Religious institutions second behind schools for sexual abuse in institutions – report

Child sexual abuse in an institutional setting is most likely to occur in schools, followed by religious institutions and care homes, according to research by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). 

The IICSA study is based on over 5,100 accounts from victims across a range of contexts, including schools, religious institutions and healthcare settings. 

It found that when child sexual abuse occurred in an institution, it was most likely to have taken place in a school (15%), followed by religious settings and care homes (6% each). 

The accounts were shared IICSA’s Truth Project, which is drawing to a close this year.

Overall, 40% of respondents to the Truth Project reported experiencing abuse in an institution. 

(Photo: IICSA)

One victim identified only as Ricky suffered emotional and physical abuse in a Catholic children’s home. He also suffered sexual abuse by two members of staff – a priest and a nun. 

He described how his abusers “took away my childhood and destroyed my life and the lives of others”.

Another victim named only as Kenny was sexually abused by the choirmaster at his church. 

He told the inquiry that “society should not tolerate organisations protecting their image rather than children”.

Over a third of the victims were between the ages of four and seven when the abuse began, while most (87%) reported experiencing mental health issues as a result of what they had experienced. Over a third said they had suffered from depression because of the abuse.

Although the Truth Project will close this year, victims and survivors who would like to share their experience can still do so by phone, via video call or in writing. More information about how to share can be found on the Truth Project website.



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