Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional and Non-institutional Contexts

  • Ben Mathews
Part of the Child Maltreatment book series (MALT, volume 7)


This chapter first focuses on major challenges confronting child and youth-serving organisations and high-risk settings. It then discusses the nature, key findings and major recommendations of Australia’s Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, a landmark public inquiry into institutional sexual abuse, including a special focus on the Roman Catholic Church. The chapter then focuses on several recent examples of progress in responses to major problems presented by child sexual abuse in institutional and non-institutional settings. Developments from Australia in particular, but also from other countries, will show how new public health law responses, including through civil law, and with various emphases on primary prevention and secondary prevention, can create frameworks for enhanced prevention, identification, and response to cases of child sexual abuse. Some of these responses, such as redress schemes, reportable conduct schemes and child safe standards legislation, have specific application to institutional settings. Other responses, such as the abolition of statutes of limitation for civil claims for injuries caused by sexual abuse, and other kinds of legislative reporting duties, have broader application across society, as they apply to sexual abuse in all settings, whether within institutions, families, private settings, or other community settings. These responses are of broad application regarding prevention of child sexual abuse, early identification of child sexual offending, and ensuring appropriate responses once it is known or suspected. They are particularly relevant when dealing with high risk institutional settings and prolific individual offenders, both of which present especially urgent examples of the need for an appropriate societal approach to child sexual abuse informed by public health and social justice.


Child sexual abuse generally, and in institutions and organisations Schools Churches Sports, cultural, arts and recreation settings Prevention approaches Australia’s Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Key case studies Catholic Church Major findings and reform recommendations in 2017 Key recent progress in reforms to enhance prevention, identification and responses to child sexual Abuse Legal reforms Public health reforms Institutional reforms Child safe standards for organisations Education and codes of conduct Reporting schemes Redress schemes Abolition of civil statutes of limitation 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ben Mathews
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of LawQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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