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New Strategy To Tackle Child Sexual Abuse

A new strategy calls for all agencies to work together with young people and their families, in a coherent and consistent way, to tackle child sexual abuse and exploitation.

The Jersey Safeguarding Partnership Board says the aim is to respond to it as early as possible and reduce the long-term impact it has on children, young people, and their families.

This is the third strategy. Previous strategies led to the development of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre at Dewberry House.

It's estimated, based on the 2019 population data, that 459 boys and 1373 girls may have experienced sexual abuse and exploitation in Jersey. 70 to 90 of them have come to the attention of the police, which equates to three cases per 1000 children.

Research suggests that two-thirds of abuse and exploitation happen in the family setting.

Child sexual abuse and exploitation charge rates in Jersey have fallen from 21% in 2017 to 11% in 2021.

In England and Wales, it has fallen from 37% in 2015 to 12% in 2020.

Youngsters who have been affected say they want more education and awareness to stop it from happening, with a focus on educating perpetrators to change their behaviour.

They have also asked for better access to recovery support services that are individually tailored to their needs as a person, not as a victim.

"In the last four years, more children and young people in Jersey have been able to access SARC, advocacy and NSPCC services, but gaps remain in (the) availability of varied emotional and body-based therapeutic support for children and their families, and child friendly justice."

The strategy sets out three main priorities:

Preventing and Identifying Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Agencies will work together to:

  • Deliver support programmes for young people and adults with harmful sexual behaviour.
  • Make sure children and young people are aware of all forms of child sexual abuse and exploitation, including intrafamilial and criminal exploitation.
  • Raise public awareness of child sexual abuse and exploitation.
  • Give training to professionals, volunteers, faith groups, residential home staff, taxi drivers and sports providers.
  • Focus on identifying, diversion and recovery from child criminal exploitation.

Child-friendly investigation of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation.

Agencies will work together to:

  • Make sure children and young people experience child-friendly justice and feel confident to report child sexual abuse and exploitation.
  • Create a child sexual abuse and exploitation pathway that is shaped by children and young people and reduces the number of times they need to tell of their abuse/exploitation.
  • Make sure early emotional support is available, including pre-trial therapy for those children and young people whose case is actively investigated.
  • Improve information sharing between agencies.

Enabling recovery from Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation.

Agencies will work together to:

  • Create joined-up CSA services delivered in one safe space to support children, young people and parents.
  • Record evaluations and outcomes.
  • Widen the scope of recovery and empowerment services to include emotional and body-based support for as long as it's needed.
  • Ensure staff wellbeing through supervision, reflective practice and other activities.
  • Support the development of survivor networks.
  • Secure recurrent funding for services for children and young people that experience abuse and exploitation.

"We’ve listened to what children and young people have said to us about what they need to help them speak up and get help with the serious issue of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Our new strategy builds on previous developments such as Dewberry House Sexual Assault Referral Centre and the introduction of Independent Sexual Violence Advisors to ensure we make Jersey the safest place possible to grow up and thrive - free from the devastating impact of child sexual abuse and exploitation." - Sarah Elliott, Pan-Island Independent Chair for the Safeguarding Partnerships.

The government says the fundamental vision is for all children and young people in Jersey to be free from abuse and exploitation.

"The impact of CSAE on children, young people, their families and their carers is deep and long-lasting.

This strategy brings together colleagues from within and outside Government to prevent CSAE from happening, and to support children and young people who have experienced CSAE to heal, seek justice, and move forward." - Rob Sainsbury, Interim Director General of Children, Young People, Education and Skills.

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