What is it about?

The study looks at the way people in Puerto Rico perceive child sexual abuse. The 525 participants were given a hypothetical case of ongoing sexual conduct between a teacher and a minor student to review. They were asked to answer questions about general perceptions as well as the level of harm and responsibility of the victim and offender.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

There are few studies about perceptions of child sexual abuse and related topics in Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans are rarely included in scientific studies. The findings of this study are different than similar studies conducted in other countries. The results demonstrate many of the participants identified the teacher as a victim, indicated the minor's parents should direct some of their anger to their child, and did not think the minor would have long-term negative consequences due to the experience of abuse. Understanding people's perceptions about this crime are key to developing culturally adequate prevention strategies because prevention can only be possible if the community works together. Puerto Rico has many challenges related to sexual education and victim-blaming that may hinder reporting of this type of abuse.


My goal with this study was to look into the influence of gender when evaluating sexual offenses with minors, and the results showed men are judged more harshly than women for the same offense. But I did not expect to find that so many of my participants placed part of the blame for the abuse on the minor, identified the teacher as a victim, and expressed a lack of concern related to any psychological damage to the student. These results demonstrate a severe need for sexual education and more discussions about the damage child sexual abuse has on victims, the community, and public health. I hope this article can help bring awareness about how culture plays a distinctive role in the prevention of this crime, and how important it is to conduct research with underrepresented populations. These findings are unique because the population has particular cultural scripts that may be influencing these views. Since prevention efforts greatly depend on community participation, knowing their views is necessary to develop more effective strategies to communicate with them and educate them.

Dr. Sigrid Vázquez-Tirado
Universidad Ana G. Méndez

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Gender and victim stereotypes in perceptions of child sexual abuse in Puerto Rico, Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, April 2022, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/jip.1590.
You can read the full text:




The following have contributed to this page