This study answers the following question: Can projective drawings detect if a child experienced sexual or physical abuse? This study reports on a systematic review of literature. This means that the authors conducted a systematic search of the literature to identify relevant experimental studies that reported on whether projective drawings can detect if a child had experienced sexual of physical abuse.
The findings of a systematic review are regarded as reliable as it does not only draw on one study, but on numerous studies that were conducted all over the world. After a systematic search of the literature, a rigorous screening process and quality assessment of articles the authors synthesised and analysed 13 reports pertaining to sexually abused children and 10 studies examining physically abused children.
The significant findings are:
- Many professionals incorrectly believe that when a child’s drawing include explicit genitalia or sexually related features, or emphasising or omitting some body parts it is suggestive of a history of sexual or physical abuse.
- This study found that there is poor evidence in literature that supports this assumption that projective or other forms of drawings can help distinguish child sexual abuse and physically abused children from no abused groups.