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Child Sexual Abuse: A Cursory Review of Risk and Protective Factors for Victimization and Perpetration

Authored by: Caroline Claussen, Elena Esina and Lana Wells

Child sexual abuse is a serious and prevalent problem, generating increasing concern among the public, media and various professionals over the past two decades.1 While research suggests that sex crimes against children have declined since the early 1990’s, there is recognition that the prevention of child sexual abuse is a serious public health concern.

Researchers argue that the development of appropriate and effective prevention, assessment, treatment and policies are reliant on understanding the risk and protective factors related to child sexual abuse.  However, this is complex due to: 1) the variety of definitions of child sexual abuse victimization and perpetration,  2) the challenges of assessing variables associated with sexual offending, 6 and 3) the ways in which child sexual abuse differs from other forms of trauma and maltreatment (e.g., most perpetrators are known to child victims, but are not immediate family members; males far more likely to be perpetrators, etc.).

Regardless of these challenges, there is a significant body of literature investigating child sexual abuse risk and protective factors. The following report provides an overview of risk and protective factors for both child sexual abuse victimization and perpetration and provides recommendations for consideration.

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