April 11, 2015

Communicating Risk

Great care must be exercised when communicating the results of a risk assessment for children

  • Information may be provided to individuals with little training or knowledge regarding children with concerning sexual behaviours.
  • Assessment reports may consequently use information from a risk assessment in a manner not intended.


Providing assessment information along with the caveats of current knowledge is important

  •  A risk assessment report must be one aspect of a comprehensive assessment must be discussed in terms of the current and future issues to be addressed.
  • Be mindful of open-ended or unexplained comments that could be misconstrued.
  • Any assessment report should never include simple “risk” statements (Curwen & Costin, 2007).

A number of recommendations and cautions in writing risk assessment reports for children and adolescents have been documented elsewhere (Curwen & Costin, 2007, Curwen & Costin, 2010, Worling & Curwen, 2000) and are relevant to reporting on the RSBP including risk assessment reports based on the RSBP should be written to assist in treatment and intervention planning and, as such, provide:

1) Specific information regarding issues that may increase risk be provided. Include a complete discussion of the RSBP factors found to be concerning along with the details of why these factors are present for a child

2) A discussion of specific circumstances that may exacerbate risk or alter the child’s current status on dynamic factors should be provided

3) Provide strategies to manage risk.

4) Provide specific as well as general recommendations

Recommendations regarding which intervention is appropriate and why

  • Certain treatments or interventions that may or may not be appropriate and why,
  • The level of service required,
  • Who and how others should be involved,
  • Whether and how specific individuals must be informed of the child’s behaviours

5) Include a discussion regarding how to implement specific recommendations that are based on the identified RSBP factors.

6) Specify any circumstances and situations that may increase risk

Should be sufficiently detailed with recommendations provided to manage a child’s risk

Where possible, details of when, why, with whom, and where the child’s risk may be increased should be provided, as well as which circumstances reduce risk


A number of caveats must also be included in the risk assessment report to ensure accurate interpretation and use:

  • Risk assessment reports based on the RSBP must include a warning regarding  the limitations of knowledge.
  • To date, empirical evidence regarding the predictive utility of any one or combination of factors on the RSBP is unknown.
  • The RSBP is an empirically-guided method to assist in assessment of factors believed important to risk.
  • Until further evaluation of the RSBP and/or specific factors on the RSBP provides evidence of predictive validity, caution must be taken to stress that the factors used to assess risk are still under investigation for predictive validity


The following statement is recommended prior to any discussion (report or verbal feedback) of a risk assessment based on the RSBP.

“Currently there are no empirically validated methods for determining the risk of continued inappropriate sexual behaviours by children under 12 years of age; however, clinical and empirical evidence is emerging with respect to a number of potential risk factors. Recommendations for treatment based on these factors can be made in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of further concerning sexual behaviours.”  (Curwen & Costin, 2007)


2) In addition, the information in the risk assessment report should be time restricted.

Recommended that the risk factors be reassessed at 6-month intervals

Any report based on the RSBP should include a statement indicating that the information is relevant for the next 6-months only or unless circumstances warrant a reassessment sooner.


3) Acknowledge that evidence regarding risk is evolving and new factors may be found to be pertinent, while some of the factors believed important to risk may no longer be valid


**reports based on the RSBP should include a cautionary note that the information provided is limited to the current available knowledge