The use and effectiveness of restorative justice in criminal justice systems following child sexual abuse or comparable harms

Dr Jane Bolitho and Karen Freeman

University of New South Wales

March 2016

ISBN 978-1-925289-43-5

Executive Summary

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has commissioned an international literature review to examine the research evidence on the use, justification and effectiveness of restorative justice approaches in relation to child sexual abuse, and any problems or concerns arising, particularly in relation to institutional and non-familial child sexual abuse. As this report informs the Commission’s criminal justice project, it focuses on restorative justice approaches used within criminal justice systems. This report presents the results of a brief review of international literature and addresses four main areas, which are:

  • the extent to which restorative justice is currently used in cases of institutional child sexual abuse and other child sexual abuse (or arguably, comparable areas such as adult sexual or personal violence offences, or child-related crimes, to the extent they may inform possible approaches to child sexual abuse or institutional child sexual abuse)

  • the empirical evidence (if any) to support using restorative justice for child sexual abuse (or comparable areas)

  • associated issues and criticisms

  • particular considerations or implications for institutional child sexual abuse.