What is The Problem?
What are tha aims of the 'Be Sure, Before' campaign?
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Advice For Parents.
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The NSPCC estimate 1 in 4 children are severely mistreated in some way during childhood.
The vast majority of abused children are hurt by someone they know, such as a parental partner, babysitter, friend or extended family member.
Figures obtained from Notts Police through the Freedom of Information Act show that in 45% of child sex abuse cases in the county, the offender was related to the victim.
The findings also show that in 42% of cases the offender was known to the victim but not related. This trend is reflected across England and Wales.
In 2011, a stranger was responsible for only 7% of sexual attacks against children in England and Wales. 70% of cases involved a relative, friend or someone else close to the child (the remainder of assaults were committed by an aquaintance or an unidentified person).
According to Home Office data, of 56 children murdered in 2011, only 6 were killed by a stranger. 64% of these children were murdered by a caregiver (biological/non-biological/step/adoptive parent) and 13% by another known person, such as a family friend/acquaintance.
Widely publicised cases where children have been killed or very seriously hurt by a partner or trusted friend in the UK include examples like that of Victoria Climbie (murdered by her great aunt/guardian, and her aunts boyfriend), Baby Peter Connelly (murdered by his mothers partner),Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman (murdered by their school caretaker who was helped by his girlfriend, Holly's class-helper at school), and very recently, Tia Sharp (allegedly murdered by her grandmothers partner, a man who had been baby-sitting Tia) and April Jones (allegedly abucted and murdered by Mark Bridger, a family friend) but there are MANY more children whose faces are not on the front page of every newspaper, but who die in similar circumstances.
Children like 2 month old Alexis Matheson, who was shaken and squeezed to death by her mothers partner in 2007. Children like Brandon Muir who was badly beaten by his mother's boyfriend for several weeks until a final brutal attack stole his life in 2008. Children like 'Girl A' (identity protected), aged 16 months, who died from a abdominal injury deliberately inflicted by her mothers boyfriend in February 2010.
Studies have shown time and again that children who live with a non-biological parent are at least 50 times more likely to suffer fatal abuse-related injuries.
Children all over the country are suffering, many at the hands of a non-biological caregiver or another trusted person, much of this suffering is preventable.
More information: The Problem.
WE MUST STAND UP FOR THESE CHILDREN. They cannot defend themselves.
The Who's Watching Your Child? Be Sure, BEFORE Campaign addresses the stranger danger myth, empowers parents to protect their children more effectively, sensitively empowers children through knowledge and voice, and suggests improvements to the child protection system intended to make it harder for predators to prey on a child through his/her family.
Action Against Abuse call on the government to address these issues by:
1) promoting awareness
2) implementing specific improvements to the child protection system and
3) funding and resourcingresearch into family dynamics in relation to child abuse.
We, The Undersigned, call on the government to:
1) Implement a public awareness campaign, possibly including leaflets, and radio/TV ad campaigns. This could include statistics about the prevalence of the problem to expose the stranger danger myth, advice for safe guarding children against this type of abuse, and signs to look for. It should stress the importance of talking/listening to children, cultivating an open and honest relationship with them, and encourage sensible vigilance. (see Be Sure Before, Advice For Parents )
2) Implement sensitive, age-appropriate educational program about issues related to child abuse as part of Personal Health Education in schools, where children are informed, encouraged and made to feel able to come forward about anything that might be bothering them at home, starting in pre-school and continuing at periodic intervals throughout the developmental stages. This should empower children with the knowledge of how they should be respected, and provide a more accessible avenue for them to seek help should they need it, particularly if the abuser is within their own family ( thus they are unlikely to have the support/courage to speak out at home). In the case of Baby Peter Connelly, his older siblings may have been able to speak out at school...if they'd felt safe, if they'd felt sure they would have been believed, if they'd known what was happening at home was wrong, if the opportunity to speak out had presented itself to them.
3) Ensure all agencies (including medical and educational services) are made aware of the importance of a parental partner in child abuse cases, and need to be legally obligated to pass any information relating to this on to other agencies involved in the child's protection. For example, if an unknown person answers the door to a social worker, or is spoken about in a video, or is said to be involved in the lives of vulnerable children (as happened MANY times in Baby Peter Connollys case) the social services (or other authority ie NHS, school etc) must pass this information onto the police, and visa versa.
4) To hold authorities/individuals accountable when they fail to pass on information or investigate suggestion of an unknown person in the lives of vulnerable children.
5) To recruit and train more high-quality social workers and reduce case loads to an acceptable level, including taking into account that working with 1 child actually involves working with an entire family. Pressure on social workers must be reduced and they must have the time to wholly investigate every threat to a vulnerable child. If they can't, who will?
6) To combat the problem of 'disguised complience'.
7) Set guidelines for a higher occurence of unannounced visits by social services.
8) Set guidelines for more thorough investigation of family circumstances at regular intervals when child abuse is suspected (for example, investigation into evidence of unknown person at family home and on social networking site profiles).
9) To implement training on deception detection for social workers, including reading body language, the psychology of deception and other subtle clues.
10)To set targets for consistency relating to social worker and child. As much as possible,children should have consistent social workers for their time as a protected child. Social workers who know the family are more equipped to gain the trust of a child, and to recognise the family dynamic and therefore changes within it that make effect potential risk factors for the child. This way a child may feel more comfortable with speaking honestly.
11) To encourage more joint social work visits in cases where so as to get a second opinion and therefore improve the chances of detecting possible deception.
12) To implement more practical/psychological support and ongoing training for social workers dealing with children with difficult/intimidating families within their own homes, so that they feel empowered to ask the difficult questions they must ask, and carry out the checks they must carry out without fear or threat.
13)To address issues of confidentiality and the lack of confidence social workers have in the safety and effectiveness of Ofsted's whistle-blowers hotline.
14) To introduce a centralised, complete register that professionals or the public can easily access for up to date information on serious case reviews. This would address both issues of transparency and accessibility of SCRs.
15) To implement Prof Munro's suggestions of publishing serious case reviews showing examples of good practice, as well as bad, and that they should focus of process, rather than assigning blame.
16) To fund and resource more research into family structure and dynamic in relation to child abuse. Child abuse committed by a parental partner or family friend is a significant problem, but the causes of it (which should allude to effective prevention) are a mystery because the research simply isn't there.The Home Office should differentiate the biological nature of parenthood in homicide statistics that are concerned with the relationship of child-victim to perpetrator. This will provide a more accurate representation of the problem and may lead to clues regarding successful intervention.
IT TAKES JUST A MOMENT TO HELP PROTECT VULNERABLE CHILDREN, BY SUPPORTING THIS CAMPAIGN.
ADD YOU VOICE TO OURS! Send a clear message to the government: we, the people, believe not enough is being done to deal with the problem of child abuse perpetrated by a known/trusted person. Public misconceptions concerning stranger danger must be addressed, parents must be made aware of the real risk of trusting a person they do not know VERY well with their children, children must be armed with age-appropriate, complete and accurate information so that they are empowered to understand potential dangers, and childrens services must be more robustly equipped to deal with this very real and potentially very dangerous problem.
Please sign this petition and send this pre-written message to YOUR MP (email/postal address included, or send with a couple of clicks by typing in your postcode and pasting the letter here).
EVERY VOICE COUNTS. EVERY INDIVIDUAL CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHEN WE UNITE!
INDIVIDUALLY WE ARE STRONG, TOGETHER WE'RE UNSTOPPABLE!
TOGETHER, WE STAND AGAINST CHILD ABUSE.
THANK YOU for your continued support <3