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01.06.2017 | review | Ausgabe 2/2017

neuropsychiatrie 2/2017

Sexual abuse of minors within the Catholic Church and other institutions

A literature review

neuropsychiatrie > Ausgabe 2/2017
Professor Dr. med. Harald Dressing, Dieter Dölling, Dieter Hermann, Barbara Horten, Andreas Kruse, Eric Schmitt, Britta Bannenberg, Konrad Whittaker, Hans-Joachim Salize


Sexual violence against children remains a global public health problem. The health sector has an opportunity and responsibility to be part of the multisector collaboration to prevent and respond to sexual abuse of minors. The following article presents a critical analysis of hitherto published empirical studies that examine the extent and variety of sexual abuse of minors within the Catholic Church and other institutions. The analysis consists of 40 studies concerning the Catholic Church and 13 studies concerning other institutions not belonging to the Catholic Church. We report the characteristics of the offenders and the offenses. Furthermore, the devastating consequences for children abused by members of powerful institutions are discussed. Knowledge on the role of institutions in sexual abuse of minors and psychological distress following these experiences is necessary to point the way to improvements in prevention and intervention strategies. This literature review is part of a larger research project on the sexual abuse of minors in the context of the Catholic Church in Germany (MHG Study) that is conducted by an interdisciplinary team of psychologists, psychiatrists, criminologists, and sociologists and is funded by the German Bishops’ Conference.

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