The Centre of expertise of child sexual abuse (CSA Centre) has commissioned MDX & UEL academics to undertake an 18 month study to develop and test a typology of CSA offending to address current gaps in knowledge and inconsistent approaches to the nature of offending.
The project will be co-led by Dr Elena Martellozzo (MDX) and Professor Julia Davidson (UEL) and supported by Dr Daniela Lup (MDX), Professor Joanne Alder (MDX), Dr Jeffrey DeMarco and our newly appointed research assistant, Dr Aviah Sarah Day.
The project will explore the fluidity of online and offline offending behaviours and contexts across offence categories. Current ‘typologies’ or ‘models’ of CSA have largely been developed by those working in criminal justice and child protection to help them describe what they see in their practice. While this is an understandable response, it has led to inconsistencies and confusion regarding what we mean when we use terms to describe different types of child sexual abuse. This research will contribute to filling those gaps by using an alternative evidence-based approach. That is to say, the typology will describe the ways and contexts in which children are sexually abused and how these may overlap. For example, it will show, based on evidence, if ‘organised exploitation’ or ‘grooming gangs’ are a clearly defined type of offending, and if so, what the characteristics are and how these overlap with other forms of CSA offending.
The researchers will not be interviewing or working directly with those who have sexually abused children and will therefore not specifically look at the motivations of those who offend. Also, it is not the aim of this project to present a picture of the scale of CSA but to focus on the nature of sex offences against children.
The aim of the Centre of expertise on child sexual abuse (CSA Centre) is to create a future where children are free from the threat and harm of sexual abuse by radically improving how we prevent and respond to the issue through really understanding its causes, scope, scale and impact.