The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released Rapid evidence assessment: Current best evidence in the therapeutic treatment of children with problem or harmful sexual behaviours, and children who have sexually offended that considers current best evidence about the effectiveness and content of programs and practices aimed at treating children with problem or harmful sexual behaviour and children and young people who have sexually offended. The review found there are surprisingly few rigorous high‐quality studies investigating the effectiveness of treatment programs, especially for children outside the youth justice system and those under the age of 10 years. Evidence does show promising avenues for treatment options: three high quality studies found a large, positive effect in treatment delivered using multisystemic therapy (MST) as a treatment model for children and young people aged 10-17 years who have sexually offended. Key features of MST that are particularly useful are identified, including its ecosystems orientation that emphasises contextual factors in both offending and treatment, such as allowing caregivers to mediate interventions to ensure effective reinforcement of positive behaviours, and using a range of key service providers in treatment planning and delivery. Other key features include using known effective behaviour change techniques such as cognitive behaviour therapy, and utilising individually delivered services to address specific needs rather than group-based approaches. Read the report.
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