Which sexual abuse victims receive a forensic medical examination?. The impact of Children's Advocacy Centers

Wendy A. Walsh, Theodore P. Cross, Lisa M. Jones, Monique Simone, David J. Kolko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study examines the impact of Children's Advocacy Centers (CAC) and other factors, such as the child's age, alleged penetration, and injury on the use of forensic medical examinations as part of the response to reported child sexual abuse. Methods: This analysis is part of a quasi-experimental study, the Multi-Site Evaluation of Children's Advocacy Centers, which evaluated four CACs relative to within-state non-CAC comparison communities. Case abstractors collected data on forensic medical exams in 1,220 child sexual abuse cases through review of case records. Results: Suspected sexual abuse victims at CACs were two times more likely to have forensic medical examinations than those seen at comparison communities, controlling for other variables. Girls, children with reported penetration, victims who were physically injured while being abused, White victims, and younger children were more likely to have exams, controlling for other variables. Non-penetration cases at CACs were four times more likely to receive exams as compared to those in comparison communities. About half of exams were conducted the same day as the reported abuse in both CAC and comparison communities. The majority of caregivers were very satisfied with the medical professional. Receipt of a medical exam was not associated with offenders being charged. Conclusions: Results of this study suggest that CACs are an effective tool for furthering access to forensic medical examinations for child sexual abuse victims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1053-1068
Number of pages16
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Child sexual abuse
  • Children's Advocacy Centers
  • Forensic investigations
  • Forensic medical examinations
  • Multidisciplinary coordination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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