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Campaign group wants more action in Wales to stop abuse
A campaign group's demanding the Welsh government sets up a strategy to crack down on child sex abuse.
Stop it Now! Wales says more children could be protected from sex abuse if services were more co-ordinated.
The research involved in-depth interviews with over 100 individuals across Wales who had relevant insights and perspectives to offer.
These included young people, victims of sexual abuse, adults who had sexually abused children and young people in the past, parents and carers and multi-agency professionals such as the police, social workers and education professionals.
Using the research findings, Stop! Wales has begun to populate a comprehensive framework for the prevention of child sexual abuse, outlining key activities and services that contributors identified as essential in Wales to keeping our children safe.
Some existing activities and services require development or expansion. Other activities are not currently being delivered but have been identified as crucially needed in Wales.
An All Wales Strategy on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention would aim to:
· increase public awareness of the scale, nature and consequences of child sexual abuse in Wales
· facilitate the development and implementation of a comprehensive, co-ordinated response to the sexual abuse of children, both nationally and locally, by including work with all priority target groups
· increase the long term effectiveness and impact of work currently on-going to tackle the sexual abuse of children in Wales
· address the shortage in services and resources required to achieve prevention before sexual abuse occurs
· ensure all aspect of prevention activities are evaluated in order to inform future developments
Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services said: "It is vital that all those who care for children are alert to the signs of abuse and that they know where they can seek help and advice.
"Fear and uncertainty can, so often, stop people from taking action to prevent abuse in the first instance and we need to instil people with the confidence to speak out.
"I know that raising the awareness of child sexual abuse is not easy and I value the responsive and sensitive approach Stop it Now! Wales has taken to address this issue in Wales.”
Stop it Now! Wales National Campaign Manager, Rebecca Morgan said: "The problem of sexual abuse is a hidden problem – out of 600,000 children in Wales only 225 are on the child protection register for being at risk of sexual abuse as at 31st March 2011, yet we know at least one in ten children and young people are affected by it.
"We must do more to protect our children and implementing a national strategy to maximise the effectiveness and impact of the preventative work that is going on would be a major step forward.”
Gaynor Mckeown, Locality Director for Victim Support Central England and Wales said: "Offences against children must stop. Detection of offenders is crucial but more importantly is the prevention of the abuse in the first place.
"Stop it Now! Wales ensures that both parents and professionals are better equipped to safeguard children and young people by raising awareness around potential risk, and providing a mechanism to access support. Victim Support is delighted to be working in partnership with Stop it Now! Wales, to reduce the number of child victims in the future."
During the research, one19-year-old said: "To prevent child sexual abuse, my message to adults would be to please talk more openly about it. Educate yourselves and young people about the signs of grooming behaviour.
"Take away the guilt that it could be the child or other family member’s fault. Stop adults holding back from speaking out about their concerns. To perpetrators I would say to please think about the consequences of your actions before you decide to do this to a child.
"And please listen to young people and children who have been sexually abused. Take them seriously. Hear their voices and listen.”