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Overview of child sexual abuse

Use this kit to inform your work with children and families where child sexual abuse is suspected or has occurred.

Assessing child sexual abuse requires the application of knowledge about the dynamics of child sexual abuse, and consideration of risk factors that impact children and young people’s safety.

Understanding these factors increases the capacity of practitioners to appropriately assess safety and risk, and work collaboratively and more confidently with children and their families to address child sexual abuse.

This kit is a practical resource to support child protection practitioners to understand, assess and respond to child sexual abuse. There are some key pieces of literature which support this kit and are referred to throughout. This includes two literature reviews which were published by the New South Wales Office of the Senior Practitioner (OSP), Department of Family and Community Services and the Final Report of the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

Some of these texts use slightly varied terminology to describe sexually reactive behaviours. The Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women use the phrase “sexually reactive behaviours” throughout this guide.  

This kit focuses on child sexual abuse that is occurring or is suspected of occurring in a home or in a ‘home like’ setting (such as residential or foster care). It also focuses on alleged abusers or offenders who are household members. The literature reviews provide more detail on sexual abuse that is perpetrated by people outside the home.

The kit uses case studies that draw on the experiences of different children and are not based on any one child’s story. Be aware of your own reactions to content and seek support from your manager and colleagues if required. If needed, contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for counselling and support.

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