IN the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, calls have increased by 60 per cent to the NSPCC’s helpline from adults who suffered themselves or who are worried about children being abused.
Helpline director Peter Watt said: “If one good thing has come out of the Savile case, it’s increased public awareness of how difficult it is for children to speak out and why it’s vital adults report any suspicions or concerns they have straight away. We hope this increase indicates a turning point in public confidence about taking action against child abuse.”
Over a third of contacts to the NSPCC about child sexual abuse are made by the child’s parent, the charity said as it launched new guidance on how to protect children from sexual abuse.
But parents may hesitate to reveal enough detail to allow further action to be taken because in many cases of sexual abuse the abuser will be a relative of, or well known to, the caller.
Research shows that 80 per cent of offences actually take place in the home of either the offender or victim. Some parents worry they will not be believed or blamed for not preventing it.
In Yorkshire and the Humber last year (April 2012-March 2012) the NSPCC received a total of 397 contacts from people about child sexual abuse. Of these, 130 came from parents or carers with concerns. In South Yorkshire the NSPCC received a total of 84 contacts from people about child sexual abuse and 29 contacts came from parents or carers.
Helpline head John Cameron said: “As a parent, knowing or suspecting that your child is being sexually abused can be incredibly traumatic.
“Even if parents feel they have dealt with the situation themselves and their child is safe, other children may still be at risk from the abuser.
“When parents or others report abuse, whether it’s the NSPCC, children’s services or the police, professionals will work with them to protect the child, help them overcome the abuse and bring the abuser to justice.”
Teri contacted the NSPCC for advice on how to help her daughter recover from being sexually abused by her father.
“Things seemed to be moving very slowly so I called the NSPCC to see if there was anything else I could do. I had already stopped the contact between my daughter and her father before she told me about the abuse. I was at the end of my tether because I really didn’t know what to do or how to help my daughter. She’s only five.
“When I called and talked it through with the helpline counsellor, he pointed out that I shouldn’t blame myself for what happened and that it wasn’t my fault. He showed me there was something I could do now by trying to be there for my daughter. He gave me ideas on how to support her and where to go for help and who to speak to.
“Now I’m more aware that there are people out there who are willing to help you and you really should not be frightened to ask for help because you’re not going to be judged.”
NSPCC guidance for parents and carers, ‘What can I do? Protecting your child from sexual abuse,’ is available to download at www.nspcc.org.uk