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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse in contemporary institutional contexts


The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (‘the Inquiry’) was set up as a statutory inquiry in March 2015. The Inquiry has been tasked with considering the extent to which state and non-state institutions in England and Wales have failed in their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation, and to make meaningful recommendations for change to help ensure that children now and in the future are better protected from sexual abuse.

Despite increasing institutional safeguards over recent years, and growing research into child sexual abuse in institutions, there is still a lack of knowledge in relation to child sexual abuse in contemporary institutional contexts. The aim of this study was to better understand the offending behaviours of perpetrators who sexually abused children across a broad range of contemporary institutional contexts in England and Wales (‘contemporary’ was defined in this study as 2017 onwards). The study also examined the circumstances and situational factors related to how child sexual abuse was perpetrated in a range of institutional contexts, and how institutions and professionals identified, reported and responded to risks of child sexual abuse. The study contributes to the wider evidence base concerned with tackling child sexual abuse and may assist policy makers and practitioners in better understanding institutional grooming, abuse of trust, and safeguarding in institutional contexts, thereby improving prevention of and responses to child sexual abuse.

Two broad research questions were addressed:

  1. What is known about perpetrators of child sexual abuse, their offending strategies and the nature of child sexual abuse in a broad range of contemporary institutional contexts?
  2. How do institutions and professionals identify, report and respond to risks and allegations of child sexual abuse?
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