Repository logo

A systematic review of empirical research on child sexual abuse myths and stereotypes (1992-2017).

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Introduction: Available literature suggests that child sexual abuse (CSA) myths and stereotypes are both prevalent and varied in contemporary society. This systematic review aims to provide a critical summation of present findings regarding CSA myths and stereotypes. Objectives: To provide a critical overview of the empirical literature on CSA from 1992-2017, highlighting the consistencies, contradictions, knowledge gaps, current theories, and limitations of available understandings. Method: A systematic review of the extant literature on CSA myths and stereotypes (1992-2017) was conducted using the Cochrane Framework (Higgins & Green, 2011). Findings: From an initial search of 323 articles, a total number of 73 full-texts were included for the review. The findings reflected a concentration of research in the United States with a comparative dearth of studies from developing countries. A general impression of bias among male respondents has been observed that supports CSA myths and stereotypes. Overall, the literature displayed a lack of knowledge of CSA risk factors among participants. However, evidence appears to support the idea that specific training in CSA is a key factor in countering CSA myth endorsement. In addition to the above, a significant discrepancy among construct comparability within CSA literature was identified and recommendations were put forth. Furthermore there appears to be a deficit in research concerning the female offender, her cognitive distortions and the theories that explain this behaviour. Conclusions: It was concluded that more research on CSA is required in developing countries and among female perpetrators of CSA. Moreover clearer distinctions between CSA constructs need to be made, allowing for better construct comparability in future studies.


Master of Social Science in Clinical Psychology. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2018.