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BASW: OCC report - Deeds not Words needed to tackle CSA

As a report from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner details up to 85% of cases of child abuse go unreported, BASW says it’s time to ‘turn over the stone’ and take a proactive approach to safeguarding children.

The report, entitled Protecting children from harm: A critical assessment of child sexual abuse in the family network in England and priorities for action, says the majority of child sexual abuse takes place within the family or its trusted circle. It estimates only one in eight children who are sexually abused are identified by professionals.

Commenting on the findings, BASW professional officer Nushra Mansuri said: “This is an excellent report but sadly, we are not hearing anything new – child protection professionals have known for decades that we are only really scratching the surface when trying to support children who are being sexually abused.

“Many abused children remain under the radar and therefore only a minority receive help from professionals. All complaints of child abuse must be fully investigated, without prioritising one type of abuse over another.

“The report’s recommendations must be acted upon and properly resourced with skilled staff. BASW supports genuine partnership working between all relevant agencies including social work, health, education and police. That said, social workers do need to take a more prominent role in Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) interviews and not be side lined by police.

“MASH (Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub) teams are good but do not see cases through to conclusion addressing every aspect, including the child’s long term needs. There is a real lack of therapeutic services for children once criminal proceedings are over and if the statutory Child Abuse Inquiry tells us anything, it is the lifelong legacy survivors are left with.

“This has to be about deeds, not words. Unless there is a serious commitment by Government to address this properly then things will remain the same. It’s no use blaming services for not doing more if they have a remit that only really allows them to react to those children who are brought to their attention.

“A proactive approach rather than ‘firefighting’ would have a very different impact but it may suit some to maintain the status quo rather than turn over the stone and reveal the true extent of children's suffering.”