Disclosing Child Sexual Abuse during Forensic Assessments of the Black South African Child
Child sexual abuse is a social and health issue that affects citizens across the globe. It has a number of physical, psychological and emotional consequences. Children are reluctant to talk about their involvement in sexual abuse owing to various reasons. Therefore, forensic interviewers need to understand the process of disclosure when conducting forensic assessments. They also need to be watchful of various dynamics that are likely to have an impact on the disclosure rate. The aim of this study was to describe the dynamics during forensic assessments in the context of the black South African child when disclosing child sexual abuse. A descriptive design using stratified random, purposive and convenient sampling techniques to select the participants was employed, resulting in 14 participants (13 were females and only one was male). The data were collected by means of semi-structured in-depth interviews and were thematically analysed using the Nvivo program. The findings reveal that personal characteristics of the child and the interviewer, their communication abilities, blind assessments and informed allegation interviews have an impact on forensic assessments of black South African children. It is concluded that the dynamics of disclosing child sexual abuse during forensic assessments in terms of the variables of the study are not unique, except in terms of sociocultural value systems, beliefs and customs. As a result, it is recommended that the forensic interviewers come to the developmental level of the child, speak his/her language or use translators for him/her to understand, and to follow blind assessments interviews as opposed to informed allegation interviews. However, informed allegations interviews are recommended when assessing very young children.