Transformative Justice Approach to Child Sexual Abuse



Date of Publication
March, 2018

For many survivors, coming forward and accessing resources also includes the pursuit of justice. However, personal feelings of justice do not always align with the traditional models of punishment-based responses that are seen as the only pathway to justice. In cases of child sexual abuse these models of justice can be even trickier to navigate due to the complicated contexts and relationships involved.

For these reasons, the framework of Transformative Justice can be helpful in responding to and ultimately preventing child sexual abuse.

generationFIVE’s Framework

generationFIVE works to interrupt and mend the intergenerational impact of child sexual abuse on individuals, families, and communities.

According to generationFIVE, Transformative Justice is:

“an approach that seeks healing, justice, and accountability for child sexual abuse, while also transforming the ongoing social conditions that allowed the abuse to occur. It is rooted in an understanding of trauma and resilience, as well as an understanding of how oppression and systemic injustice both create and encourage child sexual abuse.”

Guiding Principles


Approaches to justice that seek both community-defined justice for the abuse as well as work to challenge systemic violence and build a world free of child sexual abuse.

Shifting Power

Approaches that examine imbalances in power — at every level: individually, in families and communities, or society — and reallocate it to work towards equity. There are complicated power dynamics that exist for children and adults; there is collective responsibility of the community to intervene and prevent CSA, and also must work towards a culture in which voices of children are believed and honored.


Approaches that resist abusive power and promote liberation on all levels: individuals are free from current and future violence and exploitation; communities challenge violence; and societal systems are built on equitable power, accountability, and strong alliances.


Approaches that are compassionate and complex and prioritize the on-going and human-centered practices of responsibility for actions. These seek forms of justice not accomplished through criminal-legal system; including community sanctions and agreements. This applies to individuals who commit harm as well as bystanders who contribute to the social practices that condone violence.

Collective Action

Approaches that amplify the efforts of individuals by building relationships with others; reducing isolation associated with CSA. These collective voices and alliances can become a powerful movement that makes it tougher for oppression and violence, and specifically CSA, to thrive.

Cultural Responsiveness

Approaches that honor and draw on historical resilience and resistance of the community, while also challenging cultural norms that support violence and oppression. Shifting cultural traditions can be liberating, but may be met with resistance; it’s key that members of the community do this work internally.


Approaches that strive for long-lasting responses to violence as well as promote well-being and the endurance of the community to participate in action. For organizations, this requires we be conscious and transparent about the support we can offer and the limitations of what we can provide.


Approaches that build skills for individuals and the community to shift from reactions based in survival to those based in holistic connection. Healing from and preventing child sexual abuse requires cultivating mind, body, emotional, spiritual, and relationship resilience.

More About the Handbook

In addition to the section on transformative approaches to justice, the handbook is also addresses many aspect of CSA:

  • Definitions, prevalence, cultural dimensions, and impacts of abuse.
  • Information for and about those involved and impacted, such as families, bystanders, and offenders; as well as trauma responses of child survivors.
  • Oppression and root causes, such as adultism, white supremacy, and economic exploitation.
  • Examination of historical approaches such as criminalization and sex offender management.
  • Promoting healing by interrupting abuse and supporting survivors who come forward.
  • Offender and community accountability.
  • Transformation of community conditions that support violence.