Social representations of child and adolescent sexual abuse: A study of juridical professionals

Representações Sociais sobre o abuso sexual infantojuvenil: um estudo com profissionais jurídicos

Camila de Alencar PEREIRA Silvana Carneiro MACIEL Dayse Barbosa SILVA Luã Medeiros Fernandes de MELO About the authors


This study sought to identify the structure of legal professionals’ representations of child and adolescent sexual abuse anchored by the central core theory of social representations. The sample included 31 professionals responsible for implementing public policies in relation to victims, their family members, and aggressors. A sociodemographic questionnaire was employed with a free word association task. The resulting data were analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences 21.0 and the R Interface for Multidimensional Analyses of Texts and Questionnaires, respectively. The central core of the professionals’ representations included the terms “violence”, “trauma”, and “grief”; furthermore, they pathologized the abuser, and their representations were anchored by criminological and psychological explanations of sexual abuse. This fragmented view of sexual abuse lacks macroexplanations that address cultural and social factors as well as proposals that involve society as a whole.

Adolescent; Child; exual abuse; Social representation

Programa de Pós-Graduação em Psicologia, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Campinas Núcleo de Editoração SBI - Campus II, Av. John Boyd Dunlop, s/n. Prédio de Odontologia, 13060-900 Campinas - São Paulo Brasil, Tel./Fax: +55 19 3343-6875 - Campinas - SP - Brazil