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The impacts of child sexual abuse: A rapid evidence assessment

Summary report

The aim of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA or ‘the Inquiry’) is to investigate whether public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their responsibility to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales, and to make meaningful recommendations for change, to help ensure that children now and in the future are better protected from sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse (CSA) involves forcing or enticing a child or young person under the age of 18 to take part in sexual activities. It includes contact and non-contact abuse, child sexual exploitation (CSE) and grooming a child in preparation for abuse.

As part of its work, the Inquiry is seeking to examine the impacts of child sexual abuse on the lives of victims and survivors and their families, as well as the impacts on wider society. These questions are of cross-cutting relevance to the work of the Inquiry. They have particular salience for its ‘Accountability and Reparations’ investigation, which is exploring the extent to which existing support services and legal processes effectively deliver accountability and reparation to victims and survivors.

This rapid evidence assessment (REA) had two overarching aims: to summarise the existing evidence base for the impacts of CSA on:

  • to summarise the existing evidence base for the impacts of CSA on:
    • victims and survivors throughout their life course
    • the families of victims and survivors
    •  wider society
  • to identify gaps in the evidence base on the above issues which could be filled by further primary research

This REA has been prepared by the Inquiry Research Team for consideration by the Inquiry Chair and Panel. The resulting report will also be of relevance and interest to policy makers, practitioners and other researchers working in the field of CSA. The views expressed are those of the authors alone.