Delivering circles of support and accountability to protect communities from sexual harm and sexual reoffending


Centre of Expertise on child sexual abuse publishes annual report

The paper brings together key messages from research on child sexual abuse perpetrated by adults.

Here at Circles South West we were keen to read the report published by The Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse in July 2020: Key messages from research on child sexual abuse perpetrated by adults.

This report sets out:

Some interesting points are raised in the report:

The great majority of victims of child sexual abuse do not go on to commit CSA themselves; however, those who commit CSA are more likely than other adults to have experienced multiple forms of abuse as children, including physical, domestic or sexual abuse, and neglect.

Adults who perpetrate CSA come from all walks of life. Most contact CSA committed by adults is perpetrated by a person whom the child knows and trusts, such as family members, friends or acquaintances and, to a lesser extent, people in positions of trust or authority.

Almost all adults convicted of CSA offences are men; in 2016, just 2% of those proceeded against for CSA offences in England and Wales were women. But perpetration by women may be more common than official records show: among individuals reporting their experiences of CSA to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales (IICSA), 16% of those abused in residential care and 6% of those abused in other institutional contexts such as schools, sports and religious settings said that female perpetrators were involved, although in some cases these may have been other children.

On page 5 the report looks at Childhood Trauma: ‘There is also evidence of a higher rate of adverse childhood experiences among women convicted of sexual offences compared to non-offending women’. CSW volunteers can learn more about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) in Dr Kieran McCartan’s Winter Lecture in February 2021.

We were pleased to read that Circles of Support and Accountability are acknowledged as an intervention. CSW knows well that ‘Evidence is lacking regarding the effectiveness of programmes used in the UK to address sexual offending’. That is why our Research in Practice evaluation study, which runs across all Circles delivered by Circles South West and is implemented by our volunteers and coordinators, is so important.

Circles South West commends this report and we hope you find it an interesting read.

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