10 Points About Sexual Abuse EVERY Professional Should be Aware of


I am now a fully nationally accredited Safer Recruitment trainer as last year I spent a couple of days in the Midlands being training by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, who are experts on understanding and combatting sexual abuse. The course was a real eye opener for me personally, even though I have been delivering awareness training on safeguarding for many years. I realised that there was so much we need to know as a workforce in order to maximise the protection of children from sexual abuse.

The 10 points you need to know:

  1. Sexual Abuse may not necessarily involving a high level of violence – usually victims are systematically manipulated or groomed to participate in the abuse, and the child may not be aware that what is happening is indeed sexual abuse. Sometimes the grooming process will take many years. Perpetrators of sexual abuse are characterised by their ability to control, not to lose control as is sometimes thought.
  2. Sexual abuse doesn’t just include physical acts (penetrative and non-penetrative) – it also includes acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing and non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet).
  3. Victims of sexual abuse rarely respond by ‘Fight’ or ‘Flight’ – more often the trauma response is likely to be ‘Freeze’ ‘Flop’ or even ‘Friend’ as survival mechanisms – these last responses can be misinterpreted as acquiescence.
  4. Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males – women can also commit acts of sexual abuse. Only 2 per cent of criminal convictions for sexual abuse are women, but this is very much considered an underestimate as female offenders are increasingly regarding as a ‘small but significant minority’ (Darling 2017) – some estimates as high as one in ten perpetrators.
  5. Perpetrators of sexual abuse include children and other young people and these groups comprise a major part – some one-third – of the problem of child sexual abuse.
  6. Studies for over more than 25 years have found that 16 per cent or more of adults state that they experienced sexual abuse as children (Cawson et al 2000; Itzin 2000, Radford 2011).
  7. Sexual abuse is regarded is the form of abuse that is least likely to be disclosed by the victim, and the least referred by professionals. The actual number of cases could be over 15 times higher than we know about. The inquiry ‘Protecting children from harm’ (Children’s Commissioner Nov 2015), showed that for every child known to be experiencing CSA there may be another eight who have not been identified and suggested that 400 – 450,000 children experienced sexual abuse in a 2-year period. Children’s social care were involved in just under 50,000 of these cases and the police investigated around 38,000.
  8. Sexual Abuse is the form of abuse that is least likely to secure a conviction through the courts. The ‘Protecting children from harm’ (2015) research estimated that the number of convictions from 2012-2014 was only 1.5% of the total number of children estimated to be experiencing sexual abuse.
  9. Sexual abusers often seek to work with children. Research undertaken at the Wolvercote Clinic, a residential treatment centre for adult male child abusers, showed that in over 7 years and with 305 residents, 41 were deemed professional perpetrators as they had abused children in the context of a paid or voluntary role – working with children, for example, in residential work, teaching, youth work and church ministry.
  10. Safer Recruitment training for trainers is one of the few nationally accredited safeguarding courses and national statutory guidance requires that at least one person on each recruitment panel receives this Safer Recruitment training (Keeping Children Safe in Education (2016)).

Are you in the process of recruiting?

“The school staffing regulations require governing bodies of schools to ensure that at least one person on any appointment panel has undertaken safer recruitment training.
Keeping children safe in education’ (2016), Part 3

In December 2013, following a series of meetings between the DfE and interested parties, the Safer Recruitment Consortium was created to update the face-to-face and online training materials and create a vehicle to ensure that good quality training continues to be available to schools, colleges and other education services.  The new Safer Recruitment training was launched on 1st September 2014 and has been updated regularly since.

Mandy Parry is a fully accredited Safer Recruitment trainer who uses fully accredited and updated materials Safer Recruitment training materials prepared by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation. Right now in the South West, you would be unlikely to be able to sign up to a more cost effective course. If you would like further information on the course, please do call me on 07811 101740 and I will be pleased to help.