Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Masters in Criminology to the Technological University Dublin, 2010.


This research project considers a frequently ignored dimension of adolescent sexual abuse, the parents and families of the adolescent perpetrator. This study focuses on eliciting professionals‟ views of the impact on the family when an adolescent member has sexually abused. The context for the study is outlined with an account of the prevalence of and explanations for adolescent sexual abuse. The study proceeds to look at legislation and the impact on labelling. Areas relating to the family on the impact of disclosure, parental reactions and the process of engagement are explored.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five professionals working within the child welfare and criminal justice system who worked with young people who had sexually abused and their families. The purpose of the study was to explore with professionals their perceived perception of the impact having an adolescent sexual abusing member has on families, from their contact with family members.

The findings and analysis suggest, from the professionals‟ perspective, that families are faced with many issues when confronted with the discovery that their child has sexually abused. These include emotional upheaval, risk management and issues regarding engaging with services. If the aim of therapeutic intervention with sexually abusing youth is to reduce the risk of further abuse and to help the young person develop a healthy lifestyle, this study contends from the professionals‟ perspective, that family involvement in this process is essential. The researcher concludes this study by making recommendations.