IICSA report concludes that child sexual abuse has been found in most major UK religions
Nikita McNeill was Junior Counsel to the Inquiry in the investigation into Child Protection in Religious Organisations and Settings which examined evidence from 38 religious groups, including sects from Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
The Inquiry heard evidence of shocking failings across a number of religious organisations. The report concluded that the figures provided to the Inquiry were unlikely to truly reflect the prevalence of child sexual abuse in those organisations. There are organisational and cultural barriers to reporting child sexual abuse within religious organisations and settings are numerous, varied and difficult to overcome. These include victim-blaming, an absence of discussion around sex and sexuality, and discouraging external reporting, thus prioritising the organisation’s reputation above the needs of victims of sexual abuse.
The Inquiry emphasised that comprehensive child protection policies and procedures are essential to ensuring that children are protected against sexual abuse. Whilst the Inquiry found that some organisations do have effective policies implemented, in some settings not even basic child protection procedures are in place, despite serving large congregations.