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4 October 2010
www.parentsprotect.co.uk is a child sexual abuse awareness website for parents and guardians to help them understand some of the issues around sexual abuse. It is designed to increase their knowledge and allow them to discover the practical steps that they can take to protect their children.
It holds a host of information and advice as well as a 30-minute learning programme that users can work through at their own pace. The site covers issues including: what sexual abuse is; who abuses children and why; offending behaviour; signs to look out for in children and adults; how to put in place a family safety plan to protect children; and where to go for help and advice.
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation and Stop it Now! have been working with the Home Office as part of the police disclosure scheme, which started off as a pilot in four police services and is now being rolled out nationally.
During the pilot, we simultaneously trialled two child sexual abuse public education programmes in Surrey and Birmingham. As a result of these, we were asked to extend the programmes so that they are widely available across the country.
We have created the website and accompanying learning programme for the public, and also a public education toolkit for police services so that they can conduct their own awareness seminars in their communities.
The scheme is a formal process which allows parents and carers, or any adult for that matter, to go to the police and ask them to do checks on a named person who has access to their children. So, for example, it could be a Grandmother whose daughter has a new boyfriend who is moving into the house. If the Grandmother has concerns about said boyfriend having access to her daughter's children, she could go to the police and register her concern. The police would then run some checks and in cases where they think it is necessary to safeguard the children, they will provide information to the person best suited to safeguard those children.
The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme will be live across the country in every police service from March 2011.
While it is important that parents and guardians go to the police if they have a concern, it is equally important that they have sound information about child sexual abuse and the measures they can take to protect their children. There are practical steps they can take and this new resource will help them do that.
Yes there is. I think it is very difficult for someone who has concerns about child sexual abuse to know where to go and who to talk to. It is a very difficult subject to think about and if you do have concerns it can be very hard to go into a police station or perhaps call children's services. This is why the website is important. It is an easily accessible resource which can help people in making a decision.
Alongside this we also have the Stop it Now! helpline which features on the website. So if people look on the site and get some information, but they want to talk to somebody about their concerns, they can call the confidential free phone helpline on 0808 1000 900 and speak to a trained advisor.
The website is government backed – on the home page you will see that it is supported by the Home Office. Regarding whether enough is being done, I think there is always more that can be done.
We need to start treating child sexual abuse as a public health issue and work to prevent abuse from occurring in the first place.
At the moment, after an offence has been committed we arrest the perpetrator, try to treat them and prevent it happening again. For the victim, we focus on helping them overcome it. But what if we could prevent it from happening in the first place? What if all adults had the information and knowledge they need to protect children, such as what signs to look out for in adults around them, how to teach children about appropriate behaviour and boundaries, and where they can go for help? If all adults had this information and saw it as their responsibility to protect children, the number of incidents could be reduced.
Treating child sexual abuse as a public health issue would be a major step in the right direction.