“25% of all cases… of child sexual abuse in the family involve a perpetrator under age 18.”
A stark statistic and just one of many in the report published today by the Children’s Commissioner entitled: Protecting children from harm: a critical assessment of child sexual abuse in the family network in England.
This report contains the findings of the first phase of an Inquiry by the Children’s Commissioner which aims to assess the scale and nature of child sexual abuse in the family environment.
One of its conclusions is that the current disclosure-led approach, where the burden of responsibility to disclose abuse lies with the victim, is not working and indeed is failing the majority of victims.
The report concludes that despite a high commitment to tackling the issue of sexual abuse there are many barriers and concerns which prevent identification and thus the provision of support to victims.
There are 11 recommendations in the report, which will require significant input from Government, schools and statutory agencies. At times of cut backs and reduction of budgets the recommendations are likely to pose a challenge. They may also reignite the discussion about mandatory reporting.
A BBC documentary this evening will consider further the report and its implications. It is entitled: The Truth About Child Sexual Abuse.
Not just a historic problem
This report is just one of many which show what a significant and continuing issue this is; it is not just a historic problem. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is fully aware of that. It has now begun to hear from victims and survivors as part of the Truth Project with a pilot running in Liverpool. On Friday it will announce the investigations which will form the first phase of the Inquiry’s substantive work.
The Inquiry has very wide powers and its remit is equally wide. It has made clear that it has a huge range of state and non-state organisations to investigate – in reality any organisation which has had any contact with anyone under age 18 could be asked to provide evidence (documentary or witness) to the Inquiry. Preparation for participation should be underway now.
We have produced a summary to help and support you in your preparation. You can access that document in our secure client area here.
Written by Paula Jefferson, abuse claims specialist partner at BLM