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News Report Page 11 of 11
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Housing Secretary confirms new support for survivors of domestic violence in the North West

COUNCILS across the North West are being given a boost to provide essential, life saving support in safe housing for survivors of domestic abuse and their children, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed. Councils across the North West will share over ₤2.1m, helping survivors access the help they need as they move towards a safe future, free from domestic abuse. The new funding will enable victims and their children to stay safe, recover from the trauma, and access safe permanent re-housing where needed. Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, said:- "Domestic abuse destroys lives and leaves victims living in fear in their own homes; the place where they should feel most safe and secure.  No victim of domestic abuse should have to struggle to get the right support, or wait months for help that they need. This new funding of ₤2.1 million will help Councils in the North West better protect victims and their children and provide essential life saving services, delivering the urgent support that they need to rebuild their lives."

Domestic abuse is a devastating crime which shatters the lives of over 2 million survivors and their families every year. This announcement follows the confirmation of a new legal duty which will create a consistent approach to accommodation based support for domestic abuse victims across England. This will help all families recover and overcome their experiences, regardless of where they live.  Many Councils are already providing tailored support to those in need, but this move will bring an end to the postcode lottery of support for those fleeing abusive relationships. In addition, the Domestic Abuse Bill being reintroduced to the House shortly will bring about the 1st ever statutory Government definition of domestic abuse to specifically include:- economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non physical abuse. The Bill will also establish a new Domestic Abuse Commissioner and prohibit the cross examination of victims by their abusers in the Family Courts. This action will help more people understand domestic abuse and ensure those that need support can access it, whilst staying safe and protected from future abuse.

Head Matter Festival of Happiness - Open Day

TO mark Brain Awareness Week The Brain Charity will throw open its doors from 10.30am to 4pm, on Wednesday, 18 March 2020 to welcome anyone affected by a neurological condition, along with the wider community, for their big:- 'Head Matters' open day. This year the Charity is especially excited to welcome international theatre ensemble:- 'Teatro Pomodoro' to Head Matters; they will be running a free comedy workshop called:- 'Clown Kills Frown.' Famous Comedian Lawrence Clarke will be performing at this year's Head Matters too. Laurence was born with cerebral palsy and uses his comedy to alter public perceptions of disabled people, so it should be a good set. More information visit:- TheBrainCharity.Org.UK.  Event location:- The Brain Charity, Norton St, Liverpool, L3 8LR.

Child sexual abuse far more widespread than people believe, says Barnardo's

PEOPLE in the North West underestimate how widespread child sexual abuse is, according to a new survey by Barnardo's, as the charity launches a campaign to highlight how vulnerable children are slipping through the cracks. 50% of respondents in the North West underestimated the prevalence of abuse while 21% weren't able to guess a figure, the survey conducted for the charity by YouGov shows. 30% of adults from the North West that responded to the poll thought that child sexual abuse; including both:- 'contact' and 'non contact' abuse; only affected 5% of children or fewer. But it is thought more than 3 times as many children are affected nationally, with research suggesting 1 in 6, 11 to 17 year olds have experienced sexual abuse at some point in their lives. Even this is believed to be a conservative estimate though, with experts believing child sexual abuse is more prevalent than research suggests. With advances in technology, abusers have increased mechanisms to access children, often in environments like gaming or social media where children's defences are down as they relax and enjoy time with their peers. The findings come to light as Barnardo's launches a new hard-hitting TV campaign aiming to raise awareness of child sexual abuse and how important it is for victims and survivors to get support. As part of the campaign, called Believe in Me, a cutting edge advert shows a girl alone in a bedroom while a CGI komodo dragon slithers up beside her, representing the abuse she has suffered and her feelings of powerlessness. Child sexual abuse often goes unseen and unreported, says Barnardo's. Rather than adults effectively protecting children, often the burden of responsibility for disclosing abuse remains with victims, meaning many young people do not disclose their experiences until they are much older. Barnardo's says boys and children under 10, as well as minority groups including BAME, LGBTQ and disabled children and young people, are even more likely to be hidden victims of sexual abuse and may be routinely being missed in safeguarding, risk assessment and prevention work. Research by the Children's Commissioner shows that professionals are not always confident in their ability to identify child sexual abuse and levels of knowledge and confidence on how to progress concerns vary. This, coupled with potential communication problems or issues of isolation or stigma can mean minority groups are more likely to be 'hidden.'

Barnardo's Chief Executive Javed Khan said:- "Child sexual abuse is a horrific crime, causing trauma that can last a lifetime. This new evidence suggests that adults under estimate how many children are at risk; and we know that even official figures just scratch the surface. Too many children across the UK are slipping through the cracks; unseen, unheard, and unsupported. Barnardo's has been tackling child sexual abuse for more than 25 years, and we know that any child from any community or background can be sexually abused, including by perpetrators who groom children online. But some groups are particularly vulnerable and face additional barriers to disclosing their abuse, meaning they are even more likely to miss out on the help they need. The Government's upcoming child sexual abuse strategy must include a focus on 'hidden' victims, including boys, children under 10, disabled and LGBTQ young people and those from BAME communities.  At Barnardo's we believe all children can recover from trauma and go on to achieve a positive future. So to help keep children safe we need better awareness and understanding of child sexual abuse, among parents, professionals, Government, and citizens so we can improve identification and make sure children access the support they need."

In the year ending March 2019, Police in England and Wales recorded 73,260 sexual offences against children. As well as offences involving physical contact, child sexual abuse also includes 'non-contact' abuse like involving children in looking at sexual images. Around a 3rd of all sexual offences recorded by the Police in England and Wales are against children, but only around 1 in 8 child sexual abuse victims come to the attention of the Police or a Local Authority . Research suggests that children with disabilities are 3 times more likely to be sexually abused than children without disabilities and previous research by Barnardo's shows that children with behaviour or conduct disorders are particularly vulnerable. They can be disadvantaged by not having the same access to sex and relationship education as their non disabled peers. Sometimes abuse can be missed because behaviour changes or delayed development may be attributed to learning disabilities. Victims of sexual abuse come from all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Fear of being stigmatised / labelled can lead to many BAME children not being identified or getting support they desperately need. They may also be referred to culturally inappropriate services that don't meet their needs. Separate research conducted by Barnardo's in 2018 found that boys and young men often miss out on the support they would receive if they were girls because professionals don't always recognise them as victims.

Child sexual abuse involves forcing or persuading a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. This includes acts that involve physical contact such as:-

Assault by penetration.

Non-penetrative acts (eg. kissing, rubbing and touching).

It also includes involving children in looking at (or making) sexual images, watching sexual acts, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, grooming a child (including via the internet), also called child sexual exploitation (CSE).

What parents can do?

The most important thing is to be interested in your child's life. Celebrate when things are going well. Respond with patience and sensitivity when they're worried or anxious. Children who know there is nothing too big and nothing too small to talk about are much more likely to speak up when things feel wrong or unsafe.

Try to talk about feelings as a regular part of your relationship. Speak to them about their safety strategies when they're out of the house; including how they can contact you in an emergency and who else they could contact. It's important to talk about how they can support their friends and what support they should expect from their friends too. It's worth talking to them about their apps and games on their devices, and exploring the safety features together.

You might have specific concerns. For older children and teens, these could be:-

Changes in behaviour and mood (especially if they're becoming more withdrawn)

Late nights out.

New friends who you haven't met or heard about before.

Any unexplained belongings they might not have bought themselves.

Their online activity.

Unexplained injuries.

STI's and pregnancy.

For younger children, you may notice comments or elements of "playtime" that are sexual in nature and wonder where they learned this from. Try to discuss these without judgement and reassure them that you're always there to talk to. When you're talking about concerns like these, make sure you've got time to talk about it. Consider the environment and both your and your child's potential stress levels when planning this.

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