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Social and political narratives about child sexual abuse

This half-day seminar will explore child sexual abuse narratives and the way in which they have affected the practice of institutions and professionals responsible for preventing and responding to it. By narratives, we mean the language, terminology, and sets of ideas that have shaped the way in which people understand what child sexual abuse is, who it happens to, and who perpetrates it.

The Inquiry is holding a half day seminar on the afternoon of Monday 26th February exploring social and political narratives about child sexual abuse. It will start at 1pm and close at approximately 4.40pm.

Child sexual abuse is understood and talked about in different ways. Different groups in society - including politicians, journalists and professionals working with children and young people - have different ways of thinking about child sexual abuse that are informed by their particular experiences and perspectives. These ways of thinking, or narratives, often incorporate ideas about how and why child sexual abuse takes place, who perpetrates it, who becomes a victim and survivor, how common an experience it is and what impact it has. In turn these narratives influence how people prevent and respond to child sexual abuse. For example, if child sexual abuse is believed to only occur in the context of the family abuse that occurs in other settings such as institutions may be overlooked.   

This seminar will focus on narratives about child sexual abuse that currently exist in England and Wales, including those that we hear in the media or in political discussions. There will be a specific focus on narratives around child sexual exploitation, including if and how child sexual exploitation differs from other forms of child sexual abuse; peer-on-peer abuse; and online abuse. The seminar will include a discussion about how current ways of thinking and talking about child sexual abuse help or hinder effective and sensitive responses to child sexual abuse, and how best to challenge unhelpful narratives where necessary. The information and views we receive will help the Inquiry to identify areas for further investigation and scrutiny.

The Seminar is being held at the Inquiry’s hearing centre at 18 Pocock Street, London SE1 0BW.

The documents below contain further information about the seminar, including the agenda and information for members of the public who would like to attend. A participant list and accompanying research report will be published a week in advance of the seminar.

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