Recommendations for Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in Youth-Serving Organizations: Implications From an Australian Royal Commission Review of the Literature

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Journal of Interpersonal Violence

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Evidence suggests that tens of millions of children and adolescents are involved in youth-serving organizations (YSOs) outside of their homes on a daily basis. Children's involvement with YSOs clearly offers a broad array of emotional, social, and personal development benefits. This involvement can, however, also be associated with a variety of safety risks, including the potential for child sexual abuse (CSA) victimization and the myriad short- and long-term consequences to its victims and their families. Recognizing the significance of CSA within YSOs, the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse funded a comprehensive review of the literature on risk and protective factors related to CSA in institutions. This yielded more than 400 primarily research articles from the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, examining institutional CSA victims, perpetrators, and settings. Findings were provided regarding six specific types of institutional settings, including faith-based, early childhood education, childcare and schools, health care, out-of-home/foster care, and sport. This article is based on the findings of Kaufman and Erooga's comprehensive literature review and Royal Commission findings. It provides a brief review of critical risks associated with CSA victims, perpetrators, and organizational settings, as well as highlights risks particular to specific types of YSOs and risks that are present across these organizations. Optimal prevention directions and strategies are outlined in response to identified patterns of organizational risk. Recommendations for YSO policy enhancements are also provided to complement the article's prevention focus. Finally, suggestions are offered for future research directions to foster the development of an evidence-based foundation for work in this area.


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