Child sexual abuse is a significant problem in many Indigenous communities; there is also evidence of chronic under-reporting of this crime. This study aimed to compare reporting rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous cases of child sexual abuse across two Australian jurisdictions. Datasets comprising child sexual abuse reports from the Police Information Management Systems of the two jurisdictions were used to calculate reporting rates, and to compare case characteristics and case progression. Results indicated that the reporting rate for child sexual abuse of Indigenous children was between two and four times that of non-Indigenous children. In the Indigenous cases, the second jurisdiction had lower reporting rates than the first jurisdiction. Further analysis of the Indigenous cases only found that cases in the second jurisdiction were more severe, more likely to have a forensic interview, and more likely for the suspect to be charged, than in the first jurisdiction. However, there were no significant differences in conviction rates between the two jurisdictions. Differences observed in severity and case progression suggest that the lower reporting rates observed in the second jurisdiction may be due to comparatively high levels of under-reporting, rather than lower actual levels of child sexual abuse. In conclusion, reporting rates of child sexual abuse can be better understood when further information, such as case characteristics and case progression rates, is available.
- Child sexual abuse
- Criminal justice system