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Ask a Librarian!

True or False?
In the study,    Identifying Effective Components of Child Maltreatment Interventions: A Meta-analysis, the results showed that the types of preventive interventions that were effective in preventing child maltreatment were: home visitation interventions, parent training interventions family-based/multisystemic interventions, substance abuse interventions, and combined interventions.

This is True. Find  more of the study’s results. Enter the article title into the CALiO™Collections search box.

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New Prevention Resources  

Just enter these titles into the CALiO™Collections search box.

Identifying Effective Components of Child Maltreatment Interventions: A Meta-analysis

A systematic review of randomized controlled trials of interventions designed to decrease child abuse in high-risk families

A systematic review of randomized controlled trials of interventions designed to decrease child abuse in high-risk families

Preventing the Onset of Child Sexual Abuse by Targeting Young Adolescents with Universal Prevention Programming

Community-level Moderators of a School-Based Childhood Sexual Assault Prevention Program

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Just published  Updated trends in child maltreatment, 2016 

Want to read more child maltreatment statistics?  Enter statistics in the  CALiO™Collections search box.

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Finding Resources about the Manipulation/Grooming of Children

March 2018
David N. King, MS, PhD

The tactics used by child abusers take many forms, and rarely does a perpetrator rely totally on one specific tactic. Research has shown that perpetrators employ a myriad of means to achieve their goals, from romantic seduction to verbal abuse, from progressive touching to physical assault, and all the gradations in between.

Historically, the term “grooming” has been most commonly used to categorize the less violent techniques used by perpetrators. The other term sometimes occurring in the literature is “seduction,” which emphasizes enticement as opposed to more coercive techniques. The term used in testimony from the case of Larry Nassar, the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team doctor, was “manipulation.” This term has been rarely used in the literature to date, although NCAC’s Executive Director posits it as a more appropriate descriptor than grooming and it may well become the preferred term going forward.

Unfortunately, these terms are not specific to sexual abuse. Grooming is a common word pertaining to physical appearance. Manipulation – well, we can manipulate any object or idea, and manipulation of data is its most common usage. Seduction is used primarily in the context of sexual and romantic conquest, but it is not used so often in the research literature.

So, how do we go about locating articles in the professional literature about this important current topic?

This blog post builds upon previous searching techniques discussed in my past blog posts. Even so, with a topic as diffuse and “squishy” as this, creating a successful search strategy will take us to a more complex level of search strategy than we have covered so far.

A reminder: You must be logged in to CALiO as a CAC registered user in order to search the research and professional journals. If you are unsure of your username or password, it may be retrieved here: https://calio.org/get-help/forgot-calio-login-information

Because of the complexity of this topic, I’ll review methods explained in previous blog posts.

First, to instruct the computer system to give you only publications that discuss A and B, you enter the search text as A AND B (with the AND capitalized). Since our professional literature databases include research on adults as well as children, we must always include some terminology related to children, so for example:

disclosure AND child abuse

Second, when instructing the computer to give us articles in which two or more terms of similar meaning or two types of the same thing, we would employ the OR operator (again, in caps). For example:

abuse OR neglect

For the topic we are discussing this month, we have several near-synonymous terms: grooming, manipulation, and seduction. So we will want to use the OR operator to instruct the computer system that we will accept any of these terms.

Previously, we have also considered the problem of the completely literal way bibliographic search systems process terminology. They don’t “think,” so we must do the thinking and give the systems options. So, for example, a search system will take exactly what you type in as what you want, and leave other articles out. You type in “child,” it gives you child. Not children, not childhood. You didn’t tell it you wanted those.

Rather than using the OR operator and typing out every variant of a word, we can instruct the computer to give us all variants. So, for example, for variants on child, we can simply add an asterisk after the last letter. For example, to get articles that use the terms child, childhood and children, we would type:

child*

And finally, we have discussed ways to instruct the system to look for specific phrases by enclosing the phrase in quotation marks. For example,

“child sexual abuse”

In the case of our current topic, we know we want variants on the concept of grooming, like groom, groomed, grooming, groomer. We know we want variations on the idea of manipulation, like manipulate, manipulated, manipulation, manipulator, manipulating. And we know we want variations on seduction, like seduce, seducer, seduction, seductive.

So let’s create our search strategy. First, let’s look at our synonymous terms:

groom* OR manipulat* OR seduc*

This instructs the search system to give us articles that contain any variant on these words.
We also need to include terminology related to children. But grooming habits of children is not really what we are after, nor do we want articles about how teachers use manipulation in teaching mathematics to children. So maybe we want to look for specific phrases, like

“child abuse” OR “child sexual”

But we can’t just slap all of that in a search box. Why? Well look at what we’ve got so far.

groom* OR manipulat* OR seduc* AND “child abuse” OR “child sexual”

How will the computer search system process all this? It could give us everything it has about grooming, even hair styles for debutants, and everything about manipulation, including how people manipulate data, plus the articles about seduction and child abuse, but then everything using the phrase “child sexual.”

How do we instruct the computer how to group concepts when processing. It’s actually pretty easy. We enclose conceptually similar concepts within parentheses. That instructs the computer to process the various manipulation terms together, then process the child terminology together, then look for articles that combine the two groupings.

Like this:

(groom* OR manipulat* OR seduc*) AND (“child abuse” OR “child sexual”)

Most of the things we need to search for pertaining to child abuse are pretty straight-forward. But some, like this one, can be a challenge.
Be sure to attend one of our workshops at the upcoming 34th International Symposium on Child Abuse  in Huntsville, AL. CALiO’s Digital Information Librarian, Muriel Wells, and I will lead you through strategies for getting the best results when searching the research literature and professional articles related to child abuse topics.
David King, MS, PhD

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In the study,  Stages of Sexual Grooming: Recognizing Potentially Predatory Behaviors of Child Molesters, participants were unable to recognize:

A. Overt grooming behaviors (e.g., hugging a child, working or volunteering with children)

B. More covert grooming behaviors (e.g., selecting a vulnerable victim and trust develop- ment

C. Both overt and covert grooming behaviors

The answer is C. Read more.  Enter the article title in the CALiO™ Collections search box.

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Grooming and child sexual abuse in institutional contexts

Stages of Sexual Grooming: Recognizing Potentially Predatory Behaviors of Child Molesters

These publications can be found easily by entering the titles in the CALiO™Collections search box.

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A Commentary by

Chris Newlin, MS LPC
Executive Director
National Children’s Advocacy Center

Why do we use the word “grooming” to describe offender behavior?  This article is not about semantics, it is about the importance of the language we use in the everyday investigation and prosecution of child abuse.  It is also about how we communicate the information we know to those who don’t work in the child abuse field (jurors, family members, the community, etc.).

Language is important in how we talk about all types of things.  Many years ago, we identified intellectually disabled individuals as retarded.  We used to describe young sex trafficking victims as child prostitutes, and images of child sexual abuse as child pornography.  There has also been some move to redefine non-offending caregivers as involved caregivers because we don’t always know if a caregiver is an offender or not, but we do know they are involved.

Let me focus on grooming versus manipulation.  If you look at the definitions from the Merriam Webster Dictionary, grooming is defined as:

  1. To clean and maintain the appearance of (as the coat of a horse or dog),
  2. To make neat or attractive (an impeccably groomed woman),
  3. To get into readiness for a specific objective – prepare (was being groomed as a presidential candidate).

Do any of these really describe what we know to be grooming in child sexual abuse incidents?  You could make the argument that 3. somewhat describes what we know to be true, but let’s look at the definition for manipulation:

  1. To treat or operate with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means especially in a skillful manner,
  2. To manage or utilize skillfully or to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage,
  3. To change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one’s purpose.

When I think about “grooming” in child sexual abuse incidents, definitions 2. and 3.  of “manipulation” seem to more accurately describe what offenders do on a regular basis.  In all other settings, grooming is used to describe pro-social behavior, but I surely don’t think child sexual abuse is pro-social behavior.  To me, this behavior is decidedly anti-social, so why are we using a pro-social word to describe anti-social behavior?

The NCAC updated the Manipulation bibliography  a couple of weeks ago to include all relevant articles published since 1990. Out of 57 articles included in the bibliography there is still only one article that mentions manipulation in the title (Katz & Barnetz, 2016).  While many recently published articles include some use of the term “manipulation” in the text, the term has not gained widespread support.  In a 2018 special edition of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence on Grooming, there was significant discussion of the words grooming, seduction, and coercion in the numerous manuscripts.  Burgess & Hartman (2018) ask an important question in their article, “Is there a better term to describe this process?”  I believe there is.

Would you rather be groomed or manipulated?  There is a more negative connotation associated with manipulation, and most people feel taken advantage of when they are manipulated.  I think we should change our language to better describe the behavior of offenders.  We should call these behaviors manipulation.  Additionally, this new term will help jurors and others better understand what has actually happened in these cases.

Finally, we must also recognize that manipulation is not just focused on children in child sexual abuse cases.  Offenders also manipulate their broader community and involved caregivers/significant others so they can gain access to children while being thought of as a “good guy”.  This behavior is insidious and artful, but it is not OK – it is Manipulation!

References

Burgess, A. W., & Hartman, C. R. (2018). On the origin of grooming. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 33(1), 17-23.

Katz, C., & Barnetz, Z. (2016). Children’s narratives of alleged child sexual abuse offender behaviors and the manipulation process. Psychology of Violence, 6(2), 223-232.

National Children’s Advocacy Center (2018). The Manipulation (Grooming) of Victims of Child Sexual Abuse: A bibliography. Huntsville, AL: Author.

 

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Studies indicate that 3 to 4 million children witness domestic violence annually. Children can be frightened, depressed or traumatized, and often suffer feelings of guilt and shame as a result of exposure to family violence, even if they do not suffer abuse themselves. It can pose a lifelong psychological burden, but also can be formative of similarly abusive behaviors as adults.

CALiO™ offers a wealth of resources pertaining to children’s exposure to domestic abuse and intimate partner violence. In addition to the new NCAC Fact Sheet and a bibliography on the topic, CALiO™Collections includes up to date scholarly articles and research publications about the incidence, prevention and intervention, psychological and behavioral effects, and treatment options for children who witness family violence.

How can you effectively identify those publications?

First, remember that everything in CALiO™Collections deals with children. There is no need to use any search terminology to focus the results of your search on children. (This is not the case behind the CAC login, which covers a wide spectrum of social and behavioral sciences.)

Second, let’s think about what terminology we do need to use. There are two word variants commonly used by authors when discussing this subject.

exposed, exposure, exposing
witness, witnesses, witnessed, witnessing

You could just arbitrarily toss all those words in the search box and hope for the best, but it’s better to let the computer do the work for you.

You can instruct the computer to provide you with all variants on a word by means of a technique (warning: librarian jargon) called “truncation.” We truncate the word and use an asterisk to instruct the computer to look for all words that have additional letters. Like this:

expos*
witness*

And we can instruct the computer to give us any publications using either words that begin with expos* or words that begin with witness* by simply inserting OR (in CAPS) between the two root words.

So, your search strategy would look like this:

expos* OR witness*

That’s it. Just click Submit or tap the Enter key. You will find that all of the resulting publications relate to our topic – with one caveat. Since children can also be witnesses in court proceedings, there will be some publications retrieved pertaining to that subject. But this simple search strategy works so well that it is easy to skim over those few.

You can use truncation and the OR operator for searching in any specialized bibliographic database, as these are standard techniques adopted decades ago. The technique does NOT work in Google, which is a different kind of critter altogether.

Future editions of this blog will introduce more tips for optimizing your searches.

David King, MS, PhD

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Two new publications

What are the factors that prevent social workers from identifying domestic minor sexual traffic victims?

Child sex trafficking in the United States: Challenges for the healthcare provider

Enter the titles in the CALiO™Collections Search box

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True or False?

According to the Fact Sheet, Impact of Witnessing Intimate Partner Violence on Children at Different Ages,

Infant and toddler exposure to IPV has no developmental consequences because children at such a young age are unable to comprehend what is occurring.
This is False. Find out more about effects of witnessing IPV across age groups.Enter the fact sheet title into the CALiO™Collections search box.

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