Most child abuse and neglect takes place in the home – despite the prevalence of high profile child abuse cases regarding celebrities of late – warns a recent report.
Living on a railway line. Turning the tide of child abuse and exploitation in the UK and overseas is a work by The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust Professor Andrew Rowland in association with the University of Salford.
The report compares international stories to those in the UK and investigates the impact of mandatory reporting of child abuse.
It also looks at the work of children’s advocacy centres and strategies used to identify children at risk of child sexual exploitation and trafficking.
Professor Rowland said: “It is of the utmost importance that we recognise that the majority of child abuse and neglect occurs within homes, families and communities.
“We must not be distracted by a media frenzy of high-profile cases related to public figures and celebrities – disturbing though they are, they do not reflect the majority of abuse cases that occur within our communities.
“It is time for the UK to take an unequivocal stand against child abuse cases occurring in association with positions of power or responsibility and the law in the UK should be changed to introduce mandatory reporting of them.
“We need much better research to understand in more detail society’s views about child abuse.
“There needs to be a standardised educational programme delivered to all professionals working with children and families, not just a competency framework.”
The launch of the report coincides with the 25th anniversary of the signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
A quarter of a century later there are still laws, policies and procedures in the UK and internationally which fall way short of properly protecting children, Professor Rowland believes.
He said: “Professionals working with children need to advocate much more on behalf of children and empower them to participate more fully in decisions relating to the communities in which they live.
“It takes a community to protect a child. Protecting children really is everyone’s business, including yours.”
In his report the professor advocates mandatory reporting of child abuse occurring within organisations exercising care, supervision or authority over children.
He also believes better training is needed to recognise and respond to cases of potential child sexual exploitation and that there should be prohibition on all physical punishment of children.
Professor Rowland also backs the launch of a pilot children’s advocacy, promoting on behalf of children and calls for more research around child protection.
Dr John Devaney MBE is Chair of the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
He said: “While recent high profile cases, of both a recent and historical nature, have raised public awareness of the very difficult lives many children lead, the findings and conclusions in Professor Rowland’s report highlight what can be achieved through the promotion of greater inter-agency and multi-professional co-operation and working, greater support and training for professionals and a more robust evidence base to inform policy and practice.
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