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Working with a community to prevent child sexual abuse in the home

This is a report into a three-year project that sought to develop an approach to preventing child sexual abuse in a Somali community in London. This is not a report on the Somali community per se. Neither is it a report about female genital mutilation, the practice of removing part or all of the female external genitalia, which some Somali girls and women are subject to (Morison et al, 2004). Furthermore, this is not a report about an evaluation of an evidencebased intervention. The emphasis in this report is a description of what has been learned about trying to develop an approach to preventing child sexual abuse with members of a particular community. The report is principally intended for audiences who are interested in developing preventative approaches.

This report is a description of what has been learned about trying to develop an approach to preventing child sexual abuse with members of a particular community. It is important to recognise that this project did not arise out of a concern that rates of childhood sexual abuse were higher in the Somali community than in other communities. There were no statistics available on the prevalence of child sexual abuse in the Somali community. So, while the findings are particular to a Somali community in London, the learning generated about the approach taken will be of relevance to anyone seeking to engage community groups in the prevention of sexual abuse.

The NSPCC has a special interest in the field of community engagement in prevention initiatives. It has set the prevention of child sexual abuse as one of its strategic goals and is running placebased initiatives to prevent child sexual abuse (NSPCC, 2016). The place-based initiatives are run from ‘Together For Childhood Centres’ in Plymouth and Stoke. Community engagement is seen as critical to setting the objectives of the initiatives, in deciding what services should be delivered and in deciding how those services should be delivered. With the development of the centres and the engagement of community members just beginning, the publication of this report is timely. The trials, tribulations, challenges and successes of engaging a Somali community in a child sexual abuse prevention initiative make this report a ‘must read’ for anyone involved in the delivery of ‘Together For Childhood’.