An exploration of student perceptions of the risks and protective factors associated with child sexual abuse and incest in the Western Cape, South Africa
Child sexual abuse (CSA) and incest have been identified as increasing social problems in South Africa. Despite thousands of children being affected annually, the majority of cases remain unreported. The aim of this study was to qualitatively explore the knowledge-based perceptions of senior university students from multiple disciplines, of the risk and protective factors associated with CSA and incest. The study utilised both focus groups and individual interviews to obtain the data. Two focus groups consisting of eight participants each were conducted. Five individual interviews elicited in-depth responses which could not be accessed via the focus group discussions. Data collection was guided by semi-structured questions, and thematic analysis was used to analyse data. The findings of the study revealed that perceived risk factors associated with CSA and incest included the influence of education from the child and family’s perspective, poverty, overcrowding, the influence of power, and the deterioration of morals and values. The perceived protective factors that participants discussed centred on the impact that education has on children and society; the importance of good parenting; society’s overall awareness and empowerment; laws and regulations, and rehabilitation programmes for perpetrators.
Keywords: child sexual abuse; incest; risk factors, protective factors; power