Sixty people contacted the NSPCC over concerns about child abuse in the county last year – and 21 of those came from parents or carers of the child.
Over a third of contacts to the NSPCC about child sexual abuse are made by the child’s own parent, the charity revealed as it launches new guidance on how to protect children from sexual abuse.
John Cameron, Head of the NSPCC’s helpline, said: “Whilst we have seen a surge of calls in recent weeks relating to the Jimmy Savile revelations, we shouldn’t forget that the majority of sexual abuse is committed by someone close to the child. As a parent, knowing or suspecting that your child is being sexually abused can be incredibly traumatic. It can be difficult to know how to begin to do something about it. We understand that reporting concerns is not easy, particularly when the abuser is someone that the parent knows and perhaps trusts. But to protect children, people need to act and we provide sensitive professional help and support. Even if they feel they have dealt with the situation themselves and their child is safe, other children may still be at risk from the abuser.
“When parents or others report abuse, whether it’s the NSPCC, children’s services or the police, professionals will work with them to protect the child, help them overcome the abuse and bring the abuser to justice. We understand how difficult it has been for the caller, what it has meant to speak out and we will help them to help the child in the best possible way. Our new leaflet helps parents to take the difficult steps in identifying and reporting sexual abuse.”
Parents are key to reporting sexual abuse as the signs are usually less obvious than physical abuse or neglect, where neighbours or teachers may spot the signs such as bruises or marks.
The NSPCC receives enough information to refer nearly three quarters of contacts about neglect and physical abuse to police or children’s services, but for sexual abuse this falls to less than half.
Parents may often hesitate to reveal enough detail to allow further action to be taken because in many cases of sexual abuse the abuser will be a relative of, or well known to, the caller. Research shows that 80 per cent of offences actually take place in the home of either the offender or victim. Some parents are also concerned that they will not be believed, or that they may be blamed for not preventing it.
The NSPCC’s new guidance for parents and carers, ‘What can I do? Protecting your child from sexual abuse,’ is available now to download at http://www.nspcc.org.uk/help-and-advice/for-parents-and-carers/guides-for-parents/sexual-abuse/sexual-abuse_wda90715.html
Anyone who has concerns about a child or wants advice can contact the NSPCC 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling 0808 800 5000, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, texting 88858 or using an online reporting form. The service is free and you don’t have to say who you are.