Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

September 2005


Published in Aggression and Violent Behavior 10 (2005), pp. 475–489; doi:10.1016/j.avb.2004.07.002 . Copyright © 2004 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved. Used by permission.


Child sexual abuse is a disturbingly prevalent problem that has continued to receive increased attention in the United States. Because there is substantial variability in how sexual abuse impacts children, it is important to examine potential mediating variables, including the ways in which child and family factors contribute to children’s recovery. One of the most extensively researched family variables has been parental support, and this research has demonstrated a positive relationship between parental support and children’s functioning following sexual abuse. Another family variable that likely infl uences parent–child interactions and children’s recovery is parental expectations. Although adults’ expectations about children who are disadvantaged, gifted, or from varying family structures have been shown to influence children’s functioning, research has only begun to examine the impact of adults’ expectations on children’s adjustment from sexual abuse. In light of the consistent finding that adults, including parents, teachers, and professionals, appear to hold negative expectations about the outcomes of sexually abused children, it is important to systematically investigate the relationship between parental expectancies and children’s recovery from sexual abuse. Recommendations for future research and intervention are provided in an effort to better understand the role of adult expectations on the recovery of sexually abused children.