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Durham University

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Professor Simon Hackett, BA (Hons), MA (Econ), CQSW, PhD, FAcSS

Professor in the Department of Sociology

How to contact me

My phone number in my departmental office: +44 191 334 1472



Current post

I am Professor of Child Abuse and Neglect in the Department of Sociology.

I teach primarily on the MSW and criminology programmes. I also have a group of research students under my supervision on areas of my research (see below). I chair Durham University's Safeguarding Operations Group.

Outside the University, I am involved in a wide range of activities relating to my areas of specialism. I am a member of the Executive Board of ATSA ( and the Board of Directors of NOTA (, two of the largest professional associations globally concerned with protecting children through improving responses to people who have displayed harmful sexual behaviours.

I am Expert Adviser for the NICE Centre for Guidelines. I was member of the ESRC's Grant Assessment Panel 'B' and was previously research advisor to CAFCASS, the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) and Special Advisor to the Department of Health/ NIMHE Violence and Victims of Violence and Abuse Prevention Programme. Between 2014 and 2018 I was Non-Executive Director of Doncaster Children’s Trust.

I am an elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Previous posts

Between January 2018 and December 2021, I was Deputy Provost and then Acting Provost at the University. In these roles, I supported the delivery of the University’s Academic Strategy with responsibilities for recruitment, progression and promotion of academic staff, Departmental and Faculty planning, and equality, diversity and inclusion across the University. I was a member of the Provost Board and, as Acting Provost, I sat on the University's Executive Committee.

Between 2011 and 2018 I was Principal of St Mary's College, one of Durham University's oldest colleges (see Whilst in the role of Principal, between 2013-2016, I was Deputy Head (Research) of the Durham Colleges.

In 2011, I was Deputy Head of Faculty (Research) in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health at Durham. In my Faculty role, I had responsibilities for REF and the management of research across the Faculty. I chaired the Faculty Research and Ethics Committees.

Between 2008-2011, I was Head of Durham's School of Applied Social Sciences with overall responsibility for the running of the School, its degree programmes, research, budget and academic community.

I rejoined the University in September 2006 having been Professor of Child Welfare at the University of Bedfordshire and, before that, Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at Durham. I was previously Tutor at the University of Manchester.

Prior to working in a university setting, I was a practitioner in the child protection field. I was Programme Director and co-founder of G-MAP, one of the UK’s leading organisations working with children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours. I was a Child Protection Officer with the NSPCC in Manchester for seven years and I was part of a team set up to investigate allegations of institutional abuse arising from the North Wales Child Abuse Inquiry. I also worked for several local authorities in both youth justice and child protection teams.

My research

My research relates largely to child maltreatment in its various forms and to professional responses designed to safeguard children’s welfare.

I am a member of the Advisory Board of the National Centre of Expertise in Child Sexual Abuse, funded by the Home Office and led by Barnardo's. Recent funded research projects include an evaluation of the Durham Child Advocacy Centre approach to child sexual abuse, funded by Durham Constabulary and the Home Office.

With Professor John Carpenter of the University of Bristol, I completed the largest RCT undertaken to date internationally on interventions for children who have been sexually abused, as part of a research programme funded by NSPCC. 

In 2018 and 2019 I was commissioned to undertake two expert reviews for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (

In 2016, I was funded by NICE to undertake an evidence review, in conjunction with colleagues at Sheffield, on harmful sexual behaviours and I was expert member of the NICE Public Health Advisory Committee which produced national guidance on this topic, see:

I am first author of the NSPCC national operational framework on harmful sexual behaviours which is available at:

With Marcella Leonard, I am co-author of the (2019) AIM3 Assessment Framework for young people who present with harmful sexual behaviours.

My educational background

I have studied at the Universities of Hull, Manchester and Durham. My first degree at the University of Hull was in modern languages (French and German). I hold a MA (Econ) in Social Policy and Social Work from the University of Manchester, as well as a Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW). I hold the Durham Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education (DCTHE). My PhD in Social Sciences was completed at the University of Hull on the subject of child sexual abuse.

Collaborations and PhD student enquiries

I collaborate with other researchers from across the world who share my interests. If you are interested in undertaking a PhD under my supervision, I would be delighted to hear from you directly about your ideas and to discuss opportunities to work with you at Durham. I have extensive supervisory experiences and a record of over 20 PhD completions. I hold the Durham University Excellence in Doctoral Supervision Award. 

A list of my current and recently completed PhD supervisees is included below (see section entitled 'supervises'). Their projects are diverse and range from work on child abuse, sexual abuse and sexual offending, children and sexuality, gender, and safeguarding in the UK and internationally.

Research students who have recently successfully completed their PhDs under my supervision include: Dr Hakim Taha on physical punishment in Kurdistan; Dr Andrea Darling on women who sexually abuse in professional contexts; Dr Josie Phillips on therapeutic relationships; Dr Evgenia Stepanova on children in institutional care in Russia; Dr Sarah Greenhow on adoption; Dr Eric Baumgartner on masculinity and the youth justice system; Dr Lesley Deacon on harmful sexual behaviours in childhood; Dr Beth Casey on child neglect; Dr Chris Jones on adoptive family life; Dr Nashmi Al-Anazi on the physical punishment of children in Saudi Arabia; Dr Lukman Mohamad on child prostitution in Malaysia; Dr Abi Taylor on professional decision making; and, Dr Helen McIlveen on models of sexual health service provision. It is a privilege to have worked with such talented individuals who have made an enormous contribution to their fields.

Research Groups

Department of Sociology

Research Projects

Department of Sociology

  • Mapping and Exploring Services for Children and Young People who have Sexually Abused
  • An explorationof Post Adoption Depression Syndrome (PADS). What is it? What are its causes? And what are adopters' experiences?
  • Animal and Child Maltreatment
  • Child Advocacy Project
  • Evaluating Inter-professional Training for Safeguarding Children
  • Letting the Future In: helping children and young people overcome the effects of sexual abuse
  • Recidivism, desistence and life course trajectories of young sexual abusers
  • Step Up to Social Work Longitudinal Evaluation

Research Interests

  • Child maltreatment and safeguarding children
  • Children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours
  • Sexual abuse and sexual offending
  • Child development
  • International comparative social welfare
  • Risk and resilience
  • Assessment
  • Therapeutic interventions with children
  • User participation in social welfare
  • Parenting
  • Adoption and out-of-home care

Teaching Areas

  • Child development
  • Child maltreatment
  • Intervention theories, methods and skills
  • Research Methods
  • Risk and resilience

Selected Publications

Authored book

Edited book

  • Calder, M. & Hackett, S. (2013). Assessment in child care. Using and developing frameworks for practice. Second edition. Russell House Publishing.

Chapter in book

  • Bows, H. & Hackett, S. (2020). Sexual abuse of parents. In The SAGE Handbook of Domestic Violence. Shackelford, T. Sage. 2.
  • Hackett, S. (2018). Assessing the needs of children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviours. In The Child's World (Third Edition). Horwath, J. & Platt, D. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • Hackett, S. (2017). Researching Child Sexual Assault: Towards a Child Sensitive Methodology. In Research Ethics in Criminology. Dilemmas, Issues and Solutions. Cowburn, M., Gelsthorpe, L. & Wahidin, A. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. 133-149.
  • Murphy, M., Ross, K. & Hackett, S. (2017). Sexually Harmful Behaviour in Young People. In Forensic Child and Adolescent Mental Health: Meeting the Needs of Young Offenders. Bailey, S., Tarbuck, P. & Chitsabesan, P. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 121-134.
  • Hackett, S., Balfe, M., Masson, H. & Phillips, J. (2016). A Study of Long-term Outcomes of Children with Harmful Sexual Behaviours: Using Social Media to Reach and Engage a 'Hard-to-reach' Population. In Innovations in Social Work Research. Using Methods Creatively. Hardwick, L., Smith, R. & Worsley, A. London: Jessica Kingsley. 92-106.
  • Stepanova, E. & Hackett, S. (2016). Improving Institutional Care to Enhance Outcomes for Care Leavers in Russia. In Young People Transitioning from Out-of-Home Care. International Research, Policy and Practice. Mendes, P. & Snow, P. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 367-388.
  • Hackett, S. (2015). Child Protection: International Issues. In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition). Wright, J. Elsevier. 423-429.
  • Hackett, S. (2012). The place that theory plays in child protection social work. In Social Work with Children and Families. Davies, M. Palgrave MacMillan. 121-134.
  • Hackett, S. (2010). Children, young people and sexual violence. In Children Behaving Badly: Exploring peer violence between children and young people. Barter, C. & Berridge, D. London: Blackwell Wiley.
  • Hackett, S. & Taylor, A. (2008). School Responses to Children with Harmful Sexual Behaviours. In Safeguarding Children and Schools. Baginsky, M. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Journal Article

Other (Print)


Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Social work: Child abuse and child protection
  • Criminology: Youth crime and juvenile offenders
  • Aggression: Interpersonal violence
  • Aggression: Sex offenders
  • Social work: Adoption and parenting
  • Public policy, health and well-being: Child development and welfare


Selected Grants

  • 2016: Durham Child Advocacy Centre: Evaluation (£59951.00 from Durham Constabulary)
  • 2015: Harmful sexual behaviour (HSB): approaches to improve identification and referral of children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour (£35624.00 from NICE)
  • 2011: Letting the Future In. A national evaluation of NSPCC's new intervention programme for children who have experienced sexual abuse (£82527.00 from NSPCC)
  • 2006: The Outcomes of Interprofessional Training (£6136.00 from DFES)