Other Free Encyclopedias » Marriage and Family Encyclopedia » Family Social Issues » Incest - Prevalence Of Incest, Effects On Victims, Profile Of Offenders, Treatment

Incest - Prevalence Of Incest

family definition percent abuse sexual reported

Prevalence rates for incest vary widely due to differences of definition, methods of study, and the population source of the data (Glasser et al. 2001). Commonly, studies report prevalence rates of child abuse in general and do not break the abuse into familial and nonfamilial. In the United States in the 1990s, it was estimated that 100,000 to one million cases of incest occur annually, but only about 10 percent of them are reported ( Johnson 1983). Although some research estimates that less than 2 percent of the general population experiences sexual abuse (Kutchinsky 1992), other studies estimate that incest is experienced by 10 to 20 percent of children in the general population (Briere and Runtz 1989; Finkelhor et al. 1990; Russell 1983). A few other countries have published research in English on the prevalence of incest. In Brazil, for example, prevalence estimates range widely from 0.05 percent to 21 percent (Flores, Mattos, and Salzano 1998).

It is not unusual to find very different prevalence rates of incest for males and females, as in the study conducted by Renvoize (1993) who reported that as many as one-third of all girls and one-fifth of boys have experienced incest. Researchers agree that girls are much more often the victims of incest. Others report that the incidence for males is less than half of that for females because a higher proportion of males are sexually abused by adults outside the home by strangers (Carlstedt, Forsman, and Soderstrom 2001; Finkelhor et al. 1990; Gonsiorek, Bera, and LeTourneau 1994). Male incest victims may also report less frequently because they are socialized not to express feelings of helplessness and vulnerability (Nasjleti 1980).

Estimates of the prevalence of incest have risen steadily since the late 1960s as knowledge of child sexual abuse and incest has increased. There is some controversy, however, over the validity of the reported prevalence of incest. The often painful and shameful aspects of sexual abuse within the family make the collection of data very difficult. It is generally thought by professionals that the underreporting of incest is common due to the secrecy, shame, the tendency to blame the victim, and criminal ramifications surrounding incest. However, false reports by children of nonoffending parents, especially in divorce-custody situations, may account for an increase in reported incidents. There has been criticism that therapists may encourage reports through a process of recovering memories forgotten by the patient. Even considering false reporting and misuse of recovering memories, it is still very likely that the number of incest cases is underreported.

Recidivism among incest offenders is estimated at around 8.5 percent, though up to the late 1990s, very few studies had been conducted on this issue, and recidivism is as underreported as are first reports of incest (Quinsey et al. 1995). A study of the sexual recidivism of 251 convicted adult male incest perpetrators in a clinical setting in Ottawa, Canada, found that 6.4 percent had committed another sexual offense six-and-a-half years after their incest conviction (Firestoneet et al. 1999).

Incest - Effects On Victims [next]

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

do you know of any brother/brother or father/son incest incidnets where both parties were consensual and did or do not have any negative feelings about it, even in adulthood? how could it not be harmful when one is so much older? wouldnt the younger one feel later on that he was manipulated?

Vote down Vote up

over 2 years ago

Please cite studies better I.E. name of journal they are in then volume, issue and page numbers. I'm having great difficulty finding some of the studies your article refers to.

Vote down Vote up

almost 4 years ago

To Paul-

The question you need to be asking then is would those boys be willing to have incest with out being pushed in that direction by another. I do believe that incest and any type of sexual abuse will always have detrimental effects on the participants, not because of what society tells us but because of what our very simple instincts tell us. We have sex to procreate; there is proof that incest results in increased birth defects and misscarriages, why would our instincts naturally point us in that direction? They wouldn't. Obviously you have some things to work out and you need to look closely at hte effects of incest on people as children, teens and adults.

Vote down Vote up

over 5 years ago

Paul, are you suggesting that incest is perfectly fine and dandy?
Even social norms aside, which arise for reasons, there are certain genetic reasons not to engage.

Vote down Vote up

about 8 years ago

The basic problem here is the prevelence of pre-concieved reality. Incest is a societal taboo of long standing that his a definite core. But, I am almost certain that for every case revealed, there are thousands that don't make the headlines, much less any public knowledge at all. For many of these, the guilt or shame may be produced by a society unwilling to accept the situation. In male to male incest, the incidence may be far greater than any authority understands. Mainly because the "authorities" are virtually ignorant of the how many siblings, and fathers and sons may ingage in incestuous sexual behavior without any guilt or shame involved. It seems to me that we, as researchers, have a very narrow view of reality. In the physical sciences, we observe, record, decide if something is beneficial or not, if it can be duplicated cheaply, etc. In the "human" sciences, we pre-determine what is proper, and correct behavior then try and force fit ourselves and others into these preconcieved notions. Researchers need to erase all preconcieved ideas and begin from scratch to determine what people really do! Then from the factual evidence, determine whether it really is detrimental to them. To decide, in advance it is wwrong, is stupidity at it's highest./