Study into links between traumatic childhood experiences and sexual violence launches

Associate Professor John Rynne
Lead researcher Associate Professor John Rynne

Griffith University researchers are exploring the possible links between childhood exposure to domestic and family violence and the emergence of sexually violent behaviour in a new study.

Around 600 client files for young people between 10-17 years of age, who engaged in sexual offending in Queensland and referred to Griffith Youth Forensic Service (GYFS) or Mater Family and Youth Counselling Service (MFYCS) will be analysed for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), with a focus on family and domestic violence affecting several generations.

ACEs are potentially traumatic childhood events and environmental factors which can influence youth offending says GYFS Director and lead researcher Associate Professor John Rynne.

“This study opens possibilities for fresh insights into this type of sexual violence. We don’t know how ACEs specifically contributes to sexual violence committed by young people in Australia.”

“This is the first study to address this gap. Our depth of clinical experience and research expertise, alongside the collaboration and trust we’ve built up with our partners, makes Griffith University one of the only places in Australia where this type of project can happen.”

Announced as part of the 2020-2022 Core Grant Research Program from Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), the project received $130,865 in funding and is one of eight projects chosen to address research gaps into the impact of domestic and family violence on children and young people.

Associate Professor Rynne said his team was honoured to be working with ANROWS.

“They are a fantastic organisation and to be selected among a highly competitive field is a significant opportunity to understand more about a topic that is difficult to discuss. Our research has the potential to inform policy responses and early intervention.”

GYFS has provided specialist clinical assessment and field-based treatment services for young people across Queensland who have committed sexual offences for more than 20 years.

GYFS and MFYCS are funded by the Queensland Government Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs.

The final report will be delivered in 2022.