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Who are offenders in child protection cases?

The way that the media portray offenders involved abuse against children is not helpful. The press and television tend to focus on the most serious cases and label the offender as a predator or monster. Such reports tend to reinforce the image of abusers as adult men, who prey on children picked at random. That kind of image does not help adults to recognise that the biggest threat to children is the familiar, the normal and the ordinary.

Unfortunately, a lack of comprehensive data makes it difficult to be precise about the kind of people who abuse children, but experience shows that abusers come from all walks of life. They represent a wide cross-section of society and women as well as men can abuse children.

We know that the majority of perpetrators assault children known to them, with about 80 per cent of offences taking place in the home of either the offender or the victim.