Teachers who sexually abuse their students
: A systematic review

  • Derry Canning

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Teachers who sexually abuse their students are in a unique position of power and trust, which they may use to manipulate their victims, officials, and parents. Statistics and conclusions about teachers who abuse varies from country to country, and so a review was appropriate to collate what research had already concluded in this area. Therefore, a systematic review was conducted of peer-reviewed research since 2003, that looked at child abuse committed by teachers within formal educational settings. The review aimed to collate research surrounding teachers who abuse, explore any existing gender differences, and what needs to be done to raise awareness of this issue. Three databases were searched- PsycINFO, Scopus, and PubMED, using the same search string: (Sexual assault[Title] OR sexual abuse[Title]) AND (education[Title]) OR schools[Title]) AND (uk[pl] OR north America [pl] OR Australia [pl])). Initially, 116 unique papers were extracted. To be included in the review, papers had to meet several criteria: published after 2003, peer-reviewed (not grey literature), written in English, published in the UK, Australia, or North America, and focus on child sexual abuse committed by teachers, or the actions and attitudes surrounding this specific kind of abuse. One hundred and thirty-eight papers were retrieved in the initial searches, and after screening twelve papers met the inclusion criteria and were included in the final review.
Findings are summarised into three themes of ‘offenders and offending’, ‘victims and reporting’ and ‘professional training and outreach’. As expected, offenders were most likely to be male and victims most likely to be female. However, a significant number of victims were male, and offender were female. Teacher training was frequently found to be inadequate as trainee teachers were not confident that they understood how or when to report suspicions of child sexual abuse. However, this needs to be confirmed and addressed in the UK. Suggestions for future research are discussed and the implications for victim services and schools are explored.
Date of Award25 Aug 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorHelen Gavin (Main Supervisor) & Dara Mojtahedi (Co-Supervisor)

Cite this