Exemption committees as an alternative to legal procedure in cases of sibling sexual abuse: The approaches of Israeli CAC professionals

Noam Tarshish*, Dafna Tener

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Sibling sexual abuse (SSA) is a widespread form of intrafamilial child sexual abuse frequently regarded as play or normal sexual behavior, and therefore highly underreported. Israeli law allows Child Protection Officers (CPOs) to suspend police intervention after the disclosure of SSA, and refer the family to therapy, by applying to an “exemption committee.” Objective: This study will examine the characteristics of cases referred to the exemption committee or legal procedure and the justifications provided by CPOs to support the decisions. Participants and setting: The study was based on 40 family cases referred to the Child Advocacy Center in Jerusalem: twenty cases were referred to an exemption committee and the rest to legal procedure. Method: Qualitative document analysis conducted on the two groups of cases (N = 40). Files were then analyzed using the thematic analysis approach. Results: During the decision-making process, CPOs assess each of the cases in a broad and holistic manner, basing their decisions on various contextual factors, including the characteristics of the survivor, the perpetrator, the parents and other siblings, and the types of sexual acts involved. Conclusions: This comprehensive approach to understanding and handling the complex family story and nature of SSA underscores the need to address SSA and subsequent interventions – legal or therapeutic – not exclusively in terms of quantifiable criteria, but also in terms of a crisis involving the relationships in the entire family, past and future course of treatment, and the perceptions of family members involved.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number104088
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • CAC intervention
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Child sexual abuse interventions
  • Exemption committees
  • Mandatory reporting
  • Sibling sexual abuse


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