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Child Sexual Abuse, Risk Assessment and Social Work Intervention 

Child Sexual Abuse Risk Assessment and Risk Management is one of the most emotive and challenging aspects of Social Work Practice. Increasingly practitioners are required to undertake these complex assessments in the context of their regular work and for the courts. This module follows a Structured Professional Judgement and Decision making approach to the process of risk assessment from a systemic perspective. You will already be familiiar and practiced in some of the key concepts and principles from module 1 and 2 and will now be more than ready to apply these to the issue of Child Sexual Abuse. 


Listen to the Podcasts "The Specialists' Viewpoint" in which a group of consultant forensic psychiatrists and psychologists discuss some of the personal and professional issues that may be encountered in the assessment of sex offenders. 

What is a Sexual Abuse Risk Assessment? 

Risk assessment is the cornerstone of child safeguarding and effective case management. Our task is to identify the risks posed by known offenders or likely abusers, the factors that are causally associated with these risks, and the interventions that should be taken to manage or reduce the risk. This is as true for sexual abuse as it is for any other form of violence and child maltreatment..  
Assessing risk for child sexual abuse has been a significant concern and interest to both practitioners and researchers but this has been coupled by increased urgency in the wake of high profile recent and historic cases of sexual abuse and exploitation. These shocking incidents and growing body of research evidence have sensitised the public and professionals alike to the issue of child sexual abuse but this has also led to some confusing assumptions, myths and reactive policies and practices. e.g. that people who commit sexual violence as a group have a high recidivism rate, pose a risk to strangers, and are untreatable. 
Sexual abuse risk assessment is then a formidably difficult task but is, essentially the process of gathering information about people to make decisions regarding their risk of perpetrating sexual violence. The primary goal is prevention NOT prediction, which is pointless without a full discussion of the risks posed by an individual, (nature, imminence, severity and frequency of the sexual abuse and violence they may commit)and the conditions under which someone is likely to live. 

Preparation: The Importance of a Detailed Forensic History 

People can (and usually do) choose not to commit crime, harm and violence. Child Sexual Abuse Risk Assessment is, like any other assessment for risk of maltreatment aims to : 
Understanding how and why people chose to behave in harmful ways in the past . 
Determining whether these or other factors may lead them to make similar choices again now or in the future. 
Risk Management is: encouraging decisions to act without causing harm 

Routine Activity Theory 

Starts from the premise that there is: 
A Likely Offender 
A Suitable Target; and 
The Absence of a Capable Guardian Against the Abuse 
The Suitable target is determined by 4 Criteria: 
VALUE:- The Value of the target is defined from the offender's viewpoint, depending upon what the offender wants or is trying to achieve 
INERTIA:- The Offender is more likely to be discouraged by a target that was high in Inertia - e.g. a physically big or powerful individual, someone that is confident and assertive, difficult to move, conceal or control  
VISABILITY:- An Offender is drawn to a target that is more Visible to him or her 
ACCESSIBILITY:-The offender's Access to If a target is easy to get to, this increases its suitability. 
The routine activities of the targeted child, the motivated perpetrator and the environment in which both interact or connect create the context to the abuse. Routine Activity Theory is systemicSystemic: Without the convergence of these minimal elements for child sexual abuse, it is almost impossible for the abuse to occur. Thus such conditions occur as a result of the routine activities of the surrounding community. The everyday macro-level organisation of the community and society lead to micro convergences that are more or less favourable to Child Sexual Abuse and Sexual Exploitation. 


View the presentation "The relevence of Forensic Histories which offers suggestion on sources of back ground information and concludes with a further discussion between the Experts Panel regarding preparation for an assessment of forensic risk, relevant historical information and self organisation. 

You can download the panel discussion as a Podcast 

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