Gallagher, Bernard (2008) Fear of the unknown. Safer Communities: a journal of practice, opinion, policy and research, 7 (3). pp. 22-25. ISSN 1757-8043

While there is considerable public concern over stranger-perpetrated child sexual abuse (CSA) and abduction, much of the professional debate over this subject is characterised by quite polarised views and a dearth of reliable research-based knowledge. In order to start addressing this situation, a major questionnaire survey was carried out among almost 2,500 children aged 9-16 years in 26 primary and secondary schools in four types of area in north-west England. Approximately seven per cent of children reported an attempted or completed incident. In terms of its broader messages, the research suggests that we should adopt a more balanced approach in our assessments of the seriousness of stranger CSA and abduction. The research highlights practice issues for child safety educators, the police and therapists and counsellors, relating to prevention, disclosure, reporting and re-victimisation.

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