Young People’s Perceptions of Sexual Assault in Residential Care: “It Does Happen a Lot”

Jodi Death, Tim Moore, Morag McArthur, Steven Roche, Claire Tilbury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission) examined child sexual abuse within a wide range of institutions that provide services to children, this included residential facilities. The current study (funded by the Royal Commission) considers young people’s perception of safety in residential care; specifically, the current study attended to the voices of young people who spoke about sexual harassment and assault in qualitative interviews. Interviews were conducted with young people aged between 13 and 21 years who were or had recently been in residential care. Participants were asked for their perceptions of situations in a series of vignettes describing various levels and types of sexual assault and harassment. During these interviews, the young people in this study voluntarily reported known incidences of sexual assault and harassment in varying levels, perpetrated by workers, individuals outside of residential care, and peers within residential care. Sexual assault and harassment was discussed in heteronormative and gendered ways with young men seen as perpetrators and protectors, and young women seen as being vulnerable. Further, it was evident from this study, that there were varying responses to these situations from workers within the residential care facilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-20
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse: research, treatment and program innovations for victims, survivors and offenders
Issue number1
Early online date11 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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