Making Noise: children’s voices for positive change after sexual abuse, commissioned by the Children’s Commissioner for England and published on 20 April 2017, reveals significant barriers stopping children accessing help after experiencing child sexual abuse in the family environment. These include the lack of appropriate provision; professionals and other adults continued failure to spot signs of children’s sexual abuse and a range of messages within communities and wider society that silence children from speaking out.
It just affected so many people’s lives, it’s like putting a pebble in a pond and all the ripples going out…
(Female 16 years)
There is also evidence that particular groups of children and young people – including disabled children and young people; those from some minority ethnic communities; boys and young men and care experienced children and young people – are likely to face additional barriers to identification or disclosure, and accessing services.
The research responded to a gap in evidence from the perspectives of children and young people affected by child sexual abuse (CSA) in the family environment. Using innovative creative methods, designed in partnership with NSPCC practitioners, researchers interviewed 53 children aged between 5 and 19 across England who were receiving support for experiences of child sexual abuse in their family. This was supplemented with focus groups and a survey of wider groups of children. The findings provide an insight into the lives of children affected by CSA in the family environment and highlight how experiences of abuse touch every aspect of children’s lives including families, schooling, friendships and health - demonstrating that no one aspect of help-seeking and support can be considered in isolation.
You might not think much of telling anyone, you might not realise how serious it is, you might be just like it’s a one-off thing. Especially if it’s your family - you still feel like you want to protect them. That’s why it’s harder. You might realise that people aren’t supposed to do it [but] I think it all just comes back to it’s still your family really.
(IV40, Female 17 years)
The International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking
University of Bedfordshire