Assessing the different dimensions and degrees of risk of child sexual abuse in institutions

Professors Patrick Parkinson and Judy Cashmore

June 2017

ISBN 978-1-925622-21-8

Executive Summary

The purpose of this research was to establish a means of differentiating between types of institutions in terms of level of risk of child sexual abuse according to the characteristics of the institution and the kinds of activities that it organises. It draws on the existing research concerning risk factors in relation to child sexual abuse and examines how these risk factors might operate cumulatively in the context of institutions. It examines to what extent various risk factors might be clustered more within some institutions or activities than other institutions or activities. Some of the groundwork for this has been laid by the research literature on situational risk. This research report goes beyond this, however, to explore how the existing body of research on individualised risk factors for victimisation and for offending might be applied to the task of identifying greater or lesser risks of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts.

In considering these issues, a distinction is drawn, where appropriate, between adult–child abuse and child-to-child abuse since the way in which the risk factors for each are clustered in institutions is, to some extent, different. 

The report concludes by illustrating the cumulative rating system for adult–child abuse by reference to a range of institutions and activities from high-risk through to low-risk.