This position statement by the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers was approved in July 2018.

ATSA supports establishing safe and effective institutional environments for all individuals. The following risk factors must be addressed if we are to keep children in institutions safe from the threat of sexual assault or other harm.

Lax organizational oversight and poor organizational structure that heighten risk include:

  • inadequate staffing ratios
  • inadequate food and other supplies
  • poor record-keeping
  • allowing cross-gender searches and pat-downs
  • isolating children from others outside the institution
  • not requiring at least two adults in any room with children at all times
  • not requiring line-of-sight and video monitoring of all children at all times
  • not providing an easy-to-understand and easy-to-access reporting system
  • not providing random welfare checks
  • not providing an independent advocate with the power to receive and respond to complaints
  • not separating a victim from the reported abuser’s oversight

Children particularly at risk:

  • lack language abilities
  • lack an understanding of what is happening to them
  • have developmental or physical disabilities
  • are isolated from sources of help and information
  • lack basic supplies that require them to ask for help

Abusers in institutions:

  • Operate from a position of trust or power
  • Have the ability to grant favors and provide needed supplies



Risk factors that increase the likelihood of child sexual abuse in institutional settings