Parents key to reporting sexual abuse of children

New guidance to protect children from sexual abuse
Published on Friday, 02 November 2012 10:51
Posted by Scott Buckler

Over a third of contacts to the NSPCC about child sexual abuse are made by the child's own parent, the charity reveals today as it launches new guidance on how to protect children from sexual abuse

Parents are key to reporting sexual abuse as the signs are usually less obvious than physical abuse or neglect, where neighbours or teachers may spot the signs such as bruises or marks.

The NSPCC receives enough information to refer nearly three quarters of contacts about neglect and physical abuse to police or children's services but for sexual abuse this falls to less than half.

Parents may often hesitate to reveal enough detail to allow further action to be taken because in many cases of sexual abuse the abuser will be a relative of, or well known to, the caller. Research shows that 80 per cent of offences actually take place in the home of either the offender or victim. Some parents are also concerned that they will not be believed, or that they may be blamed for not preventing it.

John Cameron, Head of the NSPCC's helpline, said:

"Whilst we have seen a surge of calls in recent weeks relating to the Jimmy Savile revelations, we shouldn't forget that the majority of sexual abuse is committed by someone close to the child.

"As a parent, knowing or suspecting your child is being sexually abused can be incredibly traumatic. It can be difficult to know how to begin to do something about it. We know that reporting concerns is not easy, particularly when the abuser is someone that the parent knows and perhaps trusts.

"But to protect children, people need to act and we provide sensitive professional help and support. Even if they feel they have dealt with the situation themselves and their child is safe, other children may still be at risk from the abuser.

"When parents or others report abuse, whether it';s the NSPCC, children's services or the police, professionals will work with them to protect the child, help them overcome the abuse and bring the abuser to justice. We understand how difficult it has been for the caller, what it has meant to speak out and we will help them to help the child in the best possible way. Our new leaflet helps parents to take the difficult steps in identifying and reporting sexual abuse."

Kam Thandi, a helpline team manager, said:
"Many of the contacts we receive are from people seeking advice in the first instance as they may not be certain that what they have witnessed is abuse and may simply want to talk through their concerns.

"We welcome these calls, and understand that people need to think through some of the issues they are worried about, and when abuse is clearly happening we encourage callers to give us the detail so we can take action to support them and protect the child.

"Our trained counsellors can talk people through the options available to them and help them to decide what course of action to take."

Teri contacted the NSPCC for advice on how to help her daughter recover from being sexually abused by her own father.

"I got really anxious waiting and waiting and worrying about my daughter. Things seemed to be moving very slowly so I called the NSPCC to see if there was anything else I could do. I had already stopped the contact between my daughter and her father before she told me about the abuse. I was at the end of my tether because I really didn't know what to do or how to help my daughter. She's only five.

"When I called and talked it through with the helpline counsellor, he pointed out that I shouldn't blame myself for what happened and that it wasn't my fault. He showed me there was something I could do now by trying to be there for my daughter. He gave me ideas on how to support her and where to go for help and who to speak to.

"After speaking to the NSPCC things got better. Now I'm more aware that there are people out there who are willing to help you and you really should not be frightened to ask for help because you're not going to be judged."

The NSPCC's new guidance for parents and carers, What can I do? Protecting your child from sexual abuse, is available now to download.

Anyone who has concerns about a child or wants advice can contact the NSPCC 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling 0808 800 5000, emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , texting 88858 or using an online reporting form. The service is free and you don't have to say who you are.

Source: ©NSPCC


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