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School of Applied Social Sciences


Professor Simon Hackett

Principal of St Mary's College

How to contact me


Current post

I am Principal of St Mary's College, Professor of Applied Social Sciences in SASS and Deputy Head (Research and Scholarship) of the Durham Colleges.

As Principal of St Mary's College, I am responsible for overall direction and management of the College. St Mary's is Durham's third oldest college and comprises a community of approximately 850 undergraduates and 100 postgraduates from all disciplines. See the College website at:

As Deputy Head (Research and Scholarship) of the Durham Colleges, I am strategic lead for all aspects of research activity as it is undertaken in the 16 Durham Colleges and for the further development of scholarly communities amongst the Colleges. I am also a member of the University Research Committee.

I am Vice Chair and Chair Elect of NOTA, a major European professional association which promotes work with offenders as a way of safeguarding children, see

I chair the University’s Safeguarding Group and am Vice Chair of the University’s Ethics Advisory Committee. Outside the University, I am Independent Chair of the Durham Diocesan Safeguarding Management Group. I was recently appointed by the Secretary of State as Non-Executive Director of Doncaster Children’s Trust.

I was member of the ESRC's Grant Assessment Panel 'B' (until 2015) and was previously research advisor to the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) and Special Adviser to the Department of Health/ NIMHE Violence and Victims of Violence and Abuse Prevention Programme. I am a Trustee for DFW Adoption, a local adoption charity. See

In SASS, I teach primarily on the MSW Programme as well as the BA and MSc in Criminology. I also have a cohort of research students under my supervision on areas of my research (see below).

Previous posts

In 2011, I was Deputy Head of Faculty (Research) in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health at Durham and, in 2008-2011 was Head of SASS. In my Faculty role, I had responsibilities for the management of research across the Faculty and chaired the Faculty Research and Ethics Committees. As Head of SASS, I had 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 also taught previously at the University of Manchester.

Prior to working in a university setting, I was a practitioner in the child welfare 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 and interests

My work relates largely to child maltreatment in its various forms and to professional responses designed to safeguard children’s welfare. With Professor John Carpenter of the University of Bristol, I am currently working on 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. I am also currently funded by NICE to undertake an evidence review, in conjunction with colleagues at Sheffield, on harmful sexual behaviours and I am expert member of the NICE Public Health Advisory Committee on this topic.

With Professor Helen Masson of the University of Huddersfield, I recently completed an ESRC funded study of the long-term outcomes of professional interventions with children and young people. My previous research has focused on service provision, policy and user perspectives in relation to the young people involved in the child welfare system. Other completed projects include an evaluation of the impact of interagency training in safeguarding children for the Department for Education. 

Most recent conference presentations

Recent conference presentations include:

A keynote address entitled 'Supporting positive long term outcomes for young people with harmful sexual behaviours: Findings from a longitudinal study' at the Community Care Conference 'Holistic approaches to young people who display harmful sexual behaviour' held on 9th October 2013 in Birmingham. See the link below for my presentation:


Collaborations and PhD student enquiries

I am keen to collaborate with other researchers who share my interests from across the world. 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 an outstanding record of PhD completions.

A list of my current PhD supervisees is included below (see section entitled 'supervises'). Their projects are diverse and range from work on gender and child neglect in the UK, masculinity and the Youth Justice System in England and Wales, institutional care of children in Russia and fostering in South Korea. I have a group of four further research students undertaking work relating to child sexual abuse, including projects on internet sexual offending, interventions with parents of children with sexual behaviour problems and standards of residential care for juveniles with harmful sexual behaviours. 

Research students who have recently successfully completed their PhDs under my supervision include: 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 the DH Assessment Framework; 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.

Read what some previous PhD students say about being supervised by me in SASS

Research Groups

School of Applied Social Sciences

Research Projects

School of Applied Social Sciences

  • 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
  • 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

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

Teaching Areas

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

Selected Publications

Books: edited

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

Books: sections

  • 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 papers: academic

  • Hackett, S., Masson, H., Balfe, M. & Phillips, J. (2015). Community reactions to young people who have sexually abused and their families: a Shotgun blast, not a rifle shot. Children and Society 29(4): 243-254.
  • Balfe, M., Gallagher, B., Masson, H., Balfe, S., Brugha, R. & Hackett, S. (2014). Internet child sex offenders’ concerns about online security and their use of identity protection technologies a review. Child abuse review Early View.
  • Masson, H., Hackett, S., Phillips, J. & Balfe, M. (2014). Looking back on the long-term fostering and adoption of children with harmful sexual behaviours: carers’ reflections on their experiences. British Journal of Social Work 44(8): 2200-2217.
  • Stepanova, E. & Hackett, S. (2014). Understanding Care Leavers in Russia: Young People's Experiences of Institutionalisation. Australian Social Work 67(1): 118-134.
  • Hackett, S. & Taylor, A. (2013). Decision Making in Social Work with Children and Families: The Use of Experiential and Analytical Cognitive Processes. The British Journal of Social Work
  • Hackett, S., Phillips, J., Masson, H. & Balfe, M. (2013). Individual, Family and Abuse Characteristics of 700 British Child and Adolescent Sexual Abusers. Child Abuse Review 22(4): 232–245.
  • Masson, H., Balfe, M., Hackett, S. & Phillips, J. (2013). Lost without a Trace? Social Networking and Social Research with a Hard-to-Reach Population. British Journal of Social Work 43(1): 24-40.
  • Masson, H., Hackett, S., Phillips, J. & Balfe, M. (2012). Developmental markers of risk or vulnerability? Young females who sexually abuse: characteristics, backgrounds, behaviours and outcomes. Child and Family Social Work
  • Hackett, S., Balfe, M., Masson, H. & Phillips, J. (2012). Family responses to young people who have sexually abused: anger, ambivalence and acceptance. Children and Society
  • Hackett, S., Carpenter, J., Patsios, D. & Szilassy, E. (2012). Interprofessional and interagency training for working with young people with harmful sexual behaviours: An evaluation of outcomes. Journal of Sexual Aggression
  • Jones, C. & Hackett. S. (2012). Redefining Family Relationships Following Adoption: Adoptive Parents' Perspectives on the Changing Nature of Kinship between Adoptees and Birth Relatives. British Journal of Social Work 42(2): 283-299.
  • Carpenter, J., Patsios, D., Szilassy, E. & Hackett, S. (2011). Outcomes of Short Course Interprofessional Education in Parental Mental Illness and Child Protection: Self-Efficacy, Attitudes and Knowledge. Social Work Education 30(2): 195-206.
  • Carpenter, J., Patsios, D., Szilassy, E. & Hackett, S. (2011). Outcomes of short course interprofessional training in parental mental illness and child protection safeguarding children self-efficacy, attitudes and knowledge. Social work education the international journal 30(2): 195-206.
  • Jones, C. & Hackett, S. (2011). The Role of 'Family Practices' and 'Displays of Family' in the Creation of Adoptive Kinship. British Journal of Social Work 41(1): 40-56.
  • Buschman, J., Wilcox, D., Krapohl, D., Oelrich, M. & Hackett, S. (2010). Cybersex Offender Risk Assessment: An explorative study. Journal of Sexual Aggression: An international, interdisciplinary forum for research, theory and practice 16(2): 197-209.
  • Vosmer, S., Hackett, S. & Callanan, M. (2009). 'Normal' and 'inappropriate' childhood sexual behaviours; findings from a Delphi study of professionals in the United Kingdom. Journal of Sexual Aggression 15(3): 275 - 288

Other publications: research

  • Carpenter, John., Patsios, Demi., Szilassy, Eszter. & Hackett, Simon. (2011). Connect, share and learn. Evaluating the outcomes of inter-agency training to safeguard children. Toolkit. London: NSPCC for PIAT.
  • Carpenter, John., Hackett, Simon., Patsios, Demi. & Szilassy, Eszter. (2010). Outcomes of Interagency Training to Safeguard Children: Final Report to the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department of Health. Department for Children, Schools and Families. 188.

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
  • Social work: International social work
  • Aggression: Sex offenders
  • Social work: Adoption and parenting
  • Public policy, health and well-being: Child development and welfare

Selected Grants

  • 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)
  • 2004: NSPCC LITERATURE REVIEW (£10000.00 from NSPCC)
  • 2003: ANIMAL AND CHILD MALTREATMENT (£17425.00 from NSPCC)