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It does happen here and children need YOU to ‘Speak Out’

A new campaign is being launched in Cornwall to help people recognise the signs of child sex abuse. 

The ‘Speak Out’ campaign was created by Our Safeguarding Children partnership (OSCP), which includes Cornwall Council, Devon and Cornwall Police, the Council of the Isles of Scilly and the NHS.

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The campaign aims to take the responsibility of reporting sexual abuse away from children and young people, because they may not be able to say something for a variety of reasons, and instead ask adults to spot and understand the potential signs of CSA and speak out when they think something’s wrong. Our goal is to protect children and help them begin their recovery.

Cabinet Member for Children and Well Being, Councillor Sally Hawken, said: “Child sexual abuse in the family environment is a very complex area of safeguarding and, as a society, it’s something that we can find incredibly hard to talk about.

“Within families and communities, there remains a disbelief and denial about sexual abuse, which means it is less likely to be identified and discussed.  In addition to this, children are very unlikely to tell someone that they’re being abused – particularly when the perpetrator is known to them.”

The campaign focusses around a number of key messages. They are:

  • Child sexual abuse in the family environment is a hidden crime.
  • Most children and young people who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know.
  • Knowing the signs and reporting cases of child sexual abuse is everyone’s responsibility.
  • You don’t have to be certain it’s happening - If you’re concerned a child is being abused or their safety is at risk, speak to someone.
  • The OSCP and MARU are there to help protect all vulnerable children and young people at risk of abuse.

Sally added: “When a child or young person is sexually abused, they may not understand that what’s happening is abuse, or that it’s wrong. Therefore, parents, professionals and the public must understand the signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse and know how to respond.”

 

This campaign is particularly important at a time when social distancing rules mean that more children than ever will be staying at home, sometimes in unsafe environments. With this comes the risk that the signs of sexual abuse may go even further unnoticed and so it is vital that we start to raise awareness of the signs of CSA and clarify how people can report their concerns.

Independent Chair of the Safeguarding Partnership, John Clements, added: “All of us have a responsibility to know the signs and to speak out against child sexual abuse.  You don’t have to be completely sure; anything you tell us could help us to protect a child or young person at risk from sexual abuse.

“Together, we can help to stop child sexual abuse from happening and give children and young people in Cornwall a voice.”

If you suspect something is not right, please contact the Multi Agency Referral Unit (MARU) on: 0300 123 1116 or speak to the police. If you are located on the Isles of Scilly, please telephone the Children’s Social Care Team on 01720 424483. 

You can find more information about this campaign by visiting our dedicated webpages.