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Dr Andrea Darling

Honorary Fellow

MA (Hons), MSc, PhD, PCGE

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Honorary Fellow in the Department of Sociology  


I completed my PhD in the Department of Sociology at Durham University in 2018 and am now a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department working with Professor Simon Hackett researching children and young people with harmful sexual behaviour. 

My doctoral research explored females who sexually abuse children in organisational contexts; how and why this occurs, the results and consequences (with regard to criminal justice, child protection and employment regulation systems) and the impacts on victims. This specific type of abuse appears generally unrecognised and under-reported and I hope that my research can raise awareness of the reality of female perpetrated child sexual abuse and educate those involved in employing women in positions of trust as well as other professionals, parents and carers to improve responses and outcomes for victims. My interest in this particular field of research arose as a result of my professional career in child and vulnerable adult safeguarding.

In addition to my interest in female perpetrators of sexual abuse, my particular area of research interest concerns child sexual abuse in organisations and institutions and I have conducted research in this field over the last several years, building on my previous professional practice. I am keen to examine how and why child sexual abuse is able to occur in institutions and the situational factors that can facilitate or inhibit it. By understanding the context in which such abuse occurs we can seek to develop appropriate prevention measures in contemporary institutions.

I am a member of the Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA) here at Durham. Previously, I undertook a MSc in Criminology at Teesside University and worked in child and vulnerable adult safeguarding for more than 12 years prior to that. I am also a Trustee of the Darlington and County Durham Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre.

Research interests

  • • Institutional child sexual abuse
  • • Female perpetrators of sexual abuse
  • • Prevention of child sexual abuse
  • • Child and vulnerable adult safeguarding
  • • Situational Crime Prevention
  • • Children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour


Chapter in book

  • Darling, A.J, & Christensen, L.S, (2020). Female child sex offenders. In Child Sexual Abuse: Forensic Issues in Evidence, Impact and Management. Bryce, I., & Petherick, W., Academic Press, Elsevier. 119-134.

Doctoral Thesis

  • Darling, A.J (2018). Understanding Female-Perpetrated Child Sexual Abuse in Organisational Contexts. PhD.

Journal Article


  • Darling, A.J.,, Pope, L.,, Mooney, J.,, King, S., & Ablett, G., (2020). Truth Project Thematic Report: Child sexual abuse in sports. Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, London.
  • Darling, A.J.,, Mooney, B.,, King, S.,, Hurcombe, R.,, Soares, C.,, Ablett, G., & Braehler, V., (2020). Truth Project Thematic Report: Child sexual abuse in custodial institutions. Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, London.
  • Hurcombe, R., Darling, A., Mooney, B., Ablett, G., Soares, C. King, S. & Braehler, V., (2019). Truth Project Thematic Report: Child sexual abuse in the context of religious institutions. Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, London.