Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week – More Must Be Done
While the start of February may have passed many of us by, the beginning of an important week should have carried much greater attention. The 1st of February 2016 marked the start of Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week in the UK. Seven days that are dedicated to improving society’s understanding of the many cases of sexual violence that occur on a daily basis.
This week, in particular, was all the timelier as news from a Barnardo’s report emerged indicating that sexually abused children were coming forward in greater numbers to seek help. Welcome news this may be, yet there is an underlying current of futility that cannot be ignored.
Just one week earlier, the leading children’s charity in the fight against child abuse, the NSPCC, released a report that paints a damning picture of the support available to these child sufferers. In its emphatic indictment, the NSPCC called the situation a “national scandal”, as victims across the UK are struggling to get help and face long waiting lists due to government cuts.
If children are abused and seek help, it should be given to them. More needs to be done to aid this desperate situation, now. It cannot be the case that in the ninth richest country on Earth, children are left to face the mental and physical trauma of child sexual abuse all alone. The situation for some of these children is futile, leading to many to consider suicide or left with significant mental health problems. This must change.
The fault does not lie entirely with the government and public services, however. Child sexual abuse takes many forms, and abuse online must not be overlooked. Our report shows that three in four (76%) police say that they have worked on cases involving child sexual abuse material on work computers within the private sector, compared to over half (58%) of cases in the public sector. While eight in 10 (81%) police say that the quantity of these images and videos that show child sexual abuse material has increased over the last year.
This indicates a growing problem for the private sector. That’s why organisations and businesses must invest in technical solutions that can track and identify employees that access this material at work. Similarly, hotels and hostels, any organisation that provides shared access to the internet, must start using technology that blocks users from accessing child sexual abuse material. The effort to tackle online crime must be as strong as the work on the ground.
This illustrates the need for a complete effort from all aspects of society. With greater awareness of these issues and greater investment in support networks from charities, businesses, non-profit and state-funded services, more children can be helped, and given another shot at a happy life.