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Child Abuse Negl. 2017 Dec;74:86-98. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.07.007. Epub 2017 Aug 5.

Optimising implementation of reforms to better prevent and respond to child sexual abuse in institutions: Insights from public health, regulatory theory, and Australia's Royal Commission.

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Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Electronic address:


The Australian Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has identified multiple systemic failures to protect children in government and non-government organizations providing educational, religious, welfare, sporting, cultural, arts and recreational activities. Its recommendations for reform will aim to ensure organizations adopt more effective and ethical measures to prevent, identify and respond to child sexual abuse. However, apart from the question of what measures institutions should adopt, an under-explored question is how to implement and regulate those measures. Major challenges confronting reform include the diversity of organizations providing services to children; organizational resistance; and the need for effective oversight. Failure to adopt theoretically sound strategies to overcome implementation barriers will jeopardize reform and compromise reduction of institutional child sexual abuse. This article first explains the nature of the Royal Commission, and focuses on key findings from case studies and data analysis. It then analyzes public health theory and regulatory theory to present a novel analysis of theoretically justified approaches to the implementation of measures to prevent, identify and respond to CSA, while isolating challenges to implementation. The article reviews literature on challenges to reform and compliance, and on prevention of institutional CSA and situational crime prevention, to identify measures which have attracted emerging consensus as recommended practice. Finally, it applies its novel integration of regulatory theory and public health theory to the context of CSA in institutional contexts, to develop a theoretical basis for a model of implementation and regulation, and to indicate the nature and functions of a regulatory body for this context.


Child and youth serving organizations; Child sexual abuse; Prevention approaches; Public health; Regulation; Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

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