risk and reporting

Service ethics: assessing risk and reporting in CSAE prevention

2PS held the first Knowledge Transfer Workshop (KTW) at UWE Bristol about the prevention of CSAE with stakeholders to discuss, among others, risk and reporting in CSAE prevention.

It brought together professionals, practitioners, academics, and policymakers from across Europe who work to prevent child sexual abuse. 2PS launched this KTW as the first of three spread across the three years of this Horizon Europe funded project. The KTW aims to create links with appropriate stakeholders and develop a stakeholder community of experts and first-line responders. The objectives are to exchange knowledge, raise awareness of prevention initiatives, and discuss best practices.

The first workshop focused around two key topics:


  • Current effectiveness of national and local policies and main findings from initial searches
  • Determining the success and efficacy of existing risk assessment tools, treatment and support programs based on their experience and knowledge.


The themes that emerged from the workshops crossed and interwove through the discussions and produced 3 main overarching themes. Specifically:


  1. Consistent communication and shared values
  2. Research and Funding
  3. Service ethics: assessing risk and reporting (results discussed in this article)




Service ethics: assessing risk and reporting 


Understanding ethics in an evolving policy, practice, and social area


Participants highlighted two challenges in the secondary prevention of CSAE. First, policymakers and governments often expressed risk aversion due to concerns about public reaction to new initiatives. Second, the rapidly evolving nature of CSAE, particularly online with AI and social media, presented ongoing difficulties. While acknowledging the policymakers’ tough position, participants urged them to be bolder. They offered their support and emphasized that the weak evidence base for secondary prevention further discouraged funding and development.



Challenges of reporting & disclosure 


The biggest challenge was reporting disclosures of child sexual abuse by service users. This involved complex issues like legal frameworks, professional guidelines, criminal justice, and client confidentiality.

The participants were divided around this topic with some feeling that reporting was essential and required, whereas others felt that it needed to be on a case-by-case level and rooted in the therapeutic relationship. In discussing this we saw that the role/job that the participant had and the country that they worked in greatly influence their opinion and decision-making around it.

All the participants agreed that the most important ethical consideration was harm reduction and preventing the sexual abuse of children but they often felt that there was a range of ways to support the service user in doing this.

Currently, there is no standardised practice across Europe on reporting and disclosure of sexual interest in children or even disclosure of risk and offending behaviour, which reinforces the need for clarity and communication around secondary prevention but also feeds into debates around the coherence of the evidence base.



Understanding risk and risk assessment


The participants discussed the challenges of understanding the risk posed by people who would access and use secondary prevention services, especially across professions and across countries.

Participants identified a lack of shared understanding about risk and risk management across professions. This creates a barrier to prevention because different organizations have different risk tolerances. They called for a clearer, unified vision of risk, including risk thresholds and when intervention or support is needed instead of punishment.

The participants stated that we needed to think outside of the box about this and that a public health framing could help with that.

The participants felt that partnership working would help all relevant organizations level up and develop parity around risk assessment, management and prevention.


To know more about the results, read and download the full report in pdf format here