Conference brings together front line professionals to tackle child sexual abuse in Cornwall

Cornwall’s front line professionals across health, education, police and social care are joining forces at a conference today to launch a new strategy to protect children and young people from child sexual abuse.

National figures estimate around 15% of girls and 5% of boys have experienced or are experiencing some form of child sexual abuse, which equates to around 10,600 children in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

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Cornwall’s Safeguarding Children Partnership – made up of all the key agencies involved in children’s services across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly - is hosting the conference to share best practice and forge an agreed approach to reduce the risks to children and young peopl

Cornwall Council’s Lead Member for children, Sally Hawken said: “Our vision is for all children and young people in Cornwall to be healthy and safe, to have the best opportunities available to achieve and improve themselves. We are working hard to close the gap between those who are doing well and those who do less well by supporting those with greater needs.

“Child sexual abuse can have enduring consequences for the survivors. For many the impact is life-long. These can include acute feelings of betrayal, mistrust, powerlessness, stigmatisation, guilt, self-loathing, and traumatic sexualisation, physical and mental health problems and difficulty in forming and maintaining healthy relationships.

“We want to raise the profile of this important work, and in particular the conference today, because it is everybody’s job to work together to prevent this; families and communities; volunteers; front line practitioners across education, early years, health, early help, police and social services. It will take vigilance, the ability to think the unthinkable and take action. Crucially it will also mean empowering children and young people to speak up about what is happening to them – and then for us to listen to them and believe them.”

John Clements, the Independent Chair of Our Safeguarding Children’s Partnership, who will be introducing the conference said: “Over the past few years there has been a growing understanding of the long lasting harm that all form of child abuse cause.  The level of harm that sexual abuse causes is enormous and there are many, many examples of lives being irreparably damaged by what has happened to innocent children.

“We have a responsibility to the children of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to have the best possible response to child sexual abuse. The introduction of this new approach is aimed at achieving precisely that. We have looked at all aspects of our response from stopping it happening in the first place through to providing the best therapy to those that we know have been abused.

“The conference is our first formal step to raise awareness and knowledge amongst professionals, children, families and the general public. There will be much more work after this.

“We are fortunate to have the support of the National Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and are grateful for it bringing its services to Cornwall to make sure the people of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have a better chance of having their voices heard.”

The Conference speakers include Dr Debra Allnock, a Senior Research Fellow at the International Centre with nearly 20 years of experience of research in the field of child protection and particular expertise in child sexual abuse. 

David Poole, from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will be talking to delegates about the Inquiry’s “Truth Project”, which will be holding sessions in locations across Cornwall in November. At the “Truth Project”, victims and survivors of child sexual abuse can share their experiences in a supportive and confidential setting and put forward recommendations for change.

Posted on 24 September 2018