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Academics and Researchers


Be a Leader in Awareness​

  • Raise awareness about sibling sexual abuse within your sphere of influence–that it is one of the most common, harmful, and preventable types of adverse childhood experiences, yet one of the least named and researched

  • Set an example in use of respectful person-first language that focuses on harmful behavior without labeling or shaming the children who caused or experienced sexual harm.

    • Children/youth who have sexually harmed others instead of juvenile sex offenders

    • Harmful sexual behavior instead of abuse

    • Sibling-caused sexual harm, or sibling sexual trauma, instead of sibling sexual abuse

    • However, when working with survivors and parents, allow them to voice their own experience in whatever words they choose.  They are the experts on their own lives.

Include & Prioritize Sibling Sexual Trauma

in Research

  • Specifically include the possibility of sexual abuse or harm by a sibling in questionnaires and other tools used to measure child sexual abuse

  • Simply adding a sibling option or check box to existing survey and study designs can bring desperately needed information and recognition

  • Include the topic of sibling sexual abuse in curriculum for social work, psychotherapy, and criminal justice

  • Advocate within your discipline or department to prioritize research to quantify, understand, and identify effective prevention and treatment for sibling-caused sexual harm  

"Interventions with families who have experienced sibling sexual abuse are under-evaluated, and there are no evidence-based approaches to date."   Peter Yates and Stuart Allardyce, Sibling Sexual Abuse: A Knowledge and Practice Overview, Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse, January 2021

5WAVES has identified these areas as priorities for research:

  • Current risk factors for children to cause sexual harm to siblings or others, including identifying and quantifying risks associated with today’s internet technology and social media 

  • Collecting widespread and thoughtful data for analysis to inform decisions about when to separate and when to reunify siblings after one has sexually harmed another

  • Population-wide surveys that include questions about sibling sexual experiences to determine both prevalence and information about how today’s youth understand and describe their experiences

  • Retrospective and longitudinal research on long-term effectiveness of interventions and treatments, for those who have survived childhood sexual harm, caused sexual harm to a child, or both

  • Research on needs of and interventions for the whole family, including parents and other children in the household

  • Descriptions of the experiences and insights of male survivors, to inform effective messaging and interventions

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