Telling interviewers about sexual abuse: Predictors of child disclosure at forensic interviews

Tonya Lippert, Theodore P. Cross, Lisa Jones, Wendy Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aims to identify characteristics that predict full disclosure by victims of sexual abuse during a forensic interview. Data came from agency files for 987 cases of sexual abuse between December 2001 and December 2003 from Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) and comparison communities within four U.S. states. Cases of children fully disclosing abuse when interviewed were compared to cases of children believed to be victims who gave no or partial disclosures. The likelihood of disclosure increased when victims were girls, a primary caregiver was supportive, and a child's disclosure instigated the investigation. The likelihood of disclosure was higher for children who were older at abuse onset and at forensic interview (each age variable having an independent effect). Communities differed on disclosure rate, with no difference associated with having a CAC. Findings suggest factors deserving consideration prior to a forensic interview, including organizational and community factors affecting disclosure rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-113
Number of pages14
JournalChild Maltreatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Child disclosure
  • Children's Advocacy Center
  • Forensic interview
  • Sexual abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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