A dearth in research pertaining to the secondary victimisation of child victims in the criminal justice system (CJS) exists. The study set out to conduct a criminological investigation into the prevalence and nature of secondary victimisation of child victims, identifying whether current policies and legislation are enforced in practice, and considering and describing measures which should be taken to reduce the occurrence of secondary victimisation of child victims in the CJS. In order to achieve this aim, a qualitative research approach was applied and Piquero and Hickman’s extended control balance theory guided the study.
Eleven semi-structured interviews were conducted with role-players who have at least two years’ experience working with child victims in the CJS. These role-players consisted of one social worker in private practice and social workers from the Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children. By utilising thematic analysis, distinct themes and sub-themes were identified.
The results indicated that child victims invariably encounter secondary victimisation whilst proceeding through the CJS. This victimisation was reiterated to be related to various criminal justice professionals who deal with child victims without the sufficient training and knowledge needed. The effect of secondary victimisation was proven to be substantial on child victims and showed to often result in withdrawal, delinquent behaviours as well as suicidal tendencies. The majority of the participants affirmed that the current provisions, although powerful in theory, are not being enforced in practice and expressed the dire need for training to be provided to all professionals who engage with child victims.