Other Unsupported Techniques

Similar criticisms apply to children's books about sexual abuse, such as Red Flag Green Flag People (Rape and Crisis Abuse Center, 1985). In this book, after being led through a series of pages that present good touch and bad touch, children are told to color portions of a figure where they were touched. But neither this book nor any others have been validated for diagnosing child sexual abuse.

Two techniques have been developed for assessing suspected satanic ritual abuse. The Projective Story Telling Cards (Northwest Psychological Publishers, 1990) and Don't Make Me Go Back Mommy: A Child's Book About Satanic Ritual Abuse (Sanford, 1990) contain explicit pictures illustrating satanic rituals and are used to encourage the child to describe the abuse. Both lack adequate validation.

A child's behavior in play therapy may be used to substantiate abuse. Such therapy is sometimes called disclosure-based and the sessions focus on reenactments in play, expressing feelings, and talking repeatedly about the alleged abuse. Although there is no evidence that play therapy is an effective therapeutic procedure (Campbell, 1992a; Underwager and Wakefield, 1990; Wakefield and Underwager, 1988a, 1994; Weisz and Weiss, 1993) children are frequently given therapy for sexual abuse before there has been any legal determination that sexual abuse has occurred. But there is no support for the supposition that behaviors in play therapy can be used as signs to establish the truth of past events. This type of play therapy can influence children to accept the beliefs of the therapist and can be a contributing factor in cases of false allegations (Campbell, 1992b). Jones (1991) comments that the use of the term "disclosure work" itself suggests the interviewer has a preconceived bias and is not able to consider the alternative that there may be nothing to disclose.


Special Problems with Sexual Abuse Cases


The Beginning of the Problem

Misconceptions That Increase Error

The Child Witness

Interviews of Children

Some Common But Unsupported Interview Techniques

Anatomically-Detailed Dolls

Interpretation of Drawings

Other Unsupported Techniques

Medical Evidence

Behavioral Indicators and Child Abuse "Syndromes"

The Nature of the Allegations

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Assessment of the Accused Adult

Psychological Testing

Misuse of the MMPI and MMPI-2

Scale 5 0verinterpretations

Overinterpretation of the K Scale in Court or Custody Settings

Failure to Recognize the Situational Factors in a Scale 6 Elevation

Departing from Standard Administration Procedures

Overinterpretation of the MMPI Supplementary Scales

Ignoring a Within Normal Limits Profile and Finding Pathology with Projective Tests

Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI and MCMI-II)

Multiphasic Sex Inventory

The Penile Plethysmograph

Testimony About the Plaintiff in Personal Injury Cases

Allegations of Recovered Memories

Court Rulings Relevant to Expert Testimony in Child Sexual Abuse Cases



Footnote 1


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