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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details

Darling, A. & Hackett, S. (2020). Situational Factors in Female-Perpetrated Child Sexual Abuse in Organisations: Implications for Prevention. Journal of Sexual Aggression 26(1): 5-22.

Author(s) from Durham


Despite increasing interest in child sexual abuse occurring in organisations, the perpetration of such abuse by females is largely ignored. This study examined situational factors in 136 cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by women working with children in the UK, Canada and the USA between 2000 and 2016. Qualitative and quantitative content analysis of court reports, professional regulator decisions, media reports and an online sentencing database was used, findings indicating that situational and contextual factors are highly relevant in perpetration. Much abuse occurs away from the organisational environment, particularly in perpetrators’ homes and cars, and in virtual environments. However, it also occurs within organisations, generally in unsupervised areas, outside of operating hours and often during mentoring/tutoring or extra-curricular activities. Organisational and local culture can be a facilitator in this abuse and allow it to continue even when concerns are raised. Practical prevention measures are suggested to assist in reducing future abuse.