Journal of Child Sexual Abuse Special Issue Call for Papers

Child Sexual Abuse: Perspectives on the State of Forensic Practice

Journal of Child Sexual Abuse

Consensus on both accepted and preferred practice in forensic child sexual abuse (CSA) evaluations remains elusive. Manuscripts addressing emergent issues in forensic practice and gaps in our current knowledge that may contribute to the lack of consensus are being solicited for a special issue of the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse (JCSA).  Priority will be given to manuscripts in the form of original research, tightly-written literature reviews, and succinct, well-argued position papers that promote discussion, understanding, and resolution of one or more of the following emergent issues or knowledge gaps:

1) Since the 1990’s, the single session, stranger interview model (SSSI) has been widely accepted in the field of child forensic interviewing as preferred, if not best, practice. Given our current understanding of the sexual abuse disclosure process which often includes delay, denial, minimization, and incremental reporting, given existing research on the high rate of disclosure failures associated with the SSSI mode,; and given emerging research on the efficacy of multi-session, narrative interview approaches, is a re-appraisal of the SSSI model overdue? In light of practical concerns about cost and convenience, are there viable alternatives to the SSSI model that maintain more appropriate balance between sensitivity and specificity?

2) A consistent finding in the suggestibility research is that children differ in their vulnerability to suggestion. Faced with identical misleading influences, some children resist, some resist if the interviewer smiles and seems friendly, others succumb regardless. What is known about these suggestibility subgroups? Are we able to reliably differentiate them, especially among preschoolers?  Has the research on suggestibility been misrepresented and overemphasized?  If so, how should that impact forensic practice?

3) A key component of forensic CSA evaluations is an assessment of the alleged victim’s disclosure statement. Although in the 1980’s there were a number of articles written about characteristics of a true allegation and contrasting characteristics of a false allegation, this work is in need of updating. Moreover, some forensic interview protocols and practices do not allow the forensic interviewer to assess the child’s disclosure statement. Should forensic interviewers and evaluators be assessing children’s disclosure statements? If so, what characteristics of the child’s statement and presentation are used?  How effective are these assessments?  What research support is there for these assessments?

4) Our field embraces “evidence-based” as the standard for judging accepted practice. We expect all therapeutic approaches for CSA victims to have research validation before they are recognized and accepted.  Ironically, we do not apply the same standards to the forensic methodology used to identify children as sexually abused. We have little to no research validation of our forensic methods (the one exception is forensic interviewing) or decision making processes. For example, do we really know whether a hypothesis testing approach improves decision making in CSA determinations?  Is it time for our field to prioritize the necessary resources to empirically investigate the validity and reliability of our forensic methodology?  If so, what should such research look like?

5) Research using a variety of approaches and strategies has consistently demonstrated that many, perhaps even a majority, of CSA victims are never identified. Should we be doing something different in order to reduce the number of unidentified cases? Or, do these missed cases merely reflect the regrettable, but necessary costs associated with protecting innocent adults from false sexual abuse allegations? 

Submission Instructions

What are the overriding issues for future research?  To ensure inclusion of a range of perspectives, especially on the five issues identified above, we ask potential contributors to submit paper ideas via email in the form of a detailed summary (i.e., 500-700 words) that highlights the type of article and general information about the substantive content. Proposals should be sent to Mark Everson (mark_everson@med.unc.edu), Kathleen Coulborn Faller (kcfaller@umich.edu), and Viola Vaughan-Eden (violavaughaneden@cox.net),  no later than July 1, 2017. Submissions will be approved for this special issue by August 1, and submissions will then be due no later than September 30, 2017.

Once manuscripts are approved for the Special Issue, they must be submitted electronically to the journal via the appropriate JCSA website. These articles will receive anonymous double blind peer review by the reviewers and editorial board of the journal.

Preparing manuscripts for submission

All manuscripts need to follow 6th edition APA format. This include 12 pt Times New Roman font and 1 inch margins. The title page should also include the author(s) address and contact information for correspondence, affiliation, and 8 key words or phrases for abstracting. Headings must follow APA format with bold, italics, and indentation as appropriate. Each article should be summarized in an abstract of not more than 120 words. Articles should not exceed 30 double-spaced pages inclusive of text, references, and tables. References, citations, and general style of manuscripts should be prepared in accordance with the most recent APA Publication Manual. All references in the text should be cited in the references section, and vice versa. These should be double checked before submission. Cite in the text by author and date (Smith, 2008) and include an alphabetical list at the end of the article. 

Editorial information

  • Guest Editor: Kathleen Coulborn Faller, University of Michigan
  • Guest Editor: Mark D. Everson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Guest Editor: Viola Vaughan-Eden, Norfolk State University