The Lived Experience of Families With Children Who Have Sexually Offended in Canada
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Families with children who have sexually offended are often left to endure an issue that is heavily stigmatized among society. Research on the impact faced by families with children who have sexually offended is significantly limited. Overall, children who sexually offend are a heterogeneous population (Falligant et al., 2017; Fox & DeLisi, 2018). Based on the epidemiology of child sexual abuse, child sexual abuse of younger children is described as rather common, non-enduring, and often driven by factors that can be addressed by prevention efforts (Letourneau et al., 2017). Despite the noted heterogeneity within this population, the research efforts have historically been reductionist. A phenomenological method was used to answer the question: What is the lived experience of families with children who sexually offended in Canada? The findings indicated that the lived experience is distressing, it breaks and reshapes family dynamics, it evokes concerns for the child’s mental health and future, it involves navigating uncomfortable conversations, stigma, and lack of support. These findings are discussed in relation to the current literature.