Sibling Sexual Abuse Mapping Tool: Pilot Project

Project lead: Dr Sophie King-Hill

A black and white image of a child's sad faceSibling sexual abuse (SSA) appears to be up to three times as common and every bit as harmful to the child as child sexual abuse by a parent (Krienert and Walsh 2011, Stroebel, O'Keefe et al. 2013).

Despite this, professional and public awareness of the issue lags behind that of other forms of sexual abuse. In 2021, as part of the National Project on Sibling Sexual Abuse, the research team at the University of Birmingham worked alongside the University of West England and Purple Leaf (the preventative wing of West Mercia Rape and Sexual Abuse centre) to elicit insight into the current support available to children and families impacted by SSA. Across this research, alongside and the work of Yates and Allardyce (2021) for Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse it was found that:

  • For many practitioners, SSA presented a significant point of professional anxiety. This was largely due to a lack of specific training and information.
  • SSA must be considered within the context of the whole family, not just the individual child who has harmed or been harmed.
  • Support available to children and families affected by SSA was found to be sporadic across the country, and professional responses were varied, leaving some families without the services they needed.
  • Specific consideration of relevant services available within the locality is needed to ensure effective intervention
  • A reflexive approach to professional responses is required due to the complex and sensitive nature of SSA.

Building on these findings,  this follow-on project developed a professional mapping resource for frontline social workers to bolster practitioner confidence and planning, and in turn the quality of support available to children and families affected by SSA. 

Research objectives

The aim of this study is to use existing research to refine and then pilot the prototype tool developed in the sibling sexual abuse project in collaboration with professionals and end users in the field.


  1. Amalgamate pre-existing research from the whole of the SSA study and the Centre of Expertise into a resource to assist frontline social workers supporting children and families impacted by Sibling Sexual Abuse.
  2. Carry out a three month pilot of this resource with eight frontline social work teams across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  3. Assess and evaluate the tool post pilot, make short term and long term recommendations for the use of the assessment tool.

Research outputs and impact

Findings from this project are expected to be presented at the NOTA conference 2023 and in forthcoming publications. 

Research team

Partner organisations and sponsors