IRiK Institutional Risk Constellations of Sexual Violence in Family-related Pedagogical Contexts

In spring 2010, many incidents of sexual abuse that had happened in pedagogical institutions came to light, and ever since the issue has been a matter of political and pedagogical debate. Against this background, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) set up a research priority focusing on “sexual violence in pedagogical contexts”. The IRiK project received funding from this programme.

Project Description

The project explored patterns and logics underlying the character of relationships between pedagogues and young people in different institutional settings. IRiK focused on an investigation of how such contexts either serve to prevent sexual violence or become a risk factor. The project selected three institutions from different areas for study. The creation of a family-like atmosphere has become increasingly important in all three types of setting, i.e. all-day schools, children in care, and boarding schools.

This is evident from:

  • the expansion of all-day school models, where learning groups are expected to cope with teaching and learning demands and older and younger students working together,
  • the newly organised structure of young people living in care, where efforts are being made at providing a family-type atmosphere for the children and adolescents,
  • boarding schools where learning and growing up are interconnected in their own particular way.

Conceptualised as an ethnographical field study, the project drew on everyday situations to gain insights into social practices applied by the participating actors. The methods of assessment were participating observation, ethnographic interviews, interviews with experts and group discussions.

The following aspects were particularly interesting:

  • situations causing emotional as well as physical closeness and
  • situations where a family-type atmosphere is enacted.

Assessment was subjected to a qualitative-reconstructive perspective and it served the description of general patterns, practices and knowledge dimensions concerning the creation of family-type and intimate atmospheres in a pedagogical setting.

Cooperation Partners

University of Duisburg-Essen:

  • Prof. Dr. Fabian Kessl (Project head)
  • Meike Hartmann, M.A.
  • Nicole Koch, Dipl. Päd.
  • Delia Kubiak, B.A.
  • Katharina Steinbeck, B.A.


The project was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Project Management

Prof. Dr. Sabine Reh

Project Details

Completed Projects
Department: BBF | Research Library for the History of Education
12/2013 – 03/2016
External funding