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Issue:- 8 November  2012

Parents key to uncovering sexual abuse of children says the NSPCC

OVER a third of contacts to the NSPCC about child sexual abuse are made by the child’s own parent, the charity reveals as it launches new guidance on how to protect children from sexual abuse.  Parents are key to reporting sexual abuse as the signs are usually less obvious than physical abuse or neglect, where neighbours or teachers may spot the signs such as bruises or marks.  The NSPCC receives enough information to refer 75% of contacts about neglect and physical abuse to police or children’s services, but for sexual abuse this falls to less than half.

Parents may often 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% of offences actually take place in the home of either the offender or victim. Some parents are also concerned that they will not be believed, or that they may be blamed for not preventing it.

In the North West region last year (April 2012-March 2012) the NSPCC received a total of 549 contacts from people about child sexual abuse. Of these, 183 came from parents or carers with concerns.  In Merseyside the NSPCC received a total of 91 contacts from people about child sex abuse. Of these 35 contacts came from parents or carers

John Cameron, Head of the NSPCC's helpline, said:- “Whilst we have seen a surge of calls in recent weeks relating to the Jimmy Savile revelations, we shouldn’t forget that the majority of sexual abuse is committed by someone close to the child. As a parent, knowing or suspecting that your child is being sexually abused can be incredibly traumatic. It can be difficult to know how to begin to do something about it. We understand that reporting concerns is not easy, particularly when the abuser is someone that the parent knows and perhaps trusts. But to protect children, people need to act and we provide sensitive professional help and support. Even if they 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. We understand how difficult it has been for the caller, what it has meant to speak out and we will help them to help the child in the best possible way. Our new leaflet helps parents to take the difficult steps in identifying and reporting sexual abuse.”

The NSPCC’s helpline also plays a vital supportive role for adults who are seeking advice but do not wish to report a child.

Kam Thandi, a helpline team manager, said:- “Many of the contacts we receive are from people seeking advice as they may not be certain that what they have witnessed is abuse and may simply want to talk through their concerns. We welcome these calls, and understand that people need to think through some of the issues they are worried about, and when abuse is clearly happening we encourage callers to give us the detail so we can take action to support them and protect their child. Our trained counsellors can talk people through the options available to them and help them to decide what course of action to take.”

Teri contacted the NSPCC for advice on how to help her daughter recover from being sexually abused by her own father.
“I got really anxious waiting and waiting and worrying about my daughter. 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.  After speaking to the NSPCC things got better. 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.”

The NSPCC’s new guidance for parents and carers, ‘What can I do? Protecting your child from sexual abuse,’ is available now to download.

Anyone who has concerns about a child or wants advice can contact the NSPCC 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling:- 0808 800 5000, email,  or texting:- 88858 or using an online reporting form. The service is free and you don’t have to say who you are.

Introducing Sefton’s Youngest Guide Dog Owner

SOUTHPORT'S Samantha Bate Johnson has recently become the youngest guide dog owner in Sefton. Samantha has a genetic condition called Ushers Syndrome and has very limited vision and hearing, which makes getting out and about independently very challenging.

In April this year, Samantha trained with her first guide dog, Labrador cross golden retriever, Rosie. Since then, the pair have been inseparable. Rosie has fitted right into Samantha’s very busy life style, which involves boarding over night at St Vincent’s School in Liverpool two nights a week, going to various after school activities and sporting commitments and fitting into a very full family life.

Becoming a guide dog owner has been a truly life-changing experience for Samantha, who says:- “Walking out with Rosie makes me feel excited because I’m free”.

Samantha’s mum, Tracey said that she felt nervous at first, as Samantha had never been out on her own before having Rosie, but is delighted with the progress that Samantha is making. Tracey says:- “bin days used to be a nightmare along our street, with wheelie bins and boxes blocking the pavements, Samantha would not have been able to navigate her way using her long cane. Since having Rosie, I have watched them walking along the street, Rosie taking all of the obstacles in her stride and guiding Samantha around with ease, it’s just amazing”.

Guide Dogs does not have a minimum or maximum age restriction for guide dog ownership, but Samantha is the youngest guide dog owner in Sefton and amongst the youngest in the UK. Guide Dogs Liverpool Mobility Team Manager, Steve Wilson says:- “This is a fantastic achievement for someone so young and Samantha and Rosie are wonderful example of what freedom guide dog ownership can give to young people”.

If you would like to find out more about the work of Guide Dogs, or about how you could help support Guide Dogs in Sefton, please visit:-

Food Parcel needs up by 500%

A Southport based National Housing Charity have reported record numbers of families and individuals being given food parcels as the austerity cuts and questionable policies on housing begin to bite.

Green Pastures Housing and their partner Shoreline Housing only 18 months ago were providing food parcels to 60 individuals and families. Now however there are 300 registered with them in Southport alone and that number is simply set to increase further.

Peter Cunningham, CEO and co-founder of Green Pastures said:- “A combination of increased food prices, increased fuel prices, decreased benefits and lack of employment opportunities have produced this result. The way things are heading at present, the negative trend is only set to increase, creating further crisis for poorer families. Southport is not an isolated case. It is a mirror reflection of towns across the UK.

On the positive, we continue along with our 33 partners across the UK to meet almost all of the increasing needs, but would value greater consultation with food providers, manufacturers and food superstores about how they can play an even greater part, working with us in partnership to meet the needs of the marginalised and disenfranchised, in order to see them re-integrated fully into our communities.  We would also be delighted to advise church and community organisations as how best they too can meet the need within their local communities if they are not already doing so.”

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