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Journal Article


Christofferson SMB. J. Interpers. Violence 2019; 34(20): 4254-4280.


University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.


(Copyright © 2019, SAGE Publishing)






This study explored the viability of preventive treatment services for individuals with sexual interest in children, in jurisdictions without mandatory reporting but where risk-related disclosures to authorities are permitted at therapists' discretion. Health professionals (N = 112) were surveyed regarding their comfort, confidence, knowledge of relevant legal provisions, and personal disclosure thresholds, in relation to a hypothetical scenario of a client confiding pedophilic interest to seek help.

FINDINGS were mixed regarding implications for prevention service viability. Despite the complexities of the legal and ethical context of the study setting (New Zealand), predictions regarding professionals' uncertainty in relation to their legal and ethical duties, and displaying a bias toward disclosing information to authorities when permitted, were not fully borne out, although pervasive knowledge inaccuracies and associated training needs were revealed. Instead, general tendencies among respondents were toward comfort, confidence, and the inclination toward maintaining client confidentiality. Yet, widespread variance within the sample, and individuals' thresholds appearing rather unpredictable on the basis of demographic or professional variables, highlights likely barriers for potential clients in feeling safe enough to come forward. Given that preventive treatment viability in this context relies on self-referral, it is suggested that a purpose-designed preventive treatment service, with clear accessible confidentiality and reporting policies that are well within the law, could be the best way forward for viable preventive treatment in discretionary reporting contexts.

Language: en


child abuse; intervention; offenders; prevention of child abuse; reporting/disclosure; sexual abuse; sexual assault


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