Until 2020, Lithuania lacked sufficient data on the prevalence of child sexual abuse. In the absence of this information, it was difficult not only to understand and assess the extent of the problem, but also to ensure the detection of child sexual abuse. Additionally, there was still a shortage of qualified specialists capable of identifying cases of child and adolescent sexual abuse, safeguarding their interests, and implementing a new Child Rights Protection System.
Over the course of three years (2020-2023), researchers from MRU implemented the project "Uncovering Child Sexual Abuse: Assessment of Life-time Prevalence and Development of Lithuanian version of Simulated Interview Software (EIT)". During this project, a Lithuanian software interview platform was developed to effectively train professionals to interview potentially sexually abused children.
"This training program will help professionals working with children to uncover cases of sexual abuse and ensure assistance and safety for the abused child," says the project's research leader, Professor Rita Žukauskienė, head of the Laboratory of Applied Psychology at MRU's Faculty of Human and Social Studies.
The final conference of the MRU project "Uncovering Child Sexual Abuse: Assessment of Life-time Prevalence and Development of Lithuanian version of Simulated Interview Software (EIT)" reviewed the main results of the project, presented research data on the prevalence of child sexual abuse in Lithuania, discussed the impact of bias and emotions on decision-making during children's interviews, and more.
The conference was also attended by legal psychologists and specialists specializing in child interviews in cases of suspected sexual violence.