Australian Institute of Criminology

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Large scale, longitudinal study of sex abuse victims released

Media Release

22 June 2012

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) today released a paper on the likelihood of child sexual abuse (CSA) victims becoming offenders.

Child sexual abuse and subsequent offending and victimisation: A 45 year follow-up study by James Ogloff, Margaret Cutajar, Emily Mann and Paul Mullen, shows CSA victims were almost five times more likely than the general population to be charged with any offence than their non-abused counterparts, with strongest associations found for sexual and violent offences.

With a sample size of 2759 cases over the 31 year time frame, this is the largest study to demonstrate that the majority of victims sexually abused during childhood do not perpetuate the cycle of violence by becoming an offender or by the ongoing victimisation of violence.

However, in general, CSA victims were 1.4 times more likely to have some form of contact with the police for any matter compared with other members of the general community.

Although most (77%) CSA victims did not have an official criminal record, CSA victims were almost five times more likely than others to be charged with any offence, with the strongest rates for sexual and violence offences, and breach of orders.

A surprisingly high percentage of male victims were subsequently convicted of a sexual offence (5% of all male victims and 9.2% of those aged 12 years and above at the time of their victimisation).
Co-author Dr Margaret Cutajar stated: “This report highlights the need for therapeutic interventions targeted at adolescent male CSA victims with a focus on positive sexuality in attempt to reduce their heightened risk of committing a sexual offence.

“The benefits of psychological treatment for trauma, addressing victims’ mental health problems and preventing or addressing criminogenic risk factors such as low education and employment attainment, substance abuse and negative supports, in the aftermath of sexual abuse to both male and female victims is also likely to reduce the risks of offending in general and violent offences in particular,” she said.

The report is available at www.aic.gov.au

For Comment: Colin Campbell 0418 159 525