Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Thomas R. Lee


Thomas R. Lee


Glen Jensen


Sarah Rule


This study assessed the extent to which victim families are or are not helped by the support services in Davis County, Utah. A sample of 29 mothers of sexually abused children indicated that existing intervention services were greatly underutilized and hard to locate. Seventeen of these mothers reported that they were either ignored by their caseworkers or, conversely, told not to get counseling until their case was adjudicated because of the investigator's belief that any exposure to therapy might erode the child's credibility as a witness. Only 48% of the families were informed of their Victim Rights as required by Utah state law. When asked to state how the incident impacted the family, 41% of the mothers reported that they felt they were still functioning in an elevated state of stress and tension six months or more after the disclosure of the incident. Fully 72% of the mothers reported that the child abuse disclosure had created major changes in the family system. Results of the Moos & Moos Family Environmental Subscale testing indicated that the d i stressed sample families scored significantly higher on the conflict and control subscales as hypothesized. An unexpected finding was the sample's high score on the moral religious emphasis (MRE) subscale. The MRE finding may have some influence on the process by which victim families seek help in child abuse incidents.

The results of this study suggest the need for a uniform county-wide victim support and information program and improved training for professional investigators and public agencies charged with the implementation of the Victim's Bill of Rights as outlined in the Utah Code of Criminal Procedures, 77-37-1-5.