Presentation on theme: "Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: Evidence, theory, policy & practice"— Presentation transcript:
1 Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: Evidence, theory, policy & practice Stephen SmallboneSchool of Criminology & Criminal JusticeGriffith University, Australia
2 Seminar Outline Evidence, theory, policy and practice Discussion Empirical dimensions of CSAAn integrated theoryPrevention modelsKnowledge-based, prevention-centred policy and practiceDiscussion
3 Empirical dimensions CSA offenders almost always male No other identifying characteristic as consistently observed as male genderTwo main risk periods for the onset of CSA offendingadolescencenovelty & urgency of sexual drive; low stake in social conformity; low self-control; ready access to younger childrenearly middle-ageHave own children, or friends who have children; child-related employment; relationship instability?
4 Empirical dimensions CSA offenders likely to know victim Often for considerable period of time before first abuse incidentOften a parental or quasi-parental relationshipInvolves authority and guardianshipCSA often occurs in the context of either aggression or (paradoxically) nurturanceAbuse-related motivations likely to be very different for potential, novice, and persistent offenders
5 Empirical dimensions Victim characteristics Risk of victimisation varies by age, gender and circumstancesGirls approx twice as likely to be victimsGirls more at risk of sustained abuse, at younger age, in familial settingsBoys more at risk of short-term abuse, at older age, in nonfamilial settingsRisks for CSA similar to those for other kinds of maltreatmentGeneral individual and family vulnerabilitiesMore adverse outcomes associated withAbuse by father/father figureLonger durationForce or violenceLack of support, esp following disclosure
6 Empirical dimensions Abuse settings Ordinary settings where adults (or adolescents) and children involved together in routine activitiesDomestic settings (most common)Organisational settings (common)Public settings (uncommon)The social ecology of sexual abuseRisk & protective factors located at multiple levels of the offender’s and victim’s social ecologiesIndividual; family; peers; school/workplace; neighbourhood; socio-cultural environmentCapable guardians; handlers; place managers
7 An integrated theory Biological foundations Behavioural flexibility in the service of biological goalsPotential for both prosocial and antisocial behaviourIndividual survivalattachment (care-seeking) systemReproductionsexual systemnurturing (care-taking) systemMale sexuality associated with both aggression and nurturanceAttachment, nurturing & sexual systems biologically relatedMale preference for smaller, younger sexual partnersFor males, nurturing system more susceptible to competing motivations
8 An integrated theory Developmental influences Positive social cognitive development generally restrains, but does not eliminate, capacity for antisocial conductMechanisms of self-restraintEmpathy & perspective taking; emotional self-regulation; personal & social attachmentsControl theoryoffenders don’t learn to commit sexual offences, they fail to learn not tooffending constrained by self-control; informal social controls; formal social controls
9 An integrated theory Ecological influences Situational influences Proximal systems (family/peers) exert more direct influence than distal systems (neighbourhood/socio-cultural environment)Cultural/subcultural norms & valuesRoutine activities of offenders & victimsFormal & informal systems for effective child protectionSituational influencesSpecific situational elements that comprise the immediate pre-offence and offence settingSituations as opportunitySituations evoke offence-related motivationsCues; temptations; perceived provocations; social pressures; permissibility
10 Prevention models Public Health model Primary (universal) prevention Preventing potential victims from ever being abused; preventing potential offenders from ever offendingSecondary preventionFocuses on ‘at risk’ people, groups and placesTertiary preventionPreventing repeat / re-victimisation; preventing recidivism
11 Prevention models Tonry & Farrington’s (1995) Crime Prevention Model Developmental crime preventionAims to reduce number of potential offenders by targeting developmental risk and protective factorsSituational crime preventionAims to reduce criminogenic features of potential abuse settingsCommunity development approachesMobilising communities to focus on specific local crime problemsCriminal Justice interventionsDetection & investigation; general and specific deterrence; general and selective incapacitation; offender rehabilitation
12 Prevention models Proposed prevention model Three levels of prevention Primary, secondary and tertiaryFour essential targetsOffenders, victims, situations, communitiesThus, 12 points of focus (3 levels x 4 targets)
13 Twelve points of focus for preventing CSA Primary preventionSecondary preventionTertiary preventionOffendersGeneral deterrenceDevelopmentalpreventionHelp-linesIncapacitationSpecific deterrenceOffender treatmentVictimsPersonal safetyprogramsResilience buildingSupport for at-riskchildrenHarm minimisationPreventing repeatvictimisationSituationsOpportunityreductionExtendedguardianshipSituationalprevention in at-risk places &organisationsSafety plansRelapse preventionOrganisationalinterventionsCommunitiesPublic educationCommunitycapacity-buildingInterventions withat-risk communitieshigh-prevalencecommunities
14 Policy & practiceShift toward prevention-centred policy and practice required“Prevention Science”Broad definition of ‘evidence-based’ policy/practiceConcerned with much more than whether a specific technique or program has been shown to ‘work’Should draw from the widest possible knowledge-baseKnowledge as empirical evidence + coherent/testable theorye.g. developmental, social, clinical psychologydevelopmental & environmental criminologyevolutionary, social ecology & developmental theoriesCan draw from wide repertoire of proven or promising interventions
15 Discussion pointsIs it helpful to think about child sexual abuse as a wholly unique and distinct phenomenon, requiring its own unique explanations and its own unique solutions?What can we learn from prevention efforts in related fields?What are the barriers to translating knowledge and expertise to knowledge-based policy and practice?