Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Sexually abused children--Psychology; Sexual abuse victims--Psychology; Sexually abused teenagers--Psychology


This study investigated the attitudes of fifty-nine boys and girls in the fourth, fifth, seventh, and eighth grades toward a peer who was said to have been sexually abused. Three components of the subjects' attitudes were investigated, including feelings and judgments regarding the target children, as assessed by the Adjective Checklist and behavioral intentions to interact with the target children, as assessed using the Revised Activity Preference Scale. Target children with different types of experiences were included in order to determine whether the attitudes subjects expressed toward the target child who was said to have been sexually abused were the result of her being dissimilar, having experienced a trauma, and/or having been sexually abused. Subjects' feelings and judgments toward, and behavioral intentions to interact with, the target children did not vary as a function of the labels given to the target children. However, female subjects reported greater intentions to interact with all of the target children than did the male subjects. This finding was qualified by the subjects' developmental level, and the background information provided about the target children. Younger subjects were more likely to attribute positive characteristics to the target children than were the older subjects. However, the subjects' attributions also differed as a function of the experiences of the target children. In addition, subjects did not differentially rate their similarity to the four target children. Overall, the results suggest that children with different experiences are not stigmatized by their peers because of these experiences. However, adolescent males are likely to judge female peers who were sexually abused in a less positive manner than female peers who were not sexually abused. In addition, the findings suggest that adolescent males are likely to avoid sexually abused female peers.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [44]-48)


iv, 61 pages




Northern Illinois University

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