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Nature and cause

This volume details the nature and cause of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts. It also describes what is known about the extent of child sexual abuse and the limitations of existing studies. It discusses factors that affect the risk of child sexual abuse in institutions and the legal and political changes that have influenced how children have interacted with institutions over time.


The Royal Commission’s understanding of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts and why and how it happens is based on the information gathered through public hearings, private sessions, research, written accounts, roundtables, public consultations, and issues papers.

Many survivors told us that ignorance about child sexual abuse in institutions hindered prevention and identification, and meant that institutions failed to respond appropriately. In many instances, the lack of knowledge enabled the sexual abuse to continue undetected. Survivors also said that the misconceptions and stigma associated with child sexual abuse often prevented them from disclosing abuse and seeking the treatment and support that would have otherwise been available to them.

Understanding the problem is essential to identifying and preventing child sexual abuse today and in the future, enabling appropriate support for those affected, and properly holding to account those who commit, facilitate or conceal abuse.

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