Judges' views of child sexual abuse: Evaluating beliefs against research findings in a Finnish sample

Julia Korkman, Jatta Svanbäck, Katarina Finnilä, Pekka Santtila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Beliefs impact our decision-making and different professionals have been shown to have beliefs about child sexual abuse (CSA) that do not coincide with scientific findings. In the present study, judges' beliefs regarding CSA were explored. Finnish judges (N = 104) answered a questionnaire about CSA related issues as well as questions regarding their professional experience of CSA cases. The judges held both correct and incorrect beliefs; while their CSA prevalence estimates were rather well in line with research findings, half of the participants estimated that no professionals use suggestive methods when interviewing children and more than 40% thought suggestive methods can be useful when trying to get a child to tell about real events. Judges correctly assumed symptoms cannot be used to assess a CSA case, however, the majority thought play observations were appropriate means for evaluating such suspicions. Experience seemed to lead to more confidence in their own expertise but not in an actual increase in knowledge, namely, judges thought themselves more expert when more experienced although their expertise as measured by the questionnaire did not improve. Overall, the judges had both correct and erroneous beliefs but while experience did not improve the situation, gaining information about CSA did. More research about the beliefs of judges and how such beliefs impact legal decision-making is needed.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)497–504
JournalScandinavian Journal of Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Cite this