The impact of institutional child abuse: Views of professionals

Ozanne, Rebecca, Ireland, Jane orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5117-5930, Ireland, Carol Ann orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7310-2903 and Thornton, Abigail orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6619-2864 (2023) The impact of institutional child abuse: Views of professionals. Journal of forensic practice . ISSN 2050-8794

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Background: Institutional abuse is known to results in several negative impacts, although research into this area is limited with a need to better understand what may protect or exacerbate impacts.

Objective: To build on previous literature in this area, the views of professionals working with those who report institutional abuse was sought using a Delphi method.
Participants and Setting: Professionals working with those who report institutional abuse, such as psychologists, social workers, and personal injury lawyers, were invited to engage in the Delphi study. Sixteen professionals completed the final round (with four rounds in total).
This method was used to gain professional consensus on the considered impacts of institutional child abuse and what factors influence impacts.

Results: Eight superordinate themes were developed, as follows; (1) Institutional abuse has lasting negative effects on wellbeing, functioning, and behaviour; (2) Loss of trust in others and the system is a potential outcome of institutional abuse; (3) Negative impacts on future life chances; (4) Negative impacts of institutional abuse are exacerbated by numerous factors; (5) Protective factors reduced negative impacts; (6) Psychological intervention is useful for survivors; (7) Positive and negative impacts of disclosure – the response of others as important; and (8) Keep impacts individualised.

Conclusions: The need for an individualised approach when working with those reporting institutional abuse was a salient finding.

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