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Child sexual abuse within the Catholic and Anglican Churches

Summary

Secondary research was carried out by the Inquiry to review the existing research on child sexual abuse in the Anglican and Catholic Churches.

A 'rapid evidence assessment (REA) method was used to review and summarise existing research on:

  • the scale and nature of child sexual abuse in the Churches
  • the institutional factors which may have contributed to the occurrence of such abuse
  • the Churches’ response to child sexual abuse.

 

Key Themes

  • Anglican Church
  • Catholic Church
  • Safeguarding

 

Contact

research@iicsa.org.uk

 

Background

  • The Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches in England and Wales are the focus of two of the Inquiry’s institution-specific investigations.

  • The research report recognised that the Anglican and Catholic Churches are distinct institutions and this was reflected in how the REA was carried out and reported. Dealing with both Churches together in one research report allowed common themes to be drawn out where appropriate.  

     

Timeline

November 2017: Publication of REA report

November 2018: Minor corrections and republication of REA report

What we learned

  • There is considerable research literature on child sexual abuse in the Anglican and Catholic Churches in the United States and Australia. However, there was little information on child sexual abuse in either Church in England and Wales and an overall lack of information on child sexual abuse in the Anglican Church more generally, including on the prevalence of child sexual abuse.

  • The literature suggested that the culture and regulatory frameworks of religious institutions play a role in the occurrence of child sexual abuse and how the Churches respond.

  • Institutional failures by the Catholic and Anglican Churches in their response to child sexual abuse have been highlighted in a number of research studies, independent investigations and inquiries. In the past, there was a tendency of both Churches to keep responses to child sexual abuse within the church.

  • In recent years the Catholic and Anglican Churches have responded to evolving safeguarding practice in statutory and voluntary bodies by establishing their own safeguarding policies and procedures.

Implications for the work of the Inquiry

The research report highlighted key themes and gaps in the research literature on child sexual abuse in the Anglican and Catholic Churches. These themes are now being explored as part of the Inquiry’s public hearings into the Anglican and Catholic Churches.

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