Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse Report Exemplifies How Essential Support Services Are

Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse Report Exemplifies How Essential Support Services Are

On Thursday 20th October, the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse released its final report highlighting the prevalence of child sexual abuse throughout England and Wales. The inquiry stated it was a 'global crisis' and put forward recommendations for a “national redress scheme” to get compensation for victims along with many others.

From the report, we welcome the recommendations, particularly those that address the identification and reporting of sexual abuse in the physical space and online.  Since January, funded by the Home Office, SWGfL, in partnership with Marie Collins Foundation, has operated the Harmful Sexual Behavour Support Service.  This has provided vital support, advice and guidance to anyone working with children in England who are managing instances of harmful sexual behaviour.  The Support Service has managed over 600 cases representing hundreds of problematic examples of harmful sexual behaviour. 

As the report identified (of children homes), “There were also failures by staff to identify and act upon clear signs that children were being sexually abused and exploited by adults or other children, and failures to respond appropriately to allegations of abuse”.  It concludes that “The ability of adults to identify children who are being sexually abused or are at risk of sexual abuse is fundamental to the institutional response”.  The resulting recommendations that “places certain individuals – ‘mandated reporters’ – under a statutory duty to report child sexual abuse” will help alongside the establishment of new “Child Protection Authorities for England and for Wales”, who’s “purpose should be to improve practice in child protection”. 

Given these conclusions, the timing of the report publication is notable, coinciding with the Home Office funding for the pilot Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service coming to an end and associated support line for professionals closing on October 28th. The inquiry's conclusions have further built on the notion that support services are essential for individuals working with children and young people and as such should not be stopped.

David Wright CEO of SWGfL said: ''The Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service was created in response to the growing concern of sexual harassment and abuse within schools. From the inquiry report, it has further highlighted just how much of a ‘crisis’ is still being seen. Our operation of service showed just how much professionals needed support. To have that service stopped will now leave many unable to effectively resolve issues of harmful sexual behaviour and effectively protect those within their care.''

Victoria Green CEO of Marie Collins Foundation said: ''This report highlights the need for the professional response to child sexual abuse to be one that does no further harm.  The practitioners on the HSBSS have been supporting professionals in their response, ensuring it is one that is supportive to children, effectively tackles the problem and encourages professional curiosity about the potential root  causes of the behaviour they are seeing. We are saddened that the opportunity to make schools a safer place for children is being reduced by the fact this much needed resource will be no longer available to professionals.''


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