Interviewing victims and suspected victims who are reluctant to talk

Michael E Lamb, Irit Hershkowitz, Thomas D Lyon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most professionals know that many alleged victims do not
disclose abuse when formally interviewed and that disclosure is
affected by a variety of factors, among which the relationship
between suspects and children appears to be especially important
(see Pipe, Lamb, Orbach, & Cederborg, 2007, for reviews).
Children––especially boys and preschoolers––are hesitant to
report abuse by parents and guardians, particularly when sexual
rather than physical abuse is suspected. For example, Pipe, Lamb,
Orbach, Stewart, Sternberg, and Esplin (2007) reported that only
38% of the preschoolers interviewed disclosed sexual abuse by a
parent even when the allegations were independently substantiated by corroborative evidence. Indeed, only 12% of the
preschool-aged boys included in Hershkowitz, Horowitz, and
Lamb’s (2005) analysis of Israeli national statistics disclosed
suspected (not necessarily substantiated) sexual abuse by parents.
Even though some nondisclosure by preschoolers may be attributable to immaturity rather than reluctance (Sjöberg & Lindblad,
2002), substantial evidence indicates that large percentages of
older abused children will deny abuse as well (Pipe, Lamb,
Orbach, & Cederborg, 2007). Laboratory experiments have
shown how easy it is to induce denials among children who have
themselves transgressed (Lewis, Stanger, & Sullivan, 1989; Polak
& Harris, 1999; Talwar, Lee, Bala, & Lindsay, 2002), have
witnessed the transgression of others (Bottoms, Goodman,
Schwartz-Kenney, & Thomas, 2002; Ceci & Leichtman, 1992;
Pipe & Wilson, 1994; Talwar, Lee, Bala, & Lindsay, 2004), or
have been jointly implicated in wrongdoing (Lyon & Dorado,
2008; Lyon, Malloy, Quas, & Talwar, 2008).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-19
Number of pages4
JournalAPSAC Advisor
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013


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