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The Extent and Nature Of Known Cases Of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse


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The sexual abuse of children by persons who work with them-institutional abuse-is a focus of major concern among policy makers, practitioners and the public. Despite this, knowledge about it remains limited. This paper presents findings from a study of institutional abuse cases referred to social service departments or the police in eight local authority areas. While such cases were relatively uncommon and constituted a small proportion of all child protection referrals, some involved large numbers of victims and abusers. Institutional abuse cases in the present study shared some characteristics with the majority of (intrafamilial) abuse cases, but there were also important differences, such as the proportion of male victims and the extent to which abusers used techniques of targeting and entrapment. Contrary to media representations, the institutional abuse reported here was not just a problem of children's homes, social work or the public sector, but occurred in a wide variety of settings and sectors and was perpetrated by a range of occupational groups. If all children are to be protected, then policy and practice measures to prevent abuse need to be directed towards a much wider range of institutions.
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British Journal of Social Work (2000) 30, 795–817
The Extent and Nature of Known Cases
of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse
Bernard Gallagher
Bernard Gallagher is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Applied Childhood Studies at the
University of Huddersfield. He has specialized in child protection and child-care research for the
past twelve years. During this time he has been responsible for major studies into organized abuse,
stranger abuse and the attrition of child abuse cases in the criminal justice system. His publications
include Grappling with Smoke—Investigating and Managing Organised Child Sexual Abuse: A
Good Practice Guide published by the NSPCC (1998). Prior to embarking upon his research career
he was employed as a residential social worker.
Correspondence to Bernard Gallagher, Centre for Applied Childhood Studies, School of Human and
Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield, Queensgate, Huddersfield HD1 3DH. UK. E-mail:
The sexual abuse of children by persons who work with them—institutional abuse—is
a focus of major concern among policy makers, practitioners and the public. Despite
this, knowledge about it remains limited. This paper presents findings from a study of
institutional abuse cases referred to social service departments or the police in eight
local authority areas. While such cases were relatively uncommon and constituted a
small proportion of all child protection referrals, some involved large numbers of vic-
tims and abusers. Institutional abuse cases in the present study shared some character-
istics with the majority of (intrafamilial) abuse cases, but there were also important
differences, such as the proportion of male victims and the extent to which abusers
used techniques of targeting and entrapment. Contrary to media representations, the
institutional abuse reported here was not just a problem of children’s homes, social
work or the public sector, but occurred in a wide variety of settings and sectors and
was perpetrated by a range of occupational groups. If all children are to be protected,
then policy and practice measures to prevent abuse need to be directed towards a
much wider range of institutions.
The sexual abuse of children by persons who work with them—institutional abuse—
has been one of the most challenging issues to confront social work in the past
decade (Stanley et al., 1999). A good deal of the concern has focused upon abuse
in children’s homes (Corby et al., 1998a). However, these are not the only residential
institutions in which children have been sexually abused. Cases have also been
2000 British Association of Social Workers
796 Bernard Gallagher
reported in residential special schools (Brannan et al., 1993) and independent board-
ing schools (La Fontaine and Morris, 1991). Neither has institutional abuse been
confined to residential establishments. Allegations have been made in a wide range
of institutions serving the community, including nursery schools (Hunt, 1994),
churches (Moore, 1995) and voluntary organizations (Smith, 1993). It is likely that
sexual abuse has occurred in most, if not all, types of institution for children.
Central government has, over the past ten years, responded to the problem of
institutional abuse in a number of ways. These include legislation (see the 1989
Children Act in particular, and its accompanying guidance and regulations relating,
for example, to residential and day-care facilities, Department of Health, 1991a,
1991b); official reviews (such as Utting, 1991 and Warner, 1992); inquiry reports
(see Corby et al., 1998b, for a comprehensive account); and a range of special
measures including, for instance, the setting up of the Support Force for Children’s
Residential Care (Cervi, 1993) to advise local authorities on the development of
residential child-care services.
Amidst continuing, if not increasing, disquiet over institutional abuse, it is pos-
sible to identify, in recent years, the development of two major strands in policy.
The first of these is broadly concerned with child-care practice. A prime example is
embodied in the measures proposed by the government in the wake of the Utting
(1997) review of safeguards for children living away from home. These include a
complaints system for children in boarding schools, the registration of independent
fostering agencies, and the provision of information to parents. A second major
initiative is the Quality Protects programme (Department of Health, 1998a), central
to which is the expectation that local authorities can enhance the protection of
‘looked after’ children by raising the standards of the care they provide to them.
Further protection is to be offered to children through the White Paper, Modernising
Social Services (Department of Health, 1998b), one key aspect of which is the setting
up of eight Regional Commissions for Care Standards to strengthen the inspection
and registration of a variety of children’s institutions. The most recent draft of
Working Together (Department of Health et al., 1999) serves to reinforce many of
these initiatives from an inter-agency perspective.
The second major strand of government policy has been concerned more with
abusers and, in particular, efforts to prevent them gaining access to children. Chief
among these is the setting up, under the 1997 Police Act, of the Criminal Records
Bureau (CRB) which is intended to provide a more efficient and effective means of
carrying out criminal record checks. Under the 1999 Protection of Children Act, it
is intended to combine the existing Department for Education and Employment
‘List 99’ and the Department of Health Consultancy Service Index into the single
mechanism of the CRB, thereby providing a ‘one-stop-shop’ for employers to check
whether those who wish to work with children are known or suspected abusers.
Furthermore, the areas in which abusers are to be banned from working with children
are to be extended to include, among others, accommodation, and leisure and sport-
ing activities. Following the recommendations of an inter-departmental working
group, the government has also proposed making it a criminal offence for convicted
Institutional Child Sexual Abuse 797
abusers to apply to work with children or for employers knowingly to appoint such
persons (Community Care, 29 July 1999, p. 5).
Research appears to suggest that institutional abuse is a small but significant
problem. Nunno (1992), for example, in a study of ‘looked after’ children in the
United States found that there were 158 reports of maltreatment for every 1,000
children. McFadden and Ryan (1992) showed that allegations against foster parents
in five states varied from 2 to 28 per 1,000 foster families. Other research indicates
that allegations of institutional abuse make up a small proportion of all reports.
Finkelhor et al. (1988) in their study of abuse in ‘daycare’ found that these cases
accounted for 1 per cent of child sexual abuse (CSA) reports. Conversely, Booth
and Horowitz (1992) found that cases of abuse among ‘looked after’ children in
Sydney, Australia made up 9 per cent of all CSA allegations. Other studies have
focused upon the characteristics of cases, especially in relation to victims. Westcott
and Clement (1992), for example, suggested that boys were most at risk in residential
schools but girls in children’s homes. McFadden and Ryan (1992) found that the
group most at risk of sexual abuse in foster homes was adolescent girls. They found
that 83 per cent of victims were female and their mean age was 13.8 years.
Despite studies such as these, there are major problems with our knowledge of
institutional abuse. The main reason is that there has been relatively little research
in this area. Where research has been carried out, much of it has focused upon
narrow groups of children, especially ‘looked after’ children and those with disabilit-
ies. In addition, many of the studies have been carried out abroad, raising issues as
to how fully the findings can be applied to this country. A further difficulty is that
much of what is known about institutional abuse derives from case studies and
official reports. While these are undoubtedly of value, there is an issue as to how
far one can generalize from them.
Overall, knowledge of institutional abuse is thin, even in respect of its most basic
aspects; namely, its extent and nature. This means that policy and practice may not
be as well informed as they should be, leading to questions about the efficacy of the
measures which have been implemented. It is the aim of this paper to address some
of the shortfalls in knowledge by presenting the results of a major study into known
cases of institutional abuse.
For the purposes of this research, institutional abuse was defined as:
The sexual abuse of a child (under 18 year of age) by an adult who works with
him or her. The perpetrator may be employed in a paid or voluntary capacity;
in the public, voluntary or private sector; in a residential or non-residential set-
ting; and may work either directly with children or be in an ancillary role.
Thus, in addition to including abuse in residential settings such as children’s homes
and boarding schools, the research sought to incorporate cases which occurred in
798 Bernard Gallagher
foster care, along with those in a range of community-based ‘institutions’, such as
schools, clubs for children and childminders’ homes.
The author recognizes that this is a broad definition and one with which some
colleagues may take issue. However, it is felt to be justified on a number of grounds.
First, all the adults to which this definition applies share the same basic relationship
with children, in that they are involved with them in a ‘work’ capacity. Secondly,
this definition is put forward on pedagogic grounds. The author believes that an
understanding of institutional abuse should begin with an analysis of cases drawn
from a diverse range of settings—subsequent to which issues can be refined—rather
than prejudging those issues and arguing that only a narrow set of children are
involved, such as those who are ‘looked after’ or in residential institutions. Finally,
it is felt that this definition is in line with current trends, particularly in respect of
government policy which, as argued above, is taking an increasingly broad inter-
pretation as to what constitutes ‘working with children’.
Cases of institutional abuse were identified through searches of child protection
records held by social service departments and the police in eight English and Welsh
local authorities. The eight areas were selected to be representative of England and
Wales in terms of a number of factors, including ‘regions’ (using a modified version
of the Registrar General’s Standard Regions (Dale and Marsh, 1993) and type of
local authority. The resultant distribution of authorities is shown in Table 1.
The eight areas (combined) were compared with England and Wales as a whole
on a number of key demographic and socio-economic variables, using Census data
(Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, 1992). Table 2 shows that, in terms of
these measures, the eight areas were broadly representative of England and Wales.
Case identification
Searches were conducted among the records for all child protection referrals which
had been made to social services or the police from January 1988 to December 1992
Table 1 Local authorities in which child protection records were searched
Area Type of authority Region
1 Shire county South-East and East Anglia
2 Shire county North-West
3 Metropolitan Yorkshire and Humberside
4 Metropolitan London
5 Shire county Wales
6 Shire county South-West
7 Metropolitan North
8 Metropolitan Midlands
Institutional Child Sexual Abuse 799
Table 2 Comparison of eight areas (combined) and England and Wales on demographic and socio-
economic variables
Variable Eight areas England and Wales
Under 18-year olds in population 22.6 22.6
Local authority housing 22.8 19.8
Single parent household 4.0 3.7
Ethnically white population 94.2 94.1
Male unemployment 9.8 9.7
inclusive. The record searches took place between March 1992 and October 1993.
Approximately 20,000 files were searched.
For a case to be included in the research there had to be information in the file
to substantiate both that a child had been sexually abused, and that the abuse had
been committed by a worker in the institution which the victim attended or where
he or she lived. The most common form of evidence was a disclosure by a victim.
Other forms of evidence included physical symptoms, admission by perpetrators,
witness statements and pornographic photographs of children.
Researchers did not, in the course of searching files, attempt to interpret what
had occurred in a case but were guided solely by the written statements of agency
workers. If the latter judged that the evidence was indicative of CSA by a staff
member of the institution, then the researchers accepted this. Conversely, if an
agency worker expressed doubt over, or rejected, suspicions of institutional abuse,
then the case was not included in the research. In the main, agency workers rarely
questioned the veracity of ‘a case’, especially where children had made disclosures.
Having said this (and exercising a degree of caution on account of the small numbers
involved), there was some evidence of differences between institutions, with agency
workers being more prone to raise queries in respect of children in foster homes.
The extent of institutional abuse
The record searches identified a total of 65 substantiated cases of institutional abuse
across the eight local authorities in the five years from 1988 to 1992. There was,
then, an average of 13 cases per annum, or 1.6 cases per local authority per annum.
The eight local authorities combined accounted for approximately 7 per cent of the
population of England and Wales (the precise percentage is withheld in the interests
of confidentiality). If the findings from the eight areas were typical of the country
as a whole, then, in the same five-year period, there would have been between 920
and 930 cases of institutional abuse in England and Wales, or about 185 cases per
During the course of the fieldwork, a record was kept of the total number of
social service and police files searched. The substantiated institutional abuse cases
800 Bernard Gallagher
accounted for 1 per cent of all child protection referrals to social services, and 3 per
cent of CSA referrals. The equivalent figures for the police were 1 and 2 per cent
These figures suggest that the sexual abuse of children in institutions is not a
statistically major problem. It should be stressed, though, that this study was based
upon referred cases. Victimization surveys have found that very few cases become
known to social services or the police. Kelly et al. (1991), for example, found that
5 per cent of sexual abuse cases were referred to any agency. Furthermore, only
those cases where allegations or suspicions could be substantiated were included in
this analysis. Therefore, the incidence of all institutional abuse is likely to be much
greater than that implied by these figures for referred and substantiated cases.
Types of institution
Cases were found to have occurred in three main types of setting: community-based
institutions, foster homes and residential establishments. Table 3 shows that com-
munity-based institutions accounted for the largest number of cases although abuse
by foster parents also made up a sizeable proportion of cases. From these results
it would seem that—contrary to impressions created by media reports—residential
institutions, which include children’s homes, make up a relatively small proportion
of institutional abuse cases.
As institutional abuse is the subject of considerable official and public concern,
it is important that these research findings are interpreted in as accurate a manner as
possible. With this in mind, it was felt that a number of caveats should be highlighted
before presenting further findings.
The first concerns the representativeness of the data. As already emphasized, this
study is based upon referred cases. As a number of studies have suggested (e.g.
Jones, 1994), the likelihood of detecting abuse varies between different types of
institution, being particularly low in establishments for ‘looked after’ and special
needs children. Thus, the figures presented here probably underestimate the extent
of abuse in residential institutions, and possibly also in foster homes, relative to that
in community-based ones.
Secondly, the incidence of abuse in a particular type of institution, as measured
by this research, will have depended to a degree upon the number of those institu-
tions that existed in the eight fieldwork areas. Although it was not possible to gather
this information in full for the eight areas, there would clearly have been major
Table 3 Categorization of cases of institutional CSA
Type of institution n %
Community-based 34 52
Foster home 22 34
Residential 9 14
Total cases (65) 100
Institutional Child Sexual Abuse 801
differences in the total number of each type of institution. This is reflected in national
figures. For example, while there are 23,000 state primary schools in the country
(NCH Action for Children, 1998), the total number of children’s homes is only
1,186 (Utting, 1997). Therefore, in interpreting these findings it is essential to bear
in mind that baseline figures may vary considerably according to type of institution
(Table 4), occupational group (Table 5) and sector (Table 6).
The final caveat concerns the analysis of subsets of data. Having obtained the
sample, it was recognized that cases of institutional abuse could be assigned to one
of three major categories: community-based institutions, foster homes and residential
establishments. As each of these categories is quite distinctive, it was felt that most
of the subsequent findings should be presented on the basis of this classification.
However, this means that some of the analyses are based upon quite small numbers
and they should, therefore, be treated with a degree of caution.
Table 4 indicates the specific type of institution in which community and residen-
tial cases occurred. Schools were the most common setting for community-based
cases, making up almost one-half of the total in this category. The second largest
group of community-based cases, making up one-fifth of the total, occurred within
private residences. This finding is mostly explained by cases involving music tutors
who abused children during the course of lessons, usually within their own homes.
The other major setting for these cases were voluntary organizations, such as the
Scouts, youth clubs and sports clubs.
There was a similar degree of diversity within residential institutions, with cases
being reported, for example, in children’s homes, special schools and boarding
schools. What was particularly striking about these figures was that children’s homes
accounted for only a minority (33 per cent) of all residential cases, and an even
smaller proportion (5 per cent) of all institutional abuse cases.
Table 4 Types of institution
Institution n %
School 15 44
Abuser or victim’s home* 7 21
Voluntary club 6 18
Religious building 3 9
Playscheme 2 6
Family centre 1 3
Total cases (34) 100
Children’s home 3 33
Special school 3 33
Boarding school 2 22
Hostel for homeless young people 1 11
Total cases (9) 100
* Some children were abused in the home of their childminder or music tutor, or in their own
home by a music tutor
802 Bernard Gallagher
Table 5 lists the occupations of abusers in community and residential cases. The
largest group of abusers in community institutions were teachers and headteachers.
Two other groups were of note: (private) music tutors and religious workers, making
up 15 and 9 per cent of cases respectively. In addition, two of the ten school teachers
taught music and two of the voluntary organizations were based in churches. As to
why these two occupational groups or contexts should feature so prominently—other
than by dint of their extent in the general population—is unclear. In the case of
music tutors it may be related to the fact that much of their interaction with children
takes place on a one-to-one basis. In respect of clerics it may be due to the authority
they are able to wield over children.
Just as Table 4 showed that institutional abuse is not just a problem of children’s
homes, so Table 5 shows that it is not just a problem of social work, either. Although
social workers accounted for a majority of the abusers in residential establishments,
in terms of institutional abuse overall they featured in only 8 per cent of cases. This
compares, for example, with the 25 per cent of cases where the abuser had a formal
connection with the education system (ten community-based teachers, three residen-
tial teachers, three community-based ‘support staff’). Having said this, it must be
remembered that the single biggest occupational group among institutional abusers
were foster parents, accounting for 34 per cent of cases. Thus, institutional abuse
Table 5 Abusers’ occupation
Occupation n %
Teacher/headteacher 10 29
Music tutor 5 14
Cleric* 3 9
Scoutleader 3 9
Childminder 2 6
Youth club worker 2 6
Playscheme worker 2 6
School volunteer 1 3
Family centre worker 1 3
Gym club instructor 1 3
Photographer (schools) 1 3
Education welfare officer 1 3
School caretaker 1 3
Schools liaison officer 1 3
Children’s entertainer 1 3
Total abusers (35) 100
Not known** (8)
Social worker 5 56
Teacher 3 33
Hostel worker 1 11
Total abusers (9) 100
*These clerics were from a range of religious faiths; namely, Catholic, Jewish and Sikh
** Six of these perpetrators were co-abusers of one of the childminders and two were co-abusers
of one of the playscheme workers
Institutional Child Sexual Abuse 803
does have major implications for social work albeit, perhaps, more in terms of foster
care than residential care.
Table 6 indicates the sectors from which institutional abuse cases were drawn. In
the light of the above discussion, it is not surprising that the large majority of cases
(62 per cent) occurred in the public sector. However, a sizeable proportion—over a
third—were known to have occurred outside the public sector. For example, almost
one-fifth of cases occurred in privately-owned institutions, incorporating occupations
such as music tutor, boarding school teacher and childminder.
It could be argued that ‘religious’ and ‘voluntary (church-based)’ cases should
have been listed under ‘voluntary’. Had this been done, this category would have
been the joint second largest, accounting for 19 per cent of all cases. As has been
demonstrated in respect of the Catholic church (Moore, 1995), for example, the
response of some religious authorities to cases of child abuse has been a source of
particular controversy. In view of this, it was believed to be important to separate
out the extent of abuse in these settings.
Nature of cases
Table 7 shows that most cases of institutional abuse involved a single victim. That
the cases in this study involved small numbers of victims, in contrast to the large
numbers of children in some of the high profile residential abuse cases (Merseyside
Police et al., 1999), is probably due to a number of factors. These include abusers,
such as music tutors, having access to fewer children; the lower levels of control
abusers were able to exert over children, particularly in community-based institu-
tions; and the sexual predilection of abusers. Having said this, the research cannot
make any allowance for undetected victims, of which there were bound to have been
What was also notable about these findings was that the largest cases did not
occur in residential establishments, as might have been expected, but in community-
Table 6 Sectors in which institutional abuse cases were based
Sector Community Foster Residential Total
Public 42 91 62 62
Private 24 9 25 19
Voluntary 18 12 11
Religious 9 5
Voluntary (church-based) 6 3
Total cases (=100%) (33) (22) (8) (63)
Not known (1) (–) (1) (2)
804 Bernard Gallagher
Table 7 Numbers of victims
Number Community Foster Residential Total
%% %%
1 36688754
5–9 9 13 6
10+ 9––5
Total cases (=100%) (33) (22) (8) (63)
Not known (1) (–) (1) (2)
based institutions. The three largest cases occurred in a voluntary family-centre (30
victims), a primary school (22 victims), and a church-based youth club (11 victims).
Similarly, community institutions had the highest proportion of multiple victim
cases: 63 per cent compared to 32 per cent of foster homes and 13 per cent of
residential establishments. It is likely that the difference between community institu-
tions and foster homes was due to the former providing access to greater numbers
of children. However, if this was the sole factor, then higher numbers of victims
would have been predicted for residential institutions. Neither does this finding
appear to be related to the tendency, identified in some studies (for example, Rowl-
ands, 1995), for perpetrators to abuse boys in groups but girls singly. As shown in
Table 8, the largest number of community-based cases were those involving girls
only. Similarly, two of the three largest cases in the study—the primary school and
the church-based youth club—comprised girls only. Thus, the explanation for this
finding remains unclear.
Table 8 reveals that in community-based institutions, and in institutional abuse
cases overall, the number of girls-only cases slightly exceeded those involving boys
only. By contrast, foster homes and residential institutions represented two extremes.
In foster homes, an overwhelming majority of cases involved only girls, whereas in
residential institutions most cases involved only boys. Without knowing the total
population of girls and boys in foster homes and residential institutions in the eight
areas, it is impossible to put these figures into their proper context. It is unlikely,
though that this finding is due entirely to there being more girls in foster care and
more boys in residential institutions. As suggested below, it appears that perpetrators
were very specific in the gender of the children they abused. It is quite probable that
they targeted particular institutions in the knowledge that this would give them
access to children of the gender they wished to abuse.
Ninety-two per cent of cases involved children from only one gender group. This
finding is to be expected, in part, since one-half of all cases involved only one
victim. Even taking this into account the specificity on the part of abusers as to the
gender of their victims was striking. The existence of single-sex institutions did not
appear to be a significant factor in explaining this finding. The three largest cases—
each of which involved children of the same gender—all took place in mixed-sex
Institutional Child Sexual Abuse 805
Table 8 Gender of victims
Gender Community Foster Residential Total
%% %%
Girls only 50 62 22 50
Boys only 44 24 78 42
Girls and boys 6 14 8
Total cases (=100%) (32) (21) (9) (62)
Not known (2) (1) (–) (3)
In the course of the file searches, the victim’s age was recorded at the points
when the abuse started, stopped and was referred to an agency. Information con-
cerning ‘start’ and ‘stop’ dates was frequently missing. Consequently, the following
analysis is restricted to the child’s age when the abuse was referred. As Table 9
shows, the majority (55 per cent) of children were in the oldest age band; specific-
ally, young people aged 12–17 years.
The age of victims in these cases was, of course, delimited by the age group for
which the institution catered. Having said this, it is still possible to make some
worthwhile observations on the age of victims in institutional abuse cases. First,
victims of institutional abuse tend to be somewhat older. This is to be expected since
many institutions and contexts, such as schools, voluntary clubs and music teaching,
have minimum age limits for accepting children. At the same time, some children
were quite young when they were abused. The abuse to 23 children in community-
based institutions, for example, was reported when they were between the ages of 6
and 11 years. All these children would have been abused between, or below, these
ages. They accounted for 38 per cent of victims in community institutions whose
ages were known. Two further ‘community victims’ were abused below the age of
6 years. In common with the inquiries into abuse in Newcastle nurseries (Hunt,
1994; Barker, et al., 1998), this research has shown that institutional abuse can
involve very young children.
The overwhelming majority (92 per cent) of institutional abuse cases, as shown in
Table 10, involved abusers who acted alone. Interestingly—in the light of reported
cases of organized abuse in children’s homes (Gallagher et al., 1996)—multiple
Table 9 Age of children at time of referral
Age Community Foster Residential Total
0–5 3 27 9
6–11 38 27 27 34
12–17 57 42 73 55
18+ 24–2
Total children (=100%) (60) (26) (11) (97)
Not known (75) (4) (1) (82)
806 Bernard Gallagher
perpetrators did not feature in any of the residential establishments identified in this
research, although it must be acknowledged that this particular finding is based upon
a small number of cases.
Whilst relatively rare, multiple abuser cases were quite diverse. The is well illus-
trated by the three community-based cases. The first of these consisted of two Scout
leaders who abused three adolescent boys. The second case initially involved one
perpetrator who abused a boy with learning disabilities whom he met whilst working
on a holiday playscheme run by a voluntary organization in the Home Counties.
(This man was also employed in a local authority nursery in London.) He then got
this boy to introduce him to his friends whom he subsequently abused. After this,
the perpetrator arranged for his two co-abusers to sexually assault these children.
These three men comprised what might be thought of as the typical ‘paedophile
ring’. The third case centred around a female childminder who sexually abused her
neighbour’s four children and two of her own children. She appeared to be the
‘ring-leader’ of a group of abusers comprising her adult daughter and her own
cohabitee, and four other abusers living in the same town to whose homes she took
the children to be abused.
Two of the foster cases were perpetrated by multiple abusers. One case comprised
both foster parents while the other involved the foster father and his adult stepson.
The total number of abusers in foster homes was, though, considerably higher than
these figures would imply. In three cases—initially involving allegations against a
foster father—the investigation went on to uncover sexual abuse by a second perpet-
rator acting independently. Two of these perpetrators were the birth sons of the
original abuser, and one was a stepson. In two cases, the perpetrators abused the
same child as the foster father, and, in the third case, a sibling of the original victim
was abused.
In a further two cases, there were indications in the file that a foster parent had
had one or more co-abusers. As this information was not sufficiently clear regarding
the number, identity and role of these other persons, they were not included in the
main analysis. However, taking into account all the cases where it was known, or
suspected, that there was more than one person sexually abusing children, then 32
per cent of foster cases could be said to have had an element of ‘multiple perpetrator’
In common with cases of CSA in general (Creighton, 1992), the vast majority of
abusers were male. As Table 11 shows, 96 per cent of institutional abusers were
male. The three female abusers were drawn from only two cases. One of these cases
Table 10 Number of abusers
Number Community Foster Residential Total
1 91 91 100 92
Total cases (=100%) (34) (22) (9) (65)
Institutional Child Sexual Abuse 807
involved a foster mother acting in concert with the foster father. The other case
involved the female childminder and her adult daughter referred to above.
In common with victims, a good deal of information concerning the age of per-
petrators, especially at the points when the abuse commenced and ceased, was miss-
ing. Therefore, the following discussion is again restricted to the age of perpetrators
when the case was referred. (In order to avoid excessively small numbers in some
cells, the three main institutional abuse categories are combined in this analysis.)
Table 12 reveals that the largest group of abusers were those aged 40–49 years.
Determining what these data mean in terms of abuser characteristics is difficult as
they are influenced by a number of ‘extraneous’ factors, such as the time taken to
detect cases and the age distribution of those working with children. Having said
this, it is at least clear that institutional abusers are drawn from a broad spectrum of
ages. In the community-based cases, for example, one of the perpetrators (a playsch-
eme worker) was 24 years of age and another (a music tutor) was 71 years of age
when the abuse was referred. In both these cases, victims were still in contact with
the perpetrator when the abuse was detected.
One of the issues to have been highlighted in the literature on extrafamilial abuse is
the targeting of ‘vulnerable’ groups of children, by perpetrators, in the belief that
they are more susceptible to being abused and less likely to disclose it (Gallagher,
1998). In the context of this study, the only vulnerabilities which were recorded in
agency files in any systematic manner were those relating to special needs and
previous maltreatment.
Table 13 shows that special needs were recorded for one or more victims in a
Table 11 Gender of abusers
Gender Community Foster Residential Total
Male 95 96 100 96
Female 5 4 4
Total abusers (=100%) (43) (24) (9) (76)
Table 12 Age of abusers at time of referral (all institutions combined)
Age (years) n %
19 1 2
20–29 6 13
30–39 9 20
40–49 16 35
50–59 10 22
60–69 2 4
70–79 2 4
Total abusers (46) 100
Not known (30)
808 Bernard Gallagher
small minority (17 per cent) of all institutional abuse cases. That some victims had
special needs was, to some extent, predictable, as some of the abuse took place in
institutions catering for this group of children. However, this does not necessarily
mean that the degree of targeting was any the less. What it may signify is that
abusers were targeting entire institutions as much as individual children.
Another means of exploring the issue of targeting is by considering community-
based institutions. There were five community-based institutions in which at least
one of the victims had special needs. Three of these institutions—a primary school,
a holiday playscheme and a church-based youth club—catered for children from the
general population. In the absence of information on the numbers and proportion of
all the children with special needs in a given institution to which the abusers had
access, it is difficult to be categorical as to the extent to which this group was
targeted. Having said this, the findings in respect of community-based institutions
would seem to provide some evidence in support of this contention.
Table 14 reveals the nature of special needs among these victims. Two types of
special need were particularly common: learning disability and challenging behavi-
our, recorded in 70 and 50 per cent of cases respectively.
Table 15 indicates that, in approximately one-third of all cases, at least one victim
was known to have experienced some form of maltreatment prior to being sexually
abused within an institution. This earlier maltreatment invariably occurred within a
family setting. The proportion of cases in foster homes and residential establishments
where victims had been maltreated previously was particularly high, at 55 and 44
per cent respectively. Given the nature of these institutions, it is to be anticipated
that many of these children would have had a history of maltreatment. However,
this finding might also support the argument, put forward in respect of special needs,
that abusers target certain types of institution as much as particular children.
Again, one way of assessing the extent of targeting is by examining community
institutions. Of the five cases in community-based institutions where victims had
Table 13 The extent of special needs among victims
Special need Community Foster Residential Total
Some 15 14 33 17
None 85 86 67 83
Total cases (=100%) (34) (22) (9) (65)
Table 14 The nature of special needs (all institutions combined)
Special need n %
Learning disability 5 50
Challenging behaviour 3 30
Learning disability and challenging behaviour 1 10
Learning disability, physical disability and challenging behaviour 1 10
Total cases (10) 100
Not known (1)
Institutional Child Sexual Abuse 809
Table 15 Previous maltreatment
Maltreatment Community Foster Residential Total
Some 15 55 44 32
None 85 45 56 68
Total cases (=100%) (34) (22) (9) (65)
been maltreated previously, three—a mainstream secondary school, a childminder’s
home and a holiday playscheme—catered for children from the general population.
This would appear to lend further support to the idea that vulnerable children were
specifically targeted.
The most common form of maltreatment was sexual abuse, followed by neglect,
encountered in 52 and 43 per cent of these cases respectively (Table 16). Other
forms of maltreatment, namely physical and emotional abuse, were relatively rare.
This raises the question as to whether abusers might target the victims of certain
forms of maltreatment more than others.
While there was some evidence that certain groups of children had been targeted,
it appeared that other victims were quite ‘unexceptional’. In his study of organized
abuse, Gallagher (1998) found that abusers target children on the basis of a range
of vulnerabilities. Compared to special needs and previous maltreatment, many of
these vulnerabilities, such as low self-esteem, social isolation and material disadvant-
age, are less overt or may be considered less germane to a child protection investi-
gation. Thus, it may have been that some of the ‘unexceptional’ victims had vulner-
abilities which agency workers, for whatever reason, chose not to record in their
In the course of searching agency files, it was fairly clear that many victims did
not possess any particular vulnerability but rather were quite ‘ordinary’. In some
cases, perpetrators seemed to believe that it was relatively easy to entrap children in
an abusive situation. They were probably bolstered in this belief by a number of
factors, such as the power they had over children by virtue of being adults; children’s
fear of not being believed or being blamed for the abuse; and children’s anxiety as
to the consequences of making a disclosure. Abusers were exploiting what could be
described as children’s ‘natural vulnerability’.
This natural vulnerability of children was almost certainly exacerbated by the
status, power and authority which many of the abusers, in positions such as teacher,
Table 16 Nature of previous maltreatment (all institutions combined)
Maltreatment n %
Neglect 8 38
Sexual abuse 7 33
Sexual and physical abuse 3 14
Sexual and emotional abuse 1 5
Neglect and physical abuse 1 5
Physical and emotional abuse 1 5
Total cases (21) 100
810 Bernard Gallagher
religious leader or foster parent, enjoyed and exploited. Other abusers, including
some of the voluntary workers, were held in high esteem by local agencies or par-
ents. In all these cases, children experienced added difficulty in both resisting, and
disclosing, the abuse.
Evidence to support this view came from cases in which perpetrators were able
to abuse a whole series of children. In one such case, the abuser who was first a
teacher and then a headteacher, was known to have assaulted at least 22 girls in a
succession of three different primary schools. Although the abuse was common
knowledge among the children in the schools, including the boys, and had been
carried out over a 13-year period, it was officially detected only when a mother
overheard her two daughters discussing the abuse they had both experienced.
Special needs and/or previous maltreatment was reported for victims in 43 per
cent of institutional abuse cases. Irrespective of the extent to which special needs or
previous maltreatment, or other vulnerabilities, were the basis of targeting, these
findings have clear implications for the therapeutic needs of institutional abuse vic-
tims, which are likely to be acute.
A second issue to be highlighted in cases of extrafamilial abuse is the ‘entrapment’
of children by perpetrators. Entrapment—sometimes referred to with the more
euphemistic and less appropriate term of ‘grooming’—is the process by which per-
petrators draw children into abusive situations and make it difficult for them to
disclose. As Gallagher (1998) has shown, entrapment consists of a number of tech-
niques, but chief among these is the involvement of children in increasingly intimate
physical contact, and the provision of a variety of inducements, whether these are
material, illicit or emotional in nature. To facilitate these techniques, the abuser will
often seek to ‘distance’ children from their parents, or any other persons, who might
represent a source of safety.
Table 17 reveals that entrapment was not uncommon, being reported in one-third
of cases. There was, though, considerable variation between different types of insti-
tution. It was used in over one-half of all community cases, but in only 9 per cent
of foster homes. Residential institutions occupied something of an intermediate posi-
One possible explanation for this variation lies in the degree of control which
workers in different institutions have over children. At one extreme are foster homes
which, like ‘ordinary’ family homes, are relatively closed and private contexts where
carers have a significant amount of control over the lives of children. Where there
Table 17 The extent of entrapment
Entrapment Community Foster Residential Total
Some used 53 9 33 35
None used 47 91 67 65
Total cases (=100%) (34) (22) (9) (65)
Institutional Child Sexual Abuse 811
is such a ‘power differential’, the abuser may have less need to embark upon a
process of entrapment but may simply coerce a child into an abusive situation and
then into silence. At the other extreme are the community institutions in which staff
have much less responsibility for children’s lives. In addition, there are usually other
significant persons, such as parents/carers and other family members or friends, in
whom children may be able to confide. In these circumstances, the abuser has to use
a good deal of manipulation to draw children into an abusive situation and then to
deter them from disclosing.
Alternatively, it may be that children in some institutions possess vulnerabilities
which make them more susceptible to abuse. This vulnerability may be manifest in
a variety of forms, such as special needs, previous abuse or neglect, or material
disadvantage. It may be, in circumstances such as these, that perpetrators need to
employ much less effort to construct abusive situations and to prevent detection.
The fact that children in foster homes and in many residential institutions are far
more likely to possess these vulnerabilities may help explain why entrapment is used
less in these situations.
Table 18 shows that abusers used seven distinct techniques to entrap children.
Given the relatively small number of cases upon which the analysis is based, this
diversity of techniques is marked. This facet becomes even more pronounced if
consideration is given to the range of practices incorporated by each of these tech-
niques. ‘Physical contact’, for example, included one case where the abusive process
was initiated by the perpetrator giving the child a ‘piggy back’ ride in which his
bottom would be touched over his clothing; a second case where ‘hugs’ and ‘kisses’
were given to girls for ‘performing well’ at a voluntary gymnastics club; and a third
where the abuser played a ‘secret game’ referred to as ‘naked hide and seek’ in
which all the participants were unclothed. When the abuser caught a child he would
rub his own penis against the child’s buttocks.
These findings would appear to suggest that institutional abuse is, in terms of its
numerical extent, a relatively minor issue. However, if the importance of institutional
abuse is to be properly assessed, a number of other considerations have to be taken
Table 18 Forms of entrapment used by abusers (all institutions combined)
Form of entrapment n*%
Initiating physical contact (touching) with child 10 43
Taking child away from institution 9 39
Giving child extra attention 5 22
Giving money to child 5 22
Behaving in a sexual manner with child 4 17
Providing child with illicit goods** 2 9
Providing child with games or toys 1 4
Total cases (=100%) (23)
* More than one form of entrapment was used in some cases, thus percentages do not total 100%
** For example: cigarettes, alcohol, drugs or pornography
812 Bernard Gallagher
into account. The first of these is that individual cases may, particularly in terms of
numbers of children, be very large. The three largest cases in this study involved
30, 22 and 11 victims respectively. Some institutional investigations, not included
here, have been enormous. The investigations in children’s homes in Cheshire and
Merseyside, for example, involved 13,563 witnesses, 885 complainants and 162
suspects (Merseyside Police et al., 1999). Secondly, the present study relates to
sexual abuse only. The ‘Pindown’ inquiry has been only one of a number of reports
to highlight the range of maltreatment which children may experience in institutions
(Levy and Kahan, 1991). Most crucially, reported cases probably represent only a
small proportion of all institutional abuse cases. Overall, then, institutional abuse, in
respect of ‘numbers’ alone, should be seen as a significant problem.
Institutional abuse is also significant in respect of the distinctive nature of cases.
Those presented in this paper did share some of the characteristics of CSA more
generally. In common with child protection register cases (Creighton, 1992), for
example, most of the abusers were male and acted on their own, and the majority
of the victims were female. However, the present sample was quite distinct from
other CSA cases in a number of key respects. These included the proportion of
victims who were male, the targeting of certain groups of children and particular
types of institution, and the use of entrapment techniques by abusers. Other studies
have underlined the distinctive nature of institutional abuse. Faller (1988), in her
study of abuse cases in North American ‘daycare’, found that many of the abusers
were ‘paedophiles’ in that they ‘actively sought situations which afford them the
opportunity to sexually abuse’, rather than being ‘regressed offenders’ whose ‘prim-
ary sexual orientation was towards adults’. Institutional abuse is also important, then,
to a broader understanding of CSA.
The distinctive nature of institutional abuse has implications for policy and prac-
tice. As Barter (1998) found in her study of cases referred to the NSPCC, the nature
of institutional abuse is such that it raises a series of unique investigative issues
surrounding areas such as multi-agency working, witness support and the independ-
ence of enquiries.
While highlighting the distinctive nature of institutional abuse, it is recognized
that this study has—through the use of a broad definition—identified a diverse set
of cases. For example, while a large majority of victims in residential institutions
were male, most of the those in foster homes were female. Similarly, while there
was evidence of entrapment being used in over one-half of community-based institu-
tions, it was used in only a small minority of foster homes. Notwithstanding this,
the author still feels it is important to employ a wide definition of institutional abuse.
The main reason, in addition to what has been said above, is that the large majority
of issues which arise in respect of institutional abuse—such as staff supervision, the
inspection of institutions and parental awareness—are (or should be) relevant to all
the cases and others like them.
Having argued that this research attests to the significance of institutional abuse,
it is acknowledged that the cases upon which it is based were reported in the late
1980s and early 1990s. Since that time, there have been major developments in
policy and practice, and also in public awareness. One of the key developments has
Institutional Child Sexual Abuse 813
been the Utting (1997) review of safeguards for children living away from home.
Having had all of its 20 principal recommendations, and most of its 130 detailed
ones, accepted by the government, it is expected that the review will result in a
major reform of systems for protecting this group of children (Valios, 1998) The
changing context of child protection in institutions has also been witnessed in terms
of practice, as exemplified by the vetting of individuals who wish to work with
children. Although reliable information is not available, evidence provided to the
Utting review, for instance, suggests that a range of organizations are adopting more
stringent procedures, in respect, not only of vetting, but also of a whole series of
employment procedures, such as job advertisements, mandatory probationary
periods, and staff supervision and training.
It is likely that these changes have had an important effect upon all aspects of
institutional abuse, including prevention, detection and investigation. Thus, it could
be concluded that institutional abuse does not pose the same problem as it once did.
However, such a view should be considered premature, if not complacent. A series
of reports have highlighted ongoing problems in the response to institutional abuse.
A study of children in foster care by Wallis and Frost (1998), for example, found
that only one in five children were aware of complaints procedures and that children
were, in any case, extremely reluctant to complain for fear that they would be placed
in residential care. The Social Services Inspectorate (1998) in a review of 27 local
authorities, found that, although there was a general commitment to enhancing the
safety of ‘looked after’ children, they were still being put at risk through poor social
work practice. A House of Commons Health Committee report (House of Commons,
1998) identified widespread managerial incompetence in respect of efforts to protect
children in care. That there should still be shortcomings in the protection of ‘looked
after’ children—a group that has been the subject of such attention—suggests that
institutional abuse remains a formidable challenge.
Although community institutions have not witnessed the equivalent of the notori-
ous children’s homes cases, or been subject to such intense official attention, this
should not be taken to mean that abuse is not also significant in these settings. On
the contrary, this study has revealed that more than one-half of all known institu-
tional abuse cases occur in the community. Furthermore, examination of individual
cases shows that these abusers are as big a threat to children as those in foster homes
and residential establishments. Indeed, given the relative lack of official scrutiny, it
could be argued that these settings should—following the implementation of many
measures for the protection of children living away from home—become the main
focus of concern.
The findings on targeting and entrapment by abusers underline the need to con-
tinue to take institutional abuse seriously. Almost one-half of cases involve victims
with special needs or histories of maltreatment. Evidence of entrapment is present
in over a third of cases. These results suggest that many institutional abusers are
very intent on sexually abusing children and use a good deal of planning to bring it
about. This concurs with a number of reports, such as those on Frank Beck in
Leicestershire children’s homes (Kirkwood, 1993) and Ralph Morris at Castle Hill
residential special school (Brannan et al., 1993), which found that these perpetrators
814 Bernard Gallagher
were effective, not only in facilitating abuse but also in avoiding detection. Indi-
viduals such as these are likely to pose a permanent danger to children. Risks may
be reduced, but it should never be assumed that they have been totally removed.
Although institutional abuse accounts for a small proportion of referrals to social
services and the police, it constitutes a significant challenge in terms of child protec-
tion. This stems, primarily, from the size of individual cases, their distinctive nature
and the special problems they pose for policy and practice. Measures implemented
over the past decade have reduced the risk to children in institutions but there are
still many issues to contend with—even for ‘looked after’ children, as a number of
official reports have highlighted. There are also more fundamental weaknesses in
the responses to institutional abuse.
Chief among these is the narrow focus of child protection efforts. Many of the
developments in this area have been ‘scandal-driven’ rather than being based upon
any proactive assessment of children’s needs. Consequently, institutional abuse has
come to be seen as a problem of children’s homes or of social work or public
services. As this research has shown, though, it involves all institutions, sectors and
occupational groups. Policies to protect ‘looked after’ children (and those in other
residential establishments) are very important, but it is essential that there is an
equivalent investment for children in community-based institutions, particularly
those in the voluntary and private sector.
While emphasizing that institutional abuse in not the sole concern of social ser-
vice departments (SSDs), it has to be acknowledged that they do possess a special
responsibility in this area. This derives from the fact that they manage some of the
key services to children, such as foster and residential care, in addition to which
they have statutory duties in respect of the inspection and registration of many
others, such as boarding schools, childminding and playgroups (although the govern-
ment proposes to remove some of this latter role). Therefore, it is equally incumbent
upon SSDs to take a broad perspective regarding institutional abuse, and not to
become preoccupied with particular settings, such as residential care or foster homes.
It seems fairly clear that there is some targeting by institutional abusers of par-
ticular groups of children, for example, those with special needs or histories of
maltreatment. Having said this, some victims of institutional abuse are relatively
‘unexceptional’ and their abuse only highlights the ‘natural vulnerability’ of children
in the face of adults who have malign intentions towards them. Just as protection
efforts must take into account all institutions, so, too, must they consider all children.
Institutions already have a major role in the lives of children, whether this is in
terms of their care, education, leisure activities or social life. With developments in
government economic and educational policy, and also in the light of more general
social trends, this role is set to increase. The National Childcare Strategy, for
example, is intended to bring about a major expansion in child-care places
(Department for Education and Employment, 1998). Unfortunately, far from deriv-
Institutional Child Sexual Abuse 815
ing benefit from institutions, some children have suffered a great deal of harm. If
institutions are to maintain, and possibly expand upon, their responsibilities, then it
is essential that every effort is invested in ensuring the safety and welfare of children,
irrespective of their background or the institution they attend.
Accepted: November 1999
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Institutional Child Sexual Abuse 817
This research was funded by grants from the Economic and Social Research Council
(grant number R000233372) and the Department of Health. The views expressed in
this paper, though, are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of
either of these two organizations. The author would like to thank all the staff of the
social service departments and police services who participated. He would also like
to thank the referees for their comments on the manuscript.
... Inductive approaches Attempts to conceptualise grooming have, to the large part, adopted a bottom-up descriptive approach, with efforts having been made to identify and to categorise grooming tactics in a variety of contexts (Black et al, 2015;Kloess, Hamilton-Giachritsis & Beech, 2019;Knoll, 2010;McAlinden, 2006;Pranato, Gunawan & Soewito, 2015;Rigg & Phippen, 2016;Salter & Dagistanli, 2015;Williams, Elliott & Beech, 2013;Wolf & Pruitt, 2019) and/or to thematically categorise such tactics in terms of different phases or stages in the grooming process. (Colton, Roberts & Vanstone, 2012;Gallagher, 2000;McAlinden, 2006;O'Connell, 2003;Olson, Daggs, Ellevold & Rogers, 2007;Van Dam, 2001;Winters & Jeglic, 2017). ...
... Common forms of ingratiatory behaviour include: flattery, the use of compliments, rendering favours, providing emotional support, self-presentation, and other-enhancement (Appelbaum & Hughes, 1998;Park, Westphal & Stern, 2011;Robin, Rusinowska & Villeval, 2011). With respect to grooming, ingratiatory tactics have also been found to include the offering of a variety of positive incentives, including: material incentives, such as money, treats, gifts, or special privileges (Gallagher, 2000;McAlinden, 2006); recognition incentives, including praise, acknowledgement and/or approval (Bennett & O'Donohue, 2014;Knoll, 2010); and/or affiliative incentives, which involve the groomer positioning themselves in relation to a targeted individual as a special friend, surrogate caregiver, or partner, in order to meet previously identified affiliative needs (de Santisteban et al, 2018). ...
... It should be noted that child abuse includes not only intrafamilial cases but also extrafamilial cases (Sullivan et al., 2011;Falkenbach et al., 2019). The former is usually perpetrated by parents and family members, while the latter is sometimes referred to as institutional child abuse, which occurs outside the family and is carried out by professionals in different organizations (Gallagher, 2000). Some data show that the prevalence of extrafamilial cases is much lower than that of intrafamilial cases. ...
Institutional abuse (IA) committed by professionals outside the family is an important form of child abuse. As one type of IA, while cases of child abuse by kindergarten teachers (CAKT) in China are increasing, research on the characteristics and mechanism remains scarce. The objective of this study was to address this research gap. Data were extracted from 35 criminal judicial documents involving 48 kindergarten teachers (nurses) and 247 victims aged 2–6 years. Statistical analysis was used to describe the characteristics of CAKT; qualitative thematic analysis of the stakeholders’ statements was used to disclose the mechanisms. The findings revealed the following: (a) The nature of CAKT was that by trying to control children’s conduct through physical force to achieve a desired order, teachers adopted a teacher-centered educational concept, requiring children to obey them rather than by organizing teaching activities based on the children's development stages; (b) The three most common means of committing CAKT were needling (42.9%), dragging and pressing the body (34.3%), and slapping (31.4%); (c) These abusers were relatively young and had a low level of education; (d) Teachers evaded monitoring through the concealment of abuse tools (e.g., needles, water, mustard) and abuse locations (e.g., corners of classrooms, bathrooms, storage rooms), and the perpetrators utilized strategies such as word substitution (e.g., replacing “needling” with “injection”, replacing “splashing” with “bathing”), making CAKT hard to discern, and a spoken terminology of “finger pointing” to shift the responsibility from themselves to the children, which made the children reluctant to disclose the abuse. The implications for the research and practice are discussed.
... Grooming institutions. In situations where groomers are employed in institutions, a number of tactics may be used to obtain isolated access to children, including groomers: (a) ingratiating themselves into organisations as "insiders" (Craven et al, 2006), with this insider-status subsequently being exploited by offenders to obtain isolated access to children (Craven et al., 2006;O'Leary et al, 2017); (b) exploiting the comparative lack of oversight/accountability afforded to persons endowed with institutional authority in order to obtain exclusive access to children (Green, 2001;McElvaney, 2019); (c) offering to take children away from the institution (e.g., on field trips) or offering after hour lessons to the child in order to obtain unsupervised access to a child (Bennett & O'Donohue, 2014;Gallagher, 2000;Shakeshaft, 2004;Winters & Jeglic, 2017); and/or (d) denigrating, intimidating, insulting, and/or blackmailing institutional staff members in order to ensure their unquestioning compliance and silence (Green, 2001;Sloan, 1988). ...
... The majority of those engaging in sexual misconduct in educational settings are academic teachers (range 18%-86%), followed by coaches, other educators, support staff, custodians, school bus drivers, security guards, principals, and counselors (American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, 2004, Canadian Centre for Child Protection Inc, 2019; Gallagher, 2000;Solis & Benedek, 2012). Of note, Moulden et al. (2010) found that a significant proportion of the teachers who had perpetrated sexual abuse were members of the clergy working within Catholic schools (17%). ...
Educator sexual misconduct is a serious problem in the United States (U.S.), with a 2004 Department of Education report estimating that 9.6% of K-12 students in the U.S. had experienced either verbal, visual, or physical educator misconduct at some point during their school career. However, since that report almost 20 years ago, there have been few large-scale studies examining the extent of the problem. As such, the current study, which uses a large sample from recent high school graduates in four U.S. states, offers updated data on the nature and scope of sexual misconduct in educational settings. Overall, 11.7% of the 6632 participants reported having experienced at least one form of educator sexual misconduct during Grades K-12, with 11% reporting sexual comments and less than 1% reporting other forms of sexual misconduct (e.g., receiving sexual photos/messages, being kissed, touched sexually, or engaging in sexual intercourse/oral sex). Those who reported misconduct showed significantly more difficulties in current psychosocial functioning than those who did not report educator misconduct. Academic teachers most often perpetrated the abuse (63%), followed by coaches and gym teachers (20%). Educators who engaged in sexual misconduct were primarily male (85%), whereas students who reported experiencing educator misconduct were primarily female (72%). Rates of disclosure to authorities were very low (4%) and some sexual grooming behaviors like gift giving (12%) and showing special attention (29%) were reported. These findings will be discussed as they pertain to the prevention of sexual misconduct within educational settings.
... If a child in an ECEC is sexually abused by an educator, it results in extremely strong reactions on multiple dimensions, but primarily among the families who leave their children in the care of the institution (Dyb et al., 2003;Kelley, 1994). Institutional abuse is the sexual abuse of a child by an employee or volunteer working at an institution that serves children (Gallagher, 2000). In a review of the impact of institutional sexual abuse, Blakemore et al. (2017) found that families as well as the wider community can be affected by these traumas. ...
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Institutional child sexual abuse is a concern for children, families, and society. Limited research has explored how school leaders and municipalities handle cases of sexual abuse in educational settings. This case study examines how a municipality managed the suspicion that 19 toddlers were sexually abused by an educator at several Early Childhood Education and Care institutions (ECEC). A nine-member crisis management team was formed that included key persons from the department of education and social welfare. During the initial phase of the investigation, only the team members were informed about the suspected abuse. In individual interviews, team members were asked how the team was organised and how their plans were implemented. In addition, they were asked about their experiences of participating in the crisis management. Three themes were identified: the set-up of the crisis management, the implementation of the crisis management plan, and important experiences. The crisis team emphasised that a child perspective rather than a general crisis perspective was applied and this approach was operationalised by key people in the educational and social welfare sectors. This paper highlights the impact of this case on the respondents as well as implications for the educational sector.
... We will therefore make an effort to pres-«Children and adolescents experience more violence, abuse, and criminal victimization than any other age-related population group». (Finkelhor, 2007) ent the scientific production that has been carried out so far over time, and the point of arrival can only be to give an initial "umbrella" definition of institutional abuse of minors through comparison in the literature, and thenas a result -to have a clear understanding of the specific topic that we want to deal with in this project: the abuse of minors in contexts of faith inspiration, contexts ranging from educational structures to sports and worship. In order to arrive at a definition of child abuse that can be applied to the case study, it is necessary to pay attention to all the definitions in the field and the various types of abuse identified so far in the literature. ...
Technical Report
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The report “Child abuse: definitions, intervention and actions carried out by faith led organizations” highlights the various forms of child abuse with an analysis of the risk factors and the abuse prevention strategies, including the adoption of codes of conduct and protection policies by the different Catholic institutions and ecclesial associations.
Sexual abuse is generally thought to be a male perpetrated crime, and official records indicate that only 2.2% of all sex crimes are perpetrated by a woman. However, recent self-report research suggests that up to 12% of cases of sexual abuse are perpetrated by a woman. Consequently, relatively little is known about how women perpetrate sexual abuse, although some preliminary studies suggests that some women may also use sexual grooming tactics and strategies. This chapter reviews what is known about women who sexually offend and describes some common typologies of females who commit sexual offenses that have been proposed in the literature. Preliminary descriptions of how some women who engage in sex trafficking of minors or educator sexual abuse may utilize sexual grooming strategies and tactics are presented using case examples. The chapter concludes with female-specific prevention and treatment recommendations.
Child sexual abuse within youth-serving organizations has been identified as a serious problem globally. Cases of child sexual abuse have been documented in schools, religious organization, care homes, foster care, sporting organizations, volunteer organizations, and other child-serving organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). Individuals who use the places that they work or volunteer to target and sexual abuse children have been coined professional perpetrators, and the process by which these individuals gain the trust of the organization or institution in which the abuse occurs has been called institutional sexual grooming. This chapter reviews what is known about those who perpetrate institutional child sexual abuse, explores the construct of institutional grooming, and examines how grooming strategies may be employed across different institutional settings.
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This article examines the processes that contribute to the stigmatization of a group of people typically identified as “children in care” or “looked after children.” In particular, we will look at the ways that we (adults, professionals, and carers) interact with these children, based on their status as both children and members of a socially marginalized and disadvantaged group, and how these modes of interaction can inhibit dialogue—a dialogue that is needed if we are to base our conceptions regarding the needs of these children on a more accurate understanding of their experiences and perspective. The problem is particularly challenging because the very terminology we use in the care community to identify this group is a product of the damaging preconceptions that have affected our interactions with its members and, we argue, it serves to reinforce those preconceptions. Using Fricker's work on epistemic injustice, in conjunction with evidence regarding how accusations of abuse and neglect of these children have been addressed in numerous cases, we illustrate the problems we have in hearing the voices of members of this group and the harmful effects this has on their own ability to understand and articulate their experiences. These problems represent “barriers to disclosure” that need to be surmounted if we are to establish a more inclusive dialogue. Currently, dialogue between these children and those of us charged to “look after” them is too often characterized by a lack of trust: not only in terms of the children feeling that their word is not taken seriously, that their claims are not likely to be believed, but also in their feeling that they cannot trust those to whom they might disclose abuse or neglect. The goals of the paper are modest in that we aim simply to open up the debate on how to meet this epistemic challenge, noting that there are specific problems that extend beyond those already identified for hearing the voices of other victims of epistemic injustice. Explicitly recognizing the nature and extent of the problem still leaves us a long way from its solution, but it is a crucial start.
The aim of this article is to present the activities of the Child Protection Centre (COD) in the field of protection of children and adolescents from sexual abuse. COD is an interdepartmental unit operating at the Jesuit University Ignatianum in Krakow. The primary tasks of COD include training and educational activities in the psychological, pedagogi-cal and spiritual fields on the subject of CSA, and the design and development of prevention programmes and models of good practice for various pastoral, formative and educational environments. The Child Protection Centre focuses on preparing and building structures for the effective implementation of the policies for the protection of children and young people, and on working to change the awareness not only of the clergy but also of people associated with the Church. The activities undertaken by the Child Protection Centre focus mainly on universal prevention, the basic aim of which is to stop potential perpetrators from harming children and to protect children-potential victims-from abuse.
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Findings from an exploratory study of 48 children sexually abused in daycare centers and daycare homes are presented. About two thirds were female and one third male. Approximately half of victims were maltreated by a single perpetrator and about half by more than one perpetrator, in the latter instance almost always by both men and women. On average, the children were subjected to 5.3 types of sexual abuse, experienced 2.1 different sorts of threats to obtain their cooperation or prevent disclosure of their victimization, and suffered from 3.7 symptoms regarded as sequelae of sexual abuse. Differences in the characteristics of offenders, victims, the sexual abuse, threats, and sequelae were found based upon the daycare context, that is, whether children were victimized in a center with multiple perpetrators, a center with a single perpetrator, or a daycare home . Peer Reviewed
In the light of the setting up of a Tribunal of Inquiry to investigate abuse of children in homes in North Wales, this article considers key issues about the general choice of types of inquiries and their use to look into the circumstances of cases of child abuse. The article presents data from a survey of published inquiry reports into child abuse from 1945 to the present day. In all, seventy reports are identified and sixty-one of these are examined in detail. Focus is placed on a range of issues relating to the use of inquiries, including the process by which inquiries are established, the way in which they are conducted and their outcomes and effects. In particular the article considers how the forms and concerns of inquiries have changed over time. The article concludes with a consideration about how concerns about abuse of children in state care or monitored by the state can be more effectively inquired into.
In an effort to sort out the reality from the controversies and anxiety, the Family Research Laboratory, with funding from the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, undertook a two-year nationwide investigation of sexual abuse in day care. The study was intended to answer a broad range of questions about the problem, looking not just at the sensational and controversial cases, but "ordinary" cases as well—cases that were handled in a routine and unremarkable fashion. This book reports that study. The book addresses issues related to the incidence of the problem and whether day care is a high-risk environment for children (Chapter 1). It describes the perpetrators of this abuse, and tries to evaluate various strategies for screening them from access to children (Chapter 2). The book also describes the victims and the dynamics of abuse (Chapters 3 and 4) and the characteristics of facilities (Chapter 7), all with an eye toward finding vulnerabilities that might be better protected. The process of detection and disclosure is examined carefully (Chapter 5) for ideas about how to promote more, better, and earlier reports. The impact on the children is examined for help in working with victims in the aftermath (Chapter 6). The study also looked into the social and professional response to cases of abuse. Chapter 8 describes the types of investigations that occurred, the kinds of problems encountered by investigators, and the relative effectiveness of different approaches. Chapter 9 details the types of actions taken by licensing and law-enforcement agencies, trying to evaluate whether the response was effective and appropriate. Finally, Chapter 10 discusses the kind of impact that cases had on the communities where they occurred, an impact that in some cases was profound and long-lasting. All in all, the report touches on many facets of the problem. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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