Situational Crime Prevention

Understanding Situational Crime Prevention for Child Sexual Abuse: What services need to know

Authors: Professor Daryl Higgins, Sam Morley

Situational Crime Prevention is one theoretical approach that can be used by organisations to develop whole-of- organisation responses that focus on the policies, practices and strategies that can reduce children and young people’s vulnerability and empower all adults to play an active part in their protection.  For child abuse to occur there must be an adult or young person who has the potential to offend, a vulnerable child or young person, an environment that enables abuse to occur and an opportunity for the adult or young person to offend. Situational Crime Prevention focuses on the factors that enable child sexual abuse to occur in organisations rather than just ‘weeding out’ potential offenders.

Situational Crime Prevention approaches aim to remove excuses for the harm of children, increase the level of difficulty for someone to offend, reduce the appeal of the crime and the vulnerability of the child, while fostering organisational cultures where all adults take an active role in identifying and responding to risks to children’s safety. As well as explaining the theory of Situational Crime Prevention, the article provides suggestions for how to identify strategies that organisations can implement, including: increasing effort for offenders; increasing risks for offenders; and removing excuses/reducing permissibility of the organisation.

It also identifies examples of key factors that organisations should assess to determine their ‘risk-level’ for child sexual abuse - including: characteristics of the children you serve; the physical environment and routine activities of the organisation, and its policies and overall culture.

Read more (PDF, 435KB)

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For further information on crisis responses and reporting child abuse and neglect, see: Australian Institue of Family Studies website.

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