Much more needs to be done to help victims of child sexual abuse, it is an under reported crime and there is not enough help available for children who are sexually abused.
That’s the view of Plaid Cymru’s north Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd who heard about the hundreds of youngsters accessing therapeutic services at the Prestatyn-based NSPCC specialist help centre.
Mr Gruffydd met with experts at the centre providing help and support to the many children who endure sexual abuse. He said: “With local authorities facing cuts in funding and our NHS struggling to keep pace with growing demand, services for children are often undervalued and underfunded. One survey, The Welsh Adverse Childhood Experiences Study by Public Health Wales, estimates that 10% of children in Wales have been victim of sexual abuse – commonly by someone they knew, loved or trusted. The impact of such an experience takes a great deal of time and support to overcome and it’s worrying to think that many children don’t feel able to talk about such abuse and even if they do come forward don’t receive the help and support they need to overcome their experiences.
“Children’s and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is very much a cinderella service for these children and, from what I hear from professionals, it’s becoming more difficult to access help and therapy until children and young people reach the stage of self-harming or becoming suicidal. There’s a clear need for more rapid and early intervention to ensure all children who have suffered abuse to receive the right support for them to recover at the right time.”
He said failing to deal with the problem at the outset was effectively storing up problems for both the individual and society as a whole in the future: “The extent of the problem can’t be overstated and, if governments insist on cutting these services even further, we will be failing the many thousands of abused children. If we do not deal with this properly and commit resources, in many cases these youngsters will become damaged adults and the cycle will continue. It’s vital we get this right and do much more support abused children and I am interested in doing more to prevent child sexual abuse happening in the first place.”
Mr Gruffudd added: “If anyone is worried about a child they can ring the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 and encourage the child to contact ChildLine. In addition, the NSPCC at its Prestatyn Service Centre provides a therapeutic service for children who have been sexually abused. If you know a child aged
4-17 who has been sexually abused and are interested in the service please contact 01745 772100 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org.”