Campaign to raise awareness of child abuse

Posted on: 24 March 2017

Figures from the NSPCC state that 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused, but the charity says the numbers are the tip of the iceberg.

In a separate report, the Children’s Commissioner for England says that just 1 in 8 victims of child sexual abuse come to the attention of statutory services, such as the police, councils and the health service.

Devon’s agencies want to ensure that children are effectively safeguarded, and Devon County Council is supporting a national campaign aiming to raise public awareness of the wider issue of child abuse,  with the message ‘If you think it, report it.’

The Department for Education, which is running the campaign, says that too few people act on their suspicions because they’re worried about being wrong.

They fear that they’ve misread the signs and possibly misunderstood a situation, and that their concerns could be unfounded.

They’re also worried about repercussions should their reporting of a situation becomes publicly known.

But the advice to everyone is that you don’t need to be absolutely certain of what you’ve seen or heard to seek advice or help. You can speak to any professional you come into contact with, such as a teacher, GP or Health Visitor, for advice.

Mark Gurrey, Chair of Devon’s multi-agency Safeguarding Children’s Board, said:

“Children can only be effectively safeguarded when people work together – that means all the key agencies such as Children’s Social Care, the Police, Health, schools but also includes parents, carers, family members and neighbours. Everyone has a part to play – the most important thing is that we work together to stop harm to children, to prevent it happening in the first place and offer support and safety to children who have been harmed or who are at risk.”

According to Government figures, 400,000 children in England last year were supported because someone noticed that they needed help.

The advice is, if you see signs of abuse or neglect, to report it.

Those signs might include changes in:

Appearance – such as frequent unexplained injuries, consistently poor hygiene, matted hair, unexplained gifts, parents or carers who appear under the influence of drink or drugs

Behaviour – such as demanding or aggressive behaviour, frequent lateness or absence from school, avoiding their own family, misusing drugs or alcohol, or being constantly tired.

Communication – such as sexual or aggressive language, self-harming, becoming secretive and reluctant to share information or being overly obedient.

The advice to anyone in Devon who may have suspicions of child abuse or neglect is to contact Devon’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 0345 155 1071 and staff will offer support to determine the right response. Alternatively and give as much information as you can.

For more information about how to report suspected child abuse, visit Devon County Council’s website.

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