Dealing with a problem that doesn't exist? Professional responses to female perpetrated child sexual abuse

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    33 Citations (Scopus)


    Female involvement in sexual offences against children is more common than is generally thought and has serious implications for the long-term emotional and psychological well-being of victims. Drawing on findings from: a comprehensive review of the literature; an overview of relevant literature and legislation; and an electronic survey of Multi-Agency Public Protection Panels; this paper explores the criminal justice response to female sex offending in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The literature highlights that the way in which professionals identify and respond to child sexual abuse has been shown to be influenced by the gender of the perpetrator. Equally, whilst similar to male sex offending in terms of the intrusiveness and seriousness of the abuse, some aspects of female sex offending can cause particular problems for professionals. The fact that some sexual abuse can be disguised as childcare can make it difficult for professionals to identify this type of abuse whilst high rates of co-offending bring additional difficulties in determining the degree of female involvement and assigning responsibility. The survey findings indicate that risk assessment tools for female sex offenders is a key area requiring development and point towards small inconsistencies in the current practice of risk assessing females in the community. The survey also identifies the lack of treatment programmes for this group of offenders as well as drawing attention to the need for national policies and procedures, staff training and the identification of areas of good practice. Increased discussion and debate about how best to work with this group of sex offenders is also required.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)252-267
    Number of pages16
    JournalChild Abuse Review
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2007


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