UNH Study Finds Child Crime
Victims Receive Little Counseling
Contact: Erika Mantz
UNH Media Relations
February 10, 2004
DURHAM, N.H. -- Only 20 percent of the children who suffered a serious
sexual or physical assault received professional counseling in the
year following the crime, according to a new study by University
of New Hampshire researchers published this week in the international
journal, Child Abuse and Neglect.
That is very unfortunate, conclude Kathy Kopiec, David Finkelhor
and Janis Wolak, of UNH's Crimes against Children Research Center,
because considerable evidence links crime victimization in childhood
to later emotional and behavioral problems both in childhood and
Many of these problems are clearly preventable, the researchers
say, because clinically proven, effective mental health treatments
for child crime victims do exist. The main problem is that child
victims do not get connected to these treatments.
Based on their national study, the researchers suggest ways to
make it more likely child victims get counseling. For example, families
in their study were more likely to seek counseling if someone had
advised them to do so. Thus, the researchers believe all kinds of
professionals, including police, teachers and family doctors, should
actively promote counseling in the wake of crime victimizations.
Families in the UNH study also sometimes failed to consider counseling
because they thought mental health professionals would be unlikely
to take their child's victimization seriously, suggesting a need
for counselors and counseling agencies to make more effort to publicize
their concern about victimization and their receptivity to juvenile
Families in the UNH study also were less likely to seek counseling
for child victims if they did not have health insurance. The researchers
say this is additional evidence of the need to reduce the number
of uninsured children in the country and to make sure that treatment
for victimization is included in all coverage.
The study was based on telephone calls to a nationally representative
sample of more than 16,000 households from which 157 families were
identified as having a child who had experienced a serious crime
victimization in the past year.