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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Final report

D.1: Introduction

1. Society’s response to child sexual abuse reflects its attitude towards children, who have long been in a position of comparative weakness and vulnerability. Their vulnerabilities have put them, in many cases, in the path of abuse, and in a position of disadvantage that has impeded their recourse to help or justice. At worst, children were treated as commodities at adults’ disposal to do with as they wish. Adults thought children were not telling the truth when they tried to disclose abuse.

2. Children and young people have a central place in our society. In law and in practice, their views are increasingly sought and taken into account, and their rights and entitlements are taken more seriously than they were in the past. The technological literacy of children and young people has had a demonstrable impact on traditional power dynamics, as the Everyone’s Invited movement illustrated. As a result, the views and experiences of children and young people are better recognised within society, and this in itself means that children today are more empowered than those of earlier generations.

3. Some children and young people remain more vulnerable to sexual abuse than their peers. This may be as a result of their presence in a particular setting, such as placement in an out-of-family setting by a local authority or in secure detention by the state, or economic circumstances.[1] Some children may fall into a number of these groups.[2]

4. While the measures by which the State protects vulnerable children from abuse have developed, engagement directly with children and young people has been slow. As set out in Part C of this report, the nature of discussions about child sexual abuse (whether online, in the media or in schools, for example) must change to help to address the stigma experienced by victims and survivors.

5. In the 21st century, the empowerment of young people can be a powerful tool in the battle to prevent abuse. Educating children and young people about the risk of abuse and the identification of those risks plays an important role in keeping them safe, but the responsibility for taking action to address these risks rests with adults and institutions.[3] In this Part, the Inquiry makes two specific recommendations to complement a number of the broader recommendations set out elsewhere in this report.

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