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April 2018
Annex B: Update on research projects

Published Truth Project reports

In October 2017, the Inquiry published a report on victims and survivors’ voices from the Truth Project.[1] This was the first report to give an analysis of accounts shared by victims and survivors in private Truth sessions. 

The information presented in the report draws on material from 249 private sessions that took place between June 2016 and June 2017. Only sessions where consent was provided for information to be used in research, and where the victim and survivor attended the session in person, were included. 

The report describes the profile of victims and survivors in the Truth Project, such as their gender, age, ethnicity and any disability. It also provides more personal information (where this was shared), including a victim and survivor’s age at the time they were abused, whether they told anyone about the abuse at the time, and their reasons for attending the Truth Project. Details shared about the sexual abuse itself ‒ for example, where and when it happened ‒ are also included. In addition to these statistical data, the report includes first-hand accounts of the abuse that victims and survivors have experienced.

New and ongoing Truth Project reports

The Inquiry will continue to ensure that victims and survivors are heard. One of the ways it will do this is by analysing the information derived from the Truth Project. The findings of this work will be published and may involve publications on particular themes, such as the institutions where child sexual abuse is taking place.

Published research 

Eight reviews into existing research and literature have been published as part of the research programme. These bring together what is already known about child sexual abuse, and help support the Inquiry’s work and investigations.

Learning from best practice overseas

In April 2017, the Inquiry published a review of existing research on learning from other jurisdictions about preventing and responding to child sexual abuse that was commissioned to the University of Central Lancashire.[2] The report summarised the latest research on how jurisdictions outside England and Wales prevent, identify and respond to child sexual abuse.

The impacts of child sexual abuse

In July 2017, the Inquiry published a review of existing research on the impacts of child sexual abuse.[3] The report considered the multiple impacts of child sexual abuse on victims and survivors. It also considered any differences in impacts according to age and gender, as well as risks or protective factors that can increase or decrease the impacts of child sexual abuse. It also reviewed the impact of child sexual abuse on the family members of victims and survivors, and on wider society.

Child sexual abuse within the Anglican and Catholic Churches

In November 2017, the Inquiry published a review of existing research on child sexual abuse within the Anglican and Catholic Churches.[4] The report considered:

  • the scale and nature of child sexual abuse within the two Churches
  • the factors within these institutions that may have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse, and 
  • the response of each Church to child sexual abuse. 

The key messages from the report will continue to inform the Inquiry’s investigations into the Anglican and Catholic Churches. 

Child sexual abuse that takes place (or is facilitated) online

The Inquiry commissioned three reviews of existing research to inform its investigation into the internet. These reviews explored the behaviours and characteristics of perpetrators online (carried out by NatCen Social Research),[5] the vulnerabilities and characteristics of victims online (carried out by the Department of Social Work at Lancaster University),[6] and the nature and scale of online child sexual abuse (carried out by the Secure Societies Institute at the University of Huddersfield).[7] All three reports were published in January 2018. 

The key messages from the reports will continue to inform the Inquiry’s ‘Internet and child sexual abuse’ investigation. 

Social and political discourses about child sexual abuse

In February 2018, the Inquiry published a report on the social and political discourses about child sexual abuse and their influence on institutional responses.[8] This was commissioned by the Inquiry to the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit at London Metropolitan University. 

The report identified and reviewed existing literature exploring the different ways child sexual abuse has been talked about and understood from the 1940s to the present. It considered how these different discourses have shaped child protection practices and institutional responses to child sexual abuse over time. 

Child sexual abuse in custodial institutions

In March 2018, the Inquiry published a review of existing research on child sexual abuse in custodial institutions.[9] The report reviewed research on the scale of child sexual abuse within the youth secure estate and institutional responses to this abuse. It also considered how the nature and culture of custodial institutions affect the occurrence of, and response to, child sexual abuse, as well as the role of policies and inspection regimes. 

The key messages from the report will continue to inform the Inquiry’s investigation into custodial institutions. 

New and ongoing research

Children in custodial institutions

The Inquiry is carrying out research into the youth secure estate to inform its investigation into custodial institutions. This will involve interviewing children and staff in three types of custodial institutions: young offender institutions, secure training centres and secure children’s homes. This will help the Inquiry to:

  • explore the effectiveness of policies and procedures that are in place to protect children in custodial institutions
  • understand the nature of child sexual abuse in custodial institutions
  • understand the process of disclosing child sexual abuse in custodial institutions and the adequacy of responses, and 
  • consider other issues, such as the adequacy of staff training. 

Ethical approval for this work has been secured from the Inquiry’s Research Ethics Committee and HM Prison and Probation Service’s National Research Committee. Fieldwork will begin in mid-2018 and a report is anticipated by early 2019.

Child sexual abuse that takes place (or is facilitated) online

The education children receive about the risks of online sexual abuse will be explored as part of the Inquiry’s investigation into the internet. This work may involve a piece of research that considers how education into online safety is currently delivered in schools. It may also look at how effective this education is in improving children’s awareness of the risks of online sexual abuse. 

The Inquiry has commissioned an initial feasibility study from Alma Economics to scope out how it could carry out this work. Subject to the findings, the Inquiry will consider whether to conduct a full, large-scale evaluation.

Residential schools

The Inquiry will carry out research into residential schools as part of its investigation into these institutions. This work will involve the participation of staff, children and parents to explore awareness and perceptions of sexual abuse within residential school settings. Research will also focus on safeguarding practices for preventing and responding to child sexual abuse.

Child sexual exploitation by perpetrators in organised networks

The Inquiry’s investigation into child sexual exploitation by perpetrators in organised networks is considering institutional failures to prevent and respond to child sexual exploitation. As a result, the Inquiry will carry out research to seek a better understanding of the background, characteristics and motivations of these perpetrators, how organised networks are formed and sustained, and how they target children for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This will involve interviewing convicted perpetrators of child sexual exploitation offences.

The findings from this research will provide new insights into the steps that national and local agencies can take to prevent and disrupt child sexual exploitation, and to better protect children in the future. 

References

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