The North Ayrshire Child Sexual Abuse Strategy – the first of its type to be launched in Scotland – sets out the actions North Ayrshire Child Protection Committee will take in order to prevent ALL types of child sexual abuse in the area.
We need to talk about child sexual abuse.
That’s the message from North Ayrshire Child Protection Committee as they launch their new Child Sexual Abuse Strategy.
Evidence suggests that as many as one in ten young people aged 11 to 17 in the UK could have experienced sexual abuse within the last year, and one in 20 in the same age group could have experienced it at some point in their childhood.
That means that over 900 children and young people in North Ayrshire alone are likely to have been sexually abused in the past year.
There are many types of sexual abuse and it doesn’t always involve physical contact.
It can also include things like children being exposed to or shown pornography, being tricked or forced into taking part in sexual conversations online, or being made to touch themselves or watch sexual acts.
Any child could be at risk, and it can happen anywhere – in a child’s home or someone else’s home, at clubs or events, in fact anywhere that children and young people socialise and relax and where they should feel safe.
A child or young person is never to blame if they are sexually abused, and it’s important that all children and young people know this.
It can often be hard for them to understand that what they are experiencing is sexual abuse, and even when they do know it’s wrong they are often too scared to tell anyone and may believe it’s their fault.
Without the right support at the right time, sexual abuse can lead to long term problems in terms of development and social relationships for children and young people, as well as having a negative effect on mental health.
The North Ayrshire Child Sexual Abuse Strategy – the first of its type to be launched in Scotland – sets out the actions North Ayrshire Child Protection Committee will take in order to prevent ALL types of child sexual abuse in North Ayrshire, to protect those at risk from sexual abuse, and to support those who are experiencing abuse or who have experienced it in the past, with the rights and needs of young people at the heart of the strategy.
The strategy was developed by a multi-agency group comprising of representatives from Barnardo’s, Children 1st, Police Scotland, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership and North Ayrshire Council’s education and housing services.
Dr Anne Houston OBE, chair of North Ayrshire Child Sexual Abuse Strategy Group, said: “We know children and young people struggle to find support when they are being sexually abused, often fearing that they’ll not be taken seriously or perhaps even blamed.
“As adults, we have to show them that we can and will listen to and support them.
“Therefore we have to face this difficult topic and begin to bring it into the open by discussing it in our homes, communities and workplaces.
“Only then will the children and young people needing our support feel able to share their experiences and get the support and protection they desperately need.
“If we can’t talk about it then they certainly won’t.”
To view the North Ayrshire Child Sexual Abuse Strategy, or to find out more about child protection training for members of the public and professionals, visit the NACPC website at http://childprotectionnorthayrshire.info/cpc/.
If you are worried that a child or young person is being sexually abused, or are concerned that they might be at risk of abuse, call 01294 310300 (office hours), 0800 328 7758 (evening, weekends and public holidays), or call the Police on 101. If you think that they could be in immediate danger, please call the police on 999.
Source: In Your Area, April 2021