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Parenting conditions in the midst of suspicion of child sexual abuse (CSA)


Siri Søftestad, Department of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Sørlandet Hospital HF, Postbox 416, N-4604 Kristiansand, Norway. E-mail:


This paper presents the findings of an exploratory study on parenting in the midst of suspicion of child sexual abuse (CSA). Data were drawn from in-depth interviews with 19 parents. Five of these had been accused of CSA. Study methods followed guidelines of grounded theory approaches. Specific parenting conditions during CSA suspicion were identified. Six analytic categories were developed: uncertainty concerning abuse, dilemmas on protection, changes in parent–child relationships, changes in the natural support network, dependency upon professional competence and severe emotional strain. The results are suggested as a tool for identifying themes in order to support and strengthen parenting in ensuring the safety and well-being of children in these kinds of situations. The current paper contributes to the field by exploring the perspectives of both suspected and non-suspected parents.