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2.2.6 Sexual abuse

Last Modified: 26-Jul-2019 Review Date: 03-Jan-2017

Purpose

To guide child protection workers on the assessment, analysis and intervention of allegations of child sexual abuse.

Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (the Department).

Practice Requirements
 
  • Kinship relationships:  You must consult with the relevant staff in your district, that is, an appropriate Aboriginal officer or if the family has a culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD)  background, with a senior CaLD officer in you district; if not available,consult with the Principal Policy and Planning Officer Cultural Diversity, Professional Practice Unit.

  • All allegations of child sexual abuse reported to the local district office must be referred to and discussed with childFIRST (metropolitan) or Western Australia Police (regional).

  • The Mandatory Reporting Service must refer all reports to WA Police through the childFIRST under s.124D(2) Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 (Criminal Code), and provide a copy of the written mandatory report and the assessment of the information received.

  • childFIRST (metropolitan), the Department or WA Police (regional) must convene a joint strategy meeting (face-to-face, via telephone or videoconference) for all allegations of child sexual abuse.

  • You, your team leader and childFIRST (metropolitan only) must attend the joint strategy meeting.

  • If childFIRST or WA Police determine that a joint investigation is not required, you must continue to undertake a child safety investigation (CSI) and advise childFIRST if the decision needs to be reviewed.

  • You must seek parental consent for a medical or forensic examination of the child.

  • If the child needs to be medically examined without the consent of the parents, you must take statutory action to bring the child into provisional protection and care. Refer to Chapter 3.3: Intervention action for further information.

  • In cases of acute assault where the child may have injuries or require treatment and there may be forensic evidence present, the child must be taken to the local hospital as soon as possible for an immediate assessment of the child's health needs.

  • The Perth Children's Hospital Child Protection Unit requires parental consent to conduct  physical examinations, and this should be sought at the clinic. If the child is in the CEO's care, you must seek approval from your district director.

  • You must consider the safety of siblings and other children who may be in contact, reside or regularly stay with the person the Department is concerned about.

  • To assess the child's safety needs you must consider:

    • whether there is immediate threat of harm to child
    • whether the child is vulnerable to further harm, and
    • the extent of protective capacities within the family and safety network to reduce and respond to harm.
  • You must develop an effective and rigourous safety plan with the family to keep the children safe from further harm. The safety plan must be reviewed on a regular basis.

  • You must inform one of the child's parents as soon as practicable that you have had access to their child and the reasons for it.

  • If the parents refuse consent for you to interview their child, you must apply for a s.34 warrant (access) to interview the child. Refer to the section 'Warrant (access) under s.34' in Chapter 2.2 Conducting a child safety investigation for further information.

  • A child assessment interview is not required if the child has made a disclosure. When this occurs the child must only have a forensic interview, which is undertaken by childFIRST (metropolitan) or WA Police (regional).

  • childFIRST (metropolitan) or you and WA Police (regional) must meet with the parents after the interview. The parent or caregiver must be:

    • given sufficient information to keep the child safe
    • be informed of the next steps in the investigation,
    • have their questions or concerns addressed, and
    • be provided with relevant contact information.
  • When you substantiate that a child has been harmed, you must make a decision on whether a person is responsible for the harm. A decision to substantiate harm is not dependent on the identification of a person responsible or a person assessed as causing significant harm.
      

Procedures

  • Overview
  • Grooming and coercion
  • Referrals
  • Medical and forensic examinations
  • Interviewing
  • Assessments
  • Information and services for the child and family
  • Overview

    Sexual abuse of children covers behaviours and activities that expose or subject a child to sexual acts that are exploitative and/or inappropriate to his or her age and development level. Examples of this include sexual penetration, inappropriate touching, exposure to sexual acts or pornographic materials and using the internet for grooming and soliciting children for sexual exploitation.

    Under s.24A of the Act, sexual activities between young people are not considered as sexual abuse unless:

    • as the child is subject of bribery, coercion, threats, exploitation or violence
    • the child has less power than the other person, or
    • there is significant disparity in the developmental function or maturity.
       

    Child sexual abuse can be broadly categorised as 'intra-familial' or 'extra-familial'.

    'Intra-familial' child sexual abuse is perpetrated by a person who is a relative of the child or has a kinship relationship with the child. This applies to any child under 18 years of age.  

    The term "relative" is defined in s.3 of the Act as:  in relation to a child, means each of the following people

    (a)  the child's —

    (i) parent, grandparent or other ancestor;

    (ii) step‑parent;

    (iii) sibling;

    (iv) uncle or aunt;

    (v) cousin;

    (vi) spouse or de facto partner,

    whether the relationship is established by, or traced through, consanguinity, marriage, a de facto relationship, a written law or a natural relationship;

    (b)   in the case of an Aboriginal child, a person regarded under the customary law or tradition of the child's community as the equivalent of a person mentioned in paragraph (a);

    (c)   in the case of a Torres Strait Islander child, a person regarded under the customary law or tradition of the Torres Strait Islands as the equivalent of a person mentioned in paragraph (a).

    Children in kinship relationships

    Staff must consult with appropriate Aboriginal staff in their districts, with a senior CaLD officer in the district, or, if none available, the Principal Policy and Planning Officer Cultural Diversity, Professional Practice Unit.  

     

    'Extra-familial' child sexual abuse is refers to abuse by a person who is not a relative of the child, or by a person outside the child or young person's kinship system.

    The Department does not generally investigate allegations of extra-familial child sexual abuse; WA Police undertake these investigations.

     

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    Grooming and coercion

    Grooming is the subtle, deliberate transition process of gaining a child's trust, manipulating power differences and building emotional connections for the purpose of sexually abusing them. Perpetrators may also build a relationship with the child's family or caregiver to make them seem trustworthy or authoritative and to discredit the child. 

    Perpetrators set up a relationship with the child that is grounded in secrecy to control, frighten and intimidate, so that their crime is less likely to be suspected or discovered. By breaking down the child's inhibitions and desensitising the child, the perpetrator secures the child's compliance and escalates the intrusiveness of sexual behaviour over time.

    Children can be groomed online, in person or both; by a stranger or someone they know such as a family member, a friend or someone who has targeted them e.g. a teacher or sports coach. A child is unlikely to know they have been groomed even if they might be worried or confused and less likely to speak to an adult. 

    Grooming may include: 

    • showing interest in a child and pretending to share common interests;
    • being complimentary towards the child;
    • making the child feel special and grown-up;
    • enticement, bribes or rewards such as money, gifts, holidays or outings for a child;
    • preferential treatment of one child over others;
    • allowing and encouraging a child to break rules and not disciplining the child;
    • taking the child on holidays, car trips or outings away from their parent or caregivers; and
    • isolating a child from their family, caregivers and friends.

     

    It is important to note that some of these behaviours may be appropriate befhaviour between an adult and a child. 

    They must be assessed within the context of the situation.

    In most cases, coercion and fear is common in child sexual abuse.

    Coercion involves a power imbalance between the alleged abuser and the child which may relate to: 

    • age and developmental level
    • intellectual ability
    • knowledge
    • experience, and
    • gender.

    Fear may include: 

    • threats of negative consequences or blackmail
    • threats of harm to the child, family members or pets if they don't comply 
    • confusing the child into feeling responsible, and
    • blaming the child.

    The effects of grooming can result in the child having difficulty sleeping, bedwetting, struggling to concentrate or cope with school work. Children may also experience conflicting feelings like loyalty, admiration, love and at the same time, fear, distress and confusion. The child may become withdrawn, anxious, uncommunicative, angry or upset. 

    For further information on grooming, visit the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children website 'What is Grooming?'

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    Referrals

    Western Australia (WA) Police

    All allegations of child sexual abuse reported to the local district office must be referred to and discussed with childFIRST (metropolitan) or WA Police (regional). This joint approach to child sexual abuse investigations aims to minimise the impact of additional stress on the child during the assessment and investigation process and minimise the number of times a child is required to retell their experiences.

    There are a number of offences in the Criminal Code that relate to the sexual assault of a child. These offences include:

    • Sexual offences against a child under 13 (s.320)
    • Sexual offences against a child of or over 13 and under 16 (s.321)
    • Persistent sexual conduct with a child under 16 (s.321A)
    • Sexual offences against a child of or over 16 by a person in authority etc. (s.322)
    • Sexual offences by relative and the like (s.329)
    • Sexual servitude (s.331B)
    • Conducting business involving sexual servitude (s.331C), and
    • Deceptive recruiting for commercial sexual services (s.331D(2))

    The Mandatory Reporting Service must refer all reports to WA Police through the childFIRST under s.124D(2) of the Criminal Code, and provide a copy of the written mandatory report and the assessment of the information received.

    Joint strategy meetings

    childFIRST (metropolitan), the Department, or WA Police (regional) must convene a joint strategy meeting (face-to-face, via telephone or videoconference) for all allegations of child sexual abuse.

    You, your team leader, and childFIRST (metropolitan only) must attend the joint strategy meeting. 

     

    The purpose of a joint strategy meeting is to determine whether:

    • immediate medical attention is required for the child
    • a plan needs to be developed to manage the child's immediate safety needs
    • a joint investigation/assessment (by WA Police and the Department) is required, or
    • a single agency department assessment or WA Police investigation is required.

    The joint strategy meeting also considers:

    • whether a medical or forensic examination is required for the child and if required, subsequent timing of the examination
    • how to manage the child's ongoing safety needs during the forensic investigation. This may include safety planning or alternative placement
    • who needs to be interviewed (for example the child, parents, other children or siblings, or other persons who may have knowledge relating to the investigation)
    • in what order the interviews will be conducted, where and by whom
    • whether the parents will be informed prior to interviewing the child, and
    • factors surrounding the safety of workers.

    If childFIRST or WA Police determine that a joint investigation is not required, you must continue to undertake a child safety investigation and advise childFIRST if the decision needs to be reviewed.  

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    Medical and forensic examinations

    A medical assessment is necessary to identify physical injuries, secure forensic evidence and provide for the wellbeing of the child.

    You must seek parental consent for a medical or forensic examination of the child.

    You should discuss the need for a medical or forensic examination as part of the joint strategy meeting or for a 'Department only assessment' with your team leader.

    The findings of the physical examination and other relevant information are provided in writing to the Department, WA Police and, if requested by the parent, to his or her legal adviser. Refer to the resource Medical and forensic examinations for further information.

    For information on how to assess and respond to sexually transmitted infections (STI) notifications, refer to Chapter 2.2 Sexually Transmitted infection notifications.         

     

    Medical examinations include both physical and psychological examination. An examination may lead to:

    • detection of injury to the child that requires treatment
    • detection of sexually transmitted infection
    • confirmation or discounting of pregnancy
    • detection of other conditions not associated with the sexual abuse, and
    • forensic evidence of sexual assault.

    When considering the need for a medical or forensic examination, the following must be taken into account:

    • Purpose - the forensic examination gathers information and evidence for criminal proceedings. and the medical examination identifies and meets the medical requirements of the child

    • Appropriateness - particularly in cases of sexual abuse, a physical examination may be distressing to the child or young person. The decision to conduct an examination for forensic purposes must take account of the nature of abuse that has been disclosed and the likelihood that physical evidence will be detected. The need for a physical examination for medical purposes is determined by the nature of any injury.

    • Timing - the timing of a physical examination for forensic purposes needs to take account of the nature of abuse and how recently it occurred.

    If the child needs to be medically examined without the consent of the parents the child protection worker must take statutory action to bring the child into provisional protection and care. Refer to Chapter 3.3 Intervention action for further information.

    It is preferred that the child is examined in the presence of their parent or accompanying adult.  If the child requests that they wish to undergo the examination without another person present, this should be respected.

    When the child is referred for a medical assessment, you should wherever possible, accompany the child, parent or caregiver to the assessment so the child:

    • does not have to repeat the details of the abuse
    • provide information that the parent, caregiver, or child may not disclose, and
    • to address any safety concerns that may arise during the clinic appointment

    You should explain to the child, the parent or carer, and other relevant people, what a medical examination involves.  The examination for evidence of sexual assault is conducted within the context of a complete physical examination.

    In cases of acute assault where the child may have injuries or require treatment, and there may be forensic evidence present the child must be taken to the local hospital as soon as possible and the child's immediate health needs assessed.

    The hospital will determine who will conduct a forensic examination if needed and can discuss with CPU as required.

     

    Criteria for an urgent medical examination

    1. The timing of a medical examination needs to take account of the nature of abuse and how recently it occurred. The decision to medically examine a child should be made jointly with Perth Children's Hospital Child Protection Unit (CPU) during office hours and the Emergency Department after hours where the CPU has a doctor on call.

    2. An urgent physical examination may be required if a child has been sexually assaulted within the past 72 hours as forensic evidence (DNA, blood, hair or semen), may be present in or on the child or his/her clothing and acute injuries, such as lacerations, abrasions, bites and bruising may be evident.

    3. If the event occurred between 72 hours and 14 days, a priority appointment is scheduled. Children may also require treatment in cases of exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STI) and adolescents may require emergency contraception.

    4. The CPU will also arrange for physical examinations for children who have been sexually abused in the past where the child,  parent or caregiver is concerned about health issues. The CPU can also provide STI testing and therapeutic services.

    Medical and forensic services in Western Australia

    The Perth Children's Hospital CPU and the Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC) are the primary services set up in Western Australia to provide forensic examinations of child sexual abuse. The SARC see children 13 years of age and older and the CPU see children up to 16 years of age.

    Children from rural areas are transported to the PCH CPU for a full forensic examination. The SARC also have some rural services.

     

     

    Guidelines for child sexual abuse specify that preliminary forensic specimens can be taken by any doctor so a child can eat and toilet without forensic evidence being lost. The CPU can then do a full forensic examination or investigation if warranted.

    Making a referral

    1. You should contact the Perth Children's Hospital CPU or SARC to discuss scheduling an appointment for the child or young person to be seen by a medical practitioner.

    2. If you are unable to attend, you should provide a written referral before the appointment.

    3. Where possible, parental consent should be provided for examination and documentation, and you should attend the appointment with the child and parent or carer

    4. The CPU requires parental consent to conduct a physical examination and this should be sought at the clinic. If the child is in care of the CEO, then you must seek approval from your district director.

    5. Refer to chapter 3.2.8 Medical or dental treatment – including immunisations for further information.

    Transferring children

    Where possible, children should be assessed locally to minimise the impact on the child and family. If this is not possible and the child needs to be seen by the Perth Children's Hospital CPU, you should work with the local health service, CPU, and WA Police to transport the child for a medical assessment.

    WA Health will determine if a child is medically fit to be transferred. The local health service can take preliminary specimens from the child and WA Police can take photos of any visible injuries that the child may have. 

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    Interviewing

    Interviewing the child

    Wherever possible, parents or guardians should be advised of the allegations made in relation to their children, and you should request the parent's consent to interview their child.

    You, without informing a child's parents, may have access to the child at a school, hospital or a place where a child care service is provided, and remain at the school, hospital or place, for as long as you reasonably consider necessary for the purposes of the investigation.

    This should be considered in circumstances where, if the child's parents were to know in advance of the contact, the investigation would be likely to be jeopardised.

     

    You must inform one of the child's parents as soon as practicable that you have had access to their child and the reasons for it.

    In circumstances where the parents refuse consent for you to interview their child, you must apply for a warrant (access) under s.34 of the Act to interview the child. Refer to Chapter 2.2 Conducting a child safety investigation for further information.

     

    Child assessment interview

    A child assessment interview may occur:
    1. as a result of a decision not to undertake a joint investigation with WA Police, or
    2. in order to determine whether a forensic interview (joint investigation with WA Police) is warranted. 

    A child assessment interview is not required if the child has made a disclosure.  In these circumstances the child must only have a forensic interview. 

    For further information regarding child assessment interviews, including guidance on how to respond to a disclosure of sexual abuse, refer to Chapter 2.2 - section Child assessment interview.

     

    Forensic interview 

    The forensic interview of a child must be undertaken by childFIRST (metropolitan) or WA Police (regional). The purpose of the forensic interview is to obtain an accurate and reliable account of the sexual abuse in a way that is fair, is in the child's best interest and is acceptable in criminal proceedings.

    Where possible, attend and observe the forensic interview, along with the detective in the recording room. The child protection worker may also support the child and family during breaks in the interview and be involved in the debriefing/follow up process.

    The child protection worker's role during a forensic interview is to:

    1. determine what areas may require further assessment
    2. assist in identifying any gaps in the child's account that emerge, and
    3. make certain the best interests of the child are the paramount consideration

    Child protection workers may also have a role in determining the pace, breaks and whether more than one interview session is required.

    childFIRST (metropolitan) or child protection workers and WA Police (regional) must meet with the parent(s) after the interview. The parent/caregiver must be provided with sufficient information to keep the child safe.  The parent/caregiver must also be informed of the next steps in the investigation, address any questions or concerns, and provided with relevant contact information.

     

    Interviewing the non-abusing parent or caregiver) 

    You should assess and evaluate the capacity of the non-abusing parent to work through the trauma of discovering that their child has been sexually abused and to provide an appropriate level of safety to that child.

    To determine the level of safety that the non-abusing parent or caregiver can provide child protection workers should consider:

    1. their willingness and/or capacity to protect the child victim, including their view of the veracity of the allegations
    2. the quality of their relationship with the child such as positive, ambivalent or negative
    3. the level of dependency, particularly on the alleged perpetrator
    4. whether family domestic violence is present – have they been groomed by the perpetrator?
    5. do they believe the child, and
    6. whether they are minimising the concerns.

    Regular reviews of the non-abusing parent's circumstances, abilities or motivation are important as these aspects may change over time. The non-abusing parent is likely to need assistance to seek support and/or counselling during this time.

     

    Interviewing the alleged perpetrator (parent or caregiver) 

    In most instances where a joint investigation is occurring, the WA Police prefer to interview the alleged perpetrator before the child protection worker makes contact. Where there are no concerns for the child's safety, the child protection worker should negotiate with the WA Police the timing of the interview of the alleged perpetrator.  Refer to Chapter 2.2 – section: Working with WA Police.

    Consider the following when interviewing the alleged perpetrator:

    1. whether they refute or support the allegation
    2. additional information provided regarding the allegation by the alleged perpetrator
    3. quality of the relationship with the child victim and other family members (to determine the level of risk to the child's safety)
    4. parenting management strategies and discipline used by the alleged perpetrator and whether this increases the safety or risks for the child, and
    5. attempts to understand the cause of the abuse

     

     

    Interview siblings and other children in the household

    As part of the joint investigation and for a 'Department only assessment', the child protection worker will need to consider whether other children who reside or regularly stay in the house where the abuse is alleged to have occurred are at risk of harm and may need to be interviewed also.  

     

    Gathering relevant information 

    In addition to interviewing the child, alleged perpetrator, non-offender parent/caregiver and any other children the child protection worker may contact other agencies or individuals for further information concerning the allegation of child sexual abuse.

    To determine whether any additional information should be gathered, child protection workers should consider whether information is required:

    1. to support information already gathered
    2. to further assess where risk of harm or abuse is still suspected although initial interviews have not confirmed this, or
    3. to enable a comprehensive assessment of the any action that may be required to promote or safeguard the child's wellbeing.
       

     

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    Assessments

    In both a joint investigation and a 'Department only assessment' you are responsible for assessing and managing the child's immediate and ongoing safety needs.

    You must also consider the safety of siblings and other children who may be in contact with, reside or regularly stay with the person we are concerned about. You should also consider any other children that meet the threshold for a Child Safety Investigation.

    To assess the child's safety needs you must consider:

    • whether there is immediate threat of harm to child
    • whether the child is vulnerable to further harm, and
    • the extent of protective capacities within family and safety network to lessen/respond to harm.

    Building safety for the child is challenging with families where sexual abuse is alleged to have occurred and the alleged perpetrator disputes or 'denies' the abuse. Refer to Building safety when harm is denied for further information.

    Within the context of child sexual abuse there may be a person who is considered a 'non-abusing' parent or caregiver.  Support and protection by the non-abusing parent plays a crucial role in addressing the impact on the child and in protecting the child from further abuse.

    The decision regarding whether or not the child should be removed from the family home is a professional judgement which should be based on the level of risk to the child if they remain in the family home while the assessment is undertaken.

    You must develop a safety plan with the family that is effective and rigorous to keep the children safe from further harm. The safety plan must be reviewed on a regular basis.

     

    Assessing the impact of sexual abuse on children

    Child protection workers should recognise that with allegations of child sexual abuse, harm in some cases may not be readily identifiable and confirmation of the act can be considered to constitute substantiation.

    It is important to be aware that in cases of sexual abuse, emotional and psychological harm are often more likely than physical harm.       

    Effects of child sexual abuse

    The effect of child sexual abuse is different for every child. Some children may have high levels of distress and some may show signs of distress some period after the abuse occurred.

    Child sexual abuse damages children physically, emotionally and behaviourally. Both its initial effects and long-term consequences impact on the child, on their family and on the community.

    Early identification and effective intervention can ameliorate the initial effects and long-term consequences of child sexual abuse and promote the recovery of victims. 

    Initial effects of child sexual abuse may include: ) 

    • sexualised behaviour
    • post-traumatic stress disorder
    • medical problems such as sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and physical injury
    • emotional problems such as guilt, anger, hostility, anxiety, fear, shame and lowered self-esteem
    • behavioural problems such as aggression, delinquency, nightmares, phobias, eating and sleeping disorders, and
    • school problems and truancy.

     

    Long term consequences may include: ) 

    • sexual dysfunction (such as flashbacks, difficulty in arousal, avoidance of or phobic reactions to sexual intimacy)
    • promiscuity
    • prostitution
    • discomfort in intimate relationships
    • isolation
    • marital problems
    • depression
    • anxiety
    • post-traumatic stress
    • poor self esteem
    • drug or alcohol abuse
    • eating disorders, and
    • suicide.

    Refer to the following related resources to assess the impact on the child: 

    Assessing parental protectiveness

    You should consider the following when determining parental protectiveness:

    • nature of the offences (predatory versus opportunistic)
    • previous convictions or concerns
    • the alleged perpetrator's level of accountability for the abuse
    • the parent's views and wishes, level of cooperation, and acknowledgement or denial of concerns
    • the protectiveness of the non-abusing parent or caregiver
    • the child's wishes, and
    • involvement or action by WA Police.

    Assessing and responding to sexual abuse by a child to a sibling or another child

    Sexual abuse of children by adults does not represent all child sexual abuse that occurs.  

    Children can be harmed by other children who exhibit harmful sexual behaviours, a broad spectrum of behaviours.

    These behaviours can range from those that are developmentally inappropriate and may harm only the child exhibiting the behaviours, such as inappropriate touching or inappropriate nudity, to criminal behaviours such as sexual assault – which can be harmful to the child exhibiting the behaviours and the child victim.

    You should consider the following when assessing if harm has occurred:

    • the type of sexual activity and whether it is normally expected for the child's level of development
    • power differentials
    • duration
    • differences in physical size, and
    • the presence of threats and coercive behaviour.

    Refer to Sexual behaviours of children  for further information.

    You should consider the following to determine the family's capacity to monitor the child's behavior and provide safety:

    • family strengths and safety
    • previous history of supervision
    • level of distortion in relation to the effects of abuse
    • potential risk of recidivism by the child
    • parent or carer's support
    • parent, carer, or extended family history of sexual abuse and other forms of abuse and neglect
    • parent or carer's functioning, attitude toward and response to treatment and support, and
    • needs of the victim versus family unity.

    Refer to Prompts for assessing and responding to child sexual abuse when the alleged perpetrator is a child for further information.

    Determining whether harm has occurred and if someone is responsible for the harm

    The standard of proof to substantiate significant harm or likelihood of significant harm is different from that required to secure a conviction in criminal justice proceedings. Therefore, it is likely that situations will arise in which an alleged perpetrator is not charged, convicted or found guilty of an offence in a Court, but harm should be substantiated and a person assessed as causing significant harm.

    You should refer to Analysing the child assessment interview, forensic interview and the child's behavior and consider the indicators of trauma and the impact of trauma in the Child Development and Trauma Guide when determining whether significant harm has occurred or is likely to occur (both in related resources).

    Significant harm can be substantiated if any of the following are evident: 

    • strong medical, physical, behavioural and psychological evidence
    • admission on the part of the alleged perpetrator
    • a clear statement of harm from the child -in these instances you should believe the child, and work to establish the validity of the child's claim
    • credible statements from individuals who have knowledge that the harm has occurred, or
    • a marked discrepancy between the caregiver's explanation and the nature of the injury.

    Likelihood of harm

    Where it is assessed that child sexual abuse has occurred but harm is not evident, you  must use your knowledge of child development and the nature of the abuse to form an opinion about the possible implications for the child and the likelihood of the child experiencing harm.

    Examples of likelihood of harm could include situations where an event has occurred or not yet happened but harm is not evident, such as a sex offender (or alleged perpetrator) may be in contact with a child and the primary caregiver is not protective.

    When you substantiate that a child has been harmed, a decision must be made on whether a person is responsible for the harm. A decision to substantiate harm is not dependent on the identification of a person responsible or a person assessed as causing significant harm.

    Safety planning, ongoing assessment and review

    You should consider the following when developing a safety plan for allegations of child sexual abuse cases:

    • the ability of the primary caregiver, non-abusing parent or carer to be protective and acknowledge, understand and take action in response to the risk posed by the alleged perpetrator
    • any bail conditions set for the alleged perpetrator
    • identification of other people in the network who may be able to increase safety
    • the alleged perpetrator not being left alone with any children at any time, and
    • the daily care of the child by the primary caregiver, including toileting and bathing

     

    You must also consider the safety needs of other children living in the home or in significant contact with the alleged perpetrator.

    Refer to:

    Safety planning for children with harmful sexual behaviours

    Where the child has harmful sexual behaviours, you should consider:

    • whether the child can be safely maintained in the current environment
    • whether other children have already been sexually enculturated
    • whether other children need support with developing protective behavioursline-of-sight supervision is needed at all times
    • whether restrictions on venues and style of play are necessary
    • whether sleeping arrangements need to be changed
    • whether restrictions need to be placed upon television viewing and the child's access to written and pictorial materials
    • whether extra support is needed within the home, and
    • whether the child/ren who have been victimised and the alleged perpetrator have access to therapeutic assessment and treatment.
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    Information and services for the child and family

    In planning treatment services you need to assess and consider the issues for all persons involved, and where possible, facilitate an integrated treatment approach that is most likely to achieve the best outcomes for all concerned.

    While an integrated approach is vital in intra familial abuse cases these same issues may also apply to extra familial abuse situations and interventions should therefore be based on an assessment of the impact of the abuse of all persons involved.

    Consultation with your team leader, senior practice development officer and Department psychologist may assist in determining the most appropriate treatment options.       

    You can refer children and families for treatment services to the:

    Refer to the following related resources for further information:

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