Report into Child Sexual Abuse Announced

09 Jul

The Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England, Sue Berelowitz, has announced a 2-year research project into sexual abuse within the family following the publication of a report by Dr Miranda Horvath and colleagues at Middlesex University.

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Child abuse
The Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England, Sue Berelowitz, has announced a 2-year research project into sexual abuse within the family following the publication of a report by Dr Miranda Horvath and colleagues at Middlesex University.

Dr Horvath’s analysis of 57,226 research studies into child sex abuse demonstrated that there were ‘glaring omissions’ in what is known about abuse within the family, including an almost total lack of direct research into the experiences of the victims of abuse (particularly disabled children and children from ethnic minorities) and their thoughts about what would have helped to prevent the abuse and/or what support they would have wanted in place once they had been abused. The report highlights that support is currently mainly directed towards the perpetrators of abuse within families rather than to the victims of the abuse.

In announcing the project, Ms Berelowitz pointed out that some studies suggested that as many as one in 20 children experienced sexual abuse, the majority of which was perpetrated by people within the victim’s family or family circle. She further noted that there are about 43,000 children on Child Protection Plans at any one time but only about 5% of them were on a plan as a result of being at risk of sexual abuse. Ms Berelowitz commented, ‘These figures do not add up. We believe substantial numbers of children are falling through the net because this abuse is not being recognised.’

Ms Berelowitz further noted that little was known about the prevalence of long-term physical and psychological harm caused by sexual abuse in family environments and almost nothing is known about the economic cost this places on society.

Graeme Harrison

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