Preventing Child Sexual Abuse

This series of reports from the Children’s Commissioner of England addresses a number of issues related to the investigation and prevention of child sexual abuse (CSA), including the length of criminal investigations, what role schools have to play in the prevention of child sexual abuse, and the experiences of children themselves of help-seeking and support following sexual abuse in the family.

Investigating Child Sexual Abuse: The Length of Criminal Investigations, was published in April 2017, and concluded that the investigative process for CSA cases was considerably longer than for adult sexual offences. Using Home Office data from 18 police forces and national data from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the report investigated timescales in CSA cases in England between 2012/13 and 2015/16, and found that the median length between the initial report and the finalisation in court was 248 for CSA cases compared with 147 days for adult sexual offences.

Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: The Role of Schools, also published in April 2017, and concluded that the potential role of schools in preventing child sexual abuse – giving children the knowledge to recognise abuse and seek help, as well as the early identification of victims – was not being fulfilled. Through a survey issued to all schools in England as well as a series of focus groups, the report assessed the provision of education programmes related to the prevention of CSA, and found that although schools were generally confident about identifying CSA, they reported that substantiating concerns to the level necessary for referral to the local authority was more challenging.

Making Noise: Children’s voices for positive change after sexual abuse, published in April 2017, was carried out in 2015/16 by the International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking in partnership with the NSPCC. The study was comprised of in-depth qualitative interviews with children aged 6-19 and aimed to understand their experiences of recognition, identification and disclosure of CSA in the family environment; help-seeking and support; contact with services as a result of reporting/identification of CSA; care systems; and criminal justice procedures.


Children’s Commissioner of England
Preventing Child Sexual Abuse
19 April 2017