Situational Factors of Child Sexual Abuse



Certain aspects of child sexual abuse are well studied in Russia and elsewhere. These are, in particular, risk factor studies focused on the characteristics of children who have been victims of sexual abuse as well as those who have committed sexual abuse against children. Researchers pay insufficient attention to the situational factors under the influence of which the crime became possible. These include the parameters of the physical and social environment in which the child was at the time or during the commission of abuse, the characteristics of the offender that determined his or her access to the child, and situations in which monitoring of children’s safety was insufficient. Prevention strategies should include educating and informing parents, guardians, and children about the risks of violence, creating a safe environment for children in children’s organisations, and developing organisational measures focused on policies, practices, and strategies that can reduce the vulnerability of children and adolescents and enable all adults to play an active role in their protection.

General Information

Keywords: child sexual abuse, situational factors, prevention, children, minors

Journal rubric: Legal Psychology of Childhood

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The work was funded by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project number 19-113-50431 “Factors of Child Sexual Abuse: An Analytical Review of Theoretical Models and Results of Empirical Research”. The work was carried out on the basis of the Sociological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences — a branch of the Federal Research Sociological Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Received: 20.04.2023


For citation: Eritsyan K.Y., Odinokova V.A., Rusakova M.M. Situational Factors of Child Sexual Abuse [Elektronnyi resurs]. Psikhologiya i pravo = Psychology and Law, 2023. Vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 44–55. DOI: 10.17759/psylaw.2023130304. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Medvedeva A. S. Dozortseva E.G. Kharakteristiki onlain-gruminga kak vida seksual’noi ekspluatatsii nesovershennoletnikh (po rezul’tatam analiza perepisok vzroslykh i detei v seti Internet) [Features of online grooming as a form of sexual exploitation of minors (based on the analysis of communication between adults and children in the Internet)] [Elektronnyi resurs]. Psikhologiya i parvo = Psychology and Law, 2019. Vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 161–173. doi:10.17759/psylaw.2019090412 (In Russ.).
  2. Parshin N.M. Preduprezhdenie seksual’nykh prestuplenii, sovershaemykh v otnoshenii nesovershennoletnikh: Diss. kand. yurid. nauk. Saratov, 2018. 210 p. (In Russ.).
  3. Rusakova M.M., Odinokova V.A. (eds.). Seksual’noe nasilie i ekspluatatsiya detei: vyyavlenie, okazanie pomoshchi i profilaktika: Nauchno-metodicheskoe posobie. Saint Petersburg: Skifiya-Print, 2020. 296 p. (In Russ.).
  4. Assink M., van der Put C.E., Meeuwsen M.W., de Jong N M., Oort F.J., Stams G.J.J., Hoeve M. Risk factors for child sexual abuse victimization: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 2019. Vol. 145, no. 5, pp. 459–489. doi:10.1037/bul0000188
  5. Cornish D.B., Clarke R.V.G. The reasoning criminal: Rational choice perspectives on offending. New York: Springer-Verlag Press, 1986.
  6. Bjørnseth I., Szabo A. Sexual violence against children in sports and exercise: a systematic literature review. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 2018. Vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 365–385. doi:10.1080/10538712.2018.1477222
  7. Calkins C., Fargo J., Jeglic E., Terry K. Blessed be the children: A case—control study of sexual abusers in the catholic church. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 2015. Vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 580–594. doi:10.1002/bsl.2193
  8. Cant R.L., O’Donnell M., Sims S., Harries M. Overcrowded housing: One of a constellation of vulnerabilities for child sexual abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2019. Vol. 93, pp. 239–248. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.05.010
  9. Chopin J., Beauregard E. Scripting extrafamilial child sexual abuse: a latent class analysis of the entire crime-commission process. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2020. Vol. 106. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2020.104521
  10. Chopin J., Caneppele S. Geocoding child sexual abuse: An explorative analysis on journey to crime and to victimization from French police data. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2019. Vol. 91, pp. 116–130. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.03.001
  11. Cook A. Reynald D.M., Leclerc B., Wortley R. Learning about situational crime prevention from offenders: Using a script framework to compare the commission of completed and disrupted sexual offenses. Criminal Justice Review, 2019. Vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 431–451. doi:10.1177/073401681881
  12. Erooga M., Kaufman K., Zatkin J.G. Powerful perpetrators, hidden in plain sight: an international analysis of organisational child sexual abuse cases. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 2020. Vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 62–90. doi:10.1080/13552600.2019.1645897
  13. Felson R.B. Opportunity and the sexual abuse of adolescents. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2021. Vol. 122. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2021.105363
  14. Felson M., Cohen L.E. Human Ecology and Crime: A Routine Activity Approach. Human Ecology, 1980. Vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 389–406. doi:10.1007/BF01561001
  15. Finkelhor D. Child sexual abuse: New theory and research. New York, NY: The Free Press,1984. 304 p.
  16. Franchino-Olsen H. Vulnerabilities relevant for commercial sexual exploitation of children/domestic minor sex trafficking: A systematic review of risk factors. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 2021. Vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 99–111. doi:10.1177/1524838018821956
  17. Kidman R., Palermo T. The relationship between parental presence and child sexual violence: Evidence from thirteen countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2016. Vol. 51, pp. 172–180. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.10.018
  18. McMahan A., Roche K., Dreyhaupt R., Seto M.C., Rahm C. Changes in sexual thoughts and behaviors in a clinical sample of child sexual abuse material users under the COVID-19 pandemic. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 2023. doi:10.1080/14681994.2023.2215710
  19. McKillop N., Reynald D.M., Rayment-McHugh S. (Re)Conceptualizing the role of guardianship in preventing child sexual abuse in the home. Crime Prevention and Community Safety, 2021. Vol. 23, no. 2. doi:10.1057/s41300-020-00105-7
  20. Kloess J.A., Hamilton-Giachritsis C.E., Beech A.R. Offense processes of online sexual grooming and abuse of children via internet communication platforms. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 2019. Vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 73–96. doi:10.1177/1079063217720927
  21. Leclerc B., Chiu Y.-N., Cale J. Sexual Violence and Abuse Against Children: A First Review Through the Lens of Environmental Criminology. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 2014. Vol. 60, no. 7, pp. 743–765. doi:10.1177/0306624x14564319
  22. Leclerc B., Feakes J., Cale J. Child sexual abuse in youth-oriented organisations: Tapping into situational crime prevention from the offender’s perspective. Crime Science, 2015. Vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 28. doi:10.1186/s40163-015-0044-3
  23. Leclerc B., Reynald D., Wortley R., Cook A., Cale J. An examination of noncompleted sexual offences, offenders’ perceptions of risks and difficulties and related situational factors. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 2022. Vol. 59, no. 6, pp. 791–819. doi:10.1177/00224278221085244
  24. Leclerc B., Smallbone S., Wortley R. Prevention nearby: The influence of the presence of a potential guardian on the severity of child sexual abuse. Sexual Abuse A Journal of Research and Treatment, 2015. Vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 189–204. doi:10.1177/1079063213504594
  25. Palmer D., Feldman V. Toward a more comprehensive analysis of the role of organizational culture in child sexual abuse in institutional contexts. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2017. Vol. 74, pp. 23–34. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.08.004
  26. Parkinson P.N., Oates R.K., Jayakody A.A. Child sexual abuse in the Anglican Church of Australia. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 2012. Vol. 21, no. 5, pp. 553–570. doi:10.1080/10538712.2012.689424
  27. Paquette S., Brouillette-Alarie S., Seto M.C. Pornography use, offense-supportive cognitions, atypical sexual interests, and sexual offending against children. The Journal of Sex Research, 2022. Vol. 59, no. 6, pp. 792–804. doi:10.1080/00224499.2021.2023450
  28. Rashid F., Barron I. Jehovah’s witness’s response to child sexual abuse: a critique of organisational behaviour and management policies (1989—2020). Journal of Sexual Aggression, 2023. Vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 118–139. doi:10.1080/13552600.2021.2018513
  29. Steel C.M., Newman E., O’Rourke S., Quayle E. Lawless space theory for online child sexual exploitation material offending. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 2022. Vol. 68, pp. 101809. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2022.101809
  30. Wortley R. A classification of techniques for controlling situational precipitators of crime. Security Journal, 2001. Vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 63–82. doi:10.1057/

Information About the Authors

Ksenia Y. Eritsyan, PhD in Psychology, Researcher at Psychology Institute, Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia, St.Petersburg, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Veronika A. Odinokova, PhD in Sociology, Senior Research Fellow, Laboratory of Sociology in Education and Science, Saint-Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Area Studies, HSE University, St.Petersburg, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Maia M. Rusakova, PhD in Sociology, Associate Professor, Department of Applied and Branch Sociology, Faculty of Sociology, St. Petersburg University, St.Petersburg, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 317
Previous month: 31
Current month: 12


Total: 114
Previous month: 5
Current month: 4