Similarities in modi operandi of institutional and non-institutional child sexual offending: Systematic case comparisons Academic Article uri icon


  • Little is known about the extent to whichinstitutional child sex offending differs from non-institutional offending. Strategies to secure the compliance of child victims were systematically compared to compare the modi operandi (prior to, during and following abuse), and the type of power (intimate, aggressive, coercive) applied by child sexual offenders in institutional versus non-institutional settings. A sample of 59 of the most recent child sexual abuse cases referred for prosecution in three Australian states was manually reviewed and coded. Of these, six were cases of institutional abuse, one of which involved crossover offending. Based on complainant age and gender and patterns in offending behaviors, institutional cases were matched with cases of non-institutional abuse. Complainants of both genders ranged in age from 5 to 16 years at abuse onset. Offenders were male family members or friends, priests, an employer and one female school teacher. Results demonstrated commonalities in the modi operandi and grooming methods applied in institutional and non-institutional contexts. Implications for abuse prevention are summarized.

publication date

  • 2018