The Children’s Commissioner for England has launched Making Noise: Children’s voices for positive change after sexual abuse about children’s experiences of seeking help and support after sexual abuse in the family environment.
The research was undertaken by the International Centre for Research in Child Exploitation – a Blagrave funded partner – and the NSPCC.
The findings highlight how experiences of abuse touch every aspect of children’s lives including families, schooling, friendships and health. They demonstrate that no one aspect of help-seeking and support can be considered in isolation. They also reveal pervasive barriers and delays to accessing professional support after the identification of abuse – with some groups of children at a particular disadvantage.
The research makes clear that challenging cultures of silence surrounding child sexual abuse in the family environment requires a society wide shift in how we view and listen to children, and reveals that listening to children, knowing when and how to ask questions and involving them in decision making is critical for their protection.
“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”. (Female 17 years)