The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released a new research paper, Grooming and child sexual abuse in institutional contexts, which provides an overview of key conceptual issues in understanding grooming and discusses what is known about grooming, particularly as it relates to institutional child sexual abuse.
Royal Commission CEO, Philip Reed, said the research shows that grooming can involve a range of behaviours that target not only children but also others involved in gaining access to the child’s life including parents and caregivers and staff in institutional settings.
“What makes grooming harmful is that the perpetrator’s motivation is to facilitate or conceal child sexual abuse,” he said.
The research describes grooming as an often incremental process that can involve three main stages – from gaining access to the victim, initiating and maintaining the abuse and concealing the abuse.
The report notes that grooming does not inevitably lead to sexual abuse, and child sexual abuse can also commence in the absence of grooming.
The literature suggests that the best ways to identify and prevent grooming and child sexual abuse may be through the development and implementation of policies and procedures, particularly codes of conduct, to prevent and identify such behaviours and through developing an organisational culture that prioritises child safety.
The report will assist the Royal Commission’s understanding of how grooming in relation to child sexual abuse may be better identified and addressed.
The Royal Commission contracted Griffith University’s Professor Patrick O’Leary (Head of the School of Human Services and Social Work) to undertake the research with Royal Commission staff Emma Koh and Andrew Dare.
Read the full report.