Viewing of online child abuse images a ‘social emergency’

The numbers of people viewing online child sex abuse images in the UK amount to a “social emergency”, says the NSPCC.

A report by the charity suggests the number of individuals looking at such images could exceed half a million.

It is calling for a “robust action plan” to cut off the supply of content.

The Home Office says it is working with law enforcers, companies and voluntary organisations to stamp out online child exploitation.

In the past five years the number of offences recorded by police of viewing child sexual abuse images under the Obscene Publications Act has more than doubled across the UK, reaching a total of 8,745 in 2015.

But the NSPCC believes the true scale of offending in the UK to be far greater.

Read more on the BBC News Website

Order in Court: supporting children giving evidence

Support the NSPCC campaign in demanding a justice system fit for children

Giving evidence in court is a distressing experience for anyone, but for children who have been victims of horrific forms of cruelty such as sexual abuse, it can add to the trauma they have already suffered.

Over half of child witnesses in the justice system experience symptoms of stress, such as depression, panic attacks, eating and sleeping problems, and self-harm. Some are even suicidal.

read more here Order in Court: supporting children giving evidence| NSPCC.

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Preventing child abuse in Sunderland

CHILDREN at a Sunderland primary are among the first in the region to benefit from a new campaign which aims to prevent abuse.

The NSPCC has launched its Now I Know campaign which aims to put ChildLine in every primary school in the North East.

It also plans to have trained volunteers visit every school at least every two years to talk to children about abuse, how to protect themselves and where they can get help if they need it.

Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Robert Heron and Mayoress Juliana Heron, went along to Eppleton Primary School in Houghton to see one of the ChildLine Schools Service in action for five and six-year-olds.

Using assemblies and workshops, the project is designed to encourage children to recognise situations where they may need help, and to let them know where they can get support.

The pioneering service is a shift towards preventative work designed to equip pupils with the knowledge they need to act with confidence if they fear abuse, before it does lasting harm.

The new chief executive officer of the NSPCC, Peter Wanless, said: “People in this country do not want to tolerate child abuse.

“We no longer need to convince them of the suffering it leads to, or the costs to future lives.

“Protection after the event, vital as it is, can’t attack the root causes of the problem.

“We want children to be able to say ‘Now I Know’ not, ‘I wish I had known’.”

NSPCC research shows that, on average, at least two children in every primary classroom will have suffered some form of abuse or neglect.

Police ‘struggling’ with historical child abuse workload

The NSPCC and Rape Crisis England and Wales have both reported an increase in the number of calls about abuse in the wake of the Savile revelations.

The NSPCC says some police forces are struggling to deal with an increase in historical child abuse cases, after the BBC obtained figures indicating arrests in such cases had fallen.

The number of allegations rose by 70% after Jimmy Savile’s past was widely publicised, but arrests fell by 6% over the same period.

The NSPCC said it was concerned about the difficult choices the police faced.

The Home Office said police forces were determined to “stamp out” child abuse.

Under a Freedom of Information request, the BBC’s 5 live Investigates programme obtained figures for the number of historical child abuse allegations that were made to 28 police forces in the six months between November 2012 and April 2013 – the period after ITV’s Exposure documentary about Jimmy Savile.

The same set of figures was obtained for the same six month period a year earlier.

‘We have to prioritise’

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) was one of the forces that provided figures. It saw a 121% increase in allegations of historical child abuse over that period – from 109 to 241.

At the same time, the number of current sex cases the force has to deal with has also risen, intensifying the workload on the GMP’s rape and sexual crime unit.

Det Insp Neil Charnock: “It is not an ideal scenario to be in but ultimately we have to prioritise the cases”

Detective Inspector Neil Charnock said it was often necessary to target limited resources at current sex abuse cases because of the need to gather scientific evidence.

“We obviously have to go and capture the scene and recover the evidence before we lose it, before it becomes contaminated.”

More recent cases “can sometimes take priority over some of the more historic cases where we know we’re not losing any forensic evidence,” he added.

“It is not an ideal scenario to be in but ultimately we have to prioritise the cases.”

He went on to explain that officers try to determine what level of risk an alleged offender may still pose in historical cases – when deciding where it falls in their list of priorities.

‘Abhorrent crime’

Find out more

Listen to the full report on 5 live Investigates on BBC Radio 5 live on Sunday, 6 October at 11:00 BST or download the programme podcast.

UK-wide, forces said 1,204 allegations were made in the first six-month period, compared to 2,044 in the second – an increase of 70%.

The BBC defined historical allegations as those which occurred more than 10 years ago.

“Forces are struggling with the increased number of allegations that have been made and are struggling with their own capacity to handle those,” said Jon Brown from the NSPCC.

He said he was concerned about the workload some of those forces faced and that they were having to make some difficult decisions about which cases they investigated first.

Kent Police saw a 211% increase in historical allegations between those two periods, from 55 cases to 171, while Suffolk’s caseload rose from 25 to 61.

BBC Radio 5 live also obtained figures from 22 police forces comparing the number of arrests that were made in historic child abuse cases between the same two six month periods.

The figures show that while the number of allegations were going up, the number of arrests for historical child abuse over the same period fell from 434 to 407 – a reduction of 6%.

“Other factors in relation to these figures could be potentially some caution by the police about not wanting to be seen to be engaging in a witch-hunt,” said Jon Brown from the NSPCC.

“The police have possibly been cautious about moving to arrest and charge until they are absolutely clear about the volume of evidence they’ve got.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Child sexual exploitation is an abhorrent crime which this government is determined to stamp out.

“The police are more engaged, aware and determined to identify victims.

“We will continue to work to ensure victims are not left to suffer in silence and ensure that those who exploit them are brought to justice.”

NSPCC launches new ChildLine campaign aimed at Wales’ primary schools

The child protection charity wants ChildLine installed in every primary school and to talk to every pupil in bid to prevent abuse before it happens.

Chilld abuse could be reduced dramatically if more is done to stop it before it starts, the new head of the NSPCC has said.

The claim from Peter Wanless comes as the children’s charity launched its “Now I Know” campaign asking for ChildLine to be installed in every primary school in Wales.

The NSPCC, which runs ChildLine, also wants to go into all 1,556 primaries in Wales every two years to talk to children about abuse so they can recognise the signs, protect themselves and know where to get help.

At the moment too many cases come to light only when victims are teenagers, Natalie Evans, ChildLine schools service coordinator for South Wales, warned.

She said neglect, one form of abuse, was widespread.

“From what I have seen going into schools I think neglect is a much bigger problem than people realise,” she said. “It can happen to any child in any school in any area.”

The ChildLine Schools Service, which has been running in Wales for two years, is part of a major shift by the charity towards preventative work to help children know what to do if they think abuse may or is happening.

NSPCC’s new chief executive Peter Wanless, who wants ChildLine in all UK primaries, said: “People in this country do not want to tolerate child abuse.

“We no longer need to convince them of the suffering it leads to, or the costs to future lives – Jimmy Savile’s crimes are one shocking illustration of the consequences when people do not speak up and are not heard, for whatever reason.

“But we must now inspire everyone to believe that such horrors can be prevented and that they can help.”

At least two children in every primary classroom has suffered some form of abuse or neglect, the charity claims. But the majority of those contacting ChildLine are 11 or older and often talk about abuse that happened months or even years earlier.

Ms Evans said schools were key to recognising risk of abuse as well as abuse.

“Schools can ask us in to talk to year five and six pupils about ChildLine and about abuse,” she said.

“By the time most people call ChildLine they’re teenagers and the abuse has been happening for some time. We realised there’s a whole generation of people not knowing where to go.”

Ms Evans, who trains volunteers going into schools to talk to pupils and teachers, said many children didn’t realise abuse was abnormal until they were older.

“What goes on in your family is seen as normal so, if no one highlights it as not normal, you don’t  know what is normal and where the boundaries are,” she warned.

“Among the things we talk about in schools are the things that happen in abusive situations. We talk to children at the pivotal age of nine, 10 and 11 in year five and six and do assemblies and workshops highlighting different types of child abuse.”

Teachers and pupils are also told neglect can happen in any family and include not having enough food, comfort or clothing.

The need for a preventative service is underlined by a new study conducted for the NSPCC by YouGov2 showing 32% of adults in Wales think they would have recognised abuse if it was happening to them at primary school and 35% would have known who to ask for help if they were being abused when they were aged nine to 13.

More than three quarters (78%) thought educating children aged nine to 11 about what abuse is and where to get help could help stop abuse.

Since launching two years ago ChildLine’s Schools Service has visited 12,743 children in 223 schools across Wales.

Ms Evans said feedback from  was positive with many schools saying they felt more confident in approaching and recognising abuse.

Feedback from schools across the UK visited by ChildLine in the 2012/13 school year, reported pupils’ knowledge of child abuse and bullying was better and 91% said pupils were now more aware of who to talk to if they felt unsafe.

Bedford Blues tackle child abuse issue with NSPCC

THE boys from the Bedford Blues Rugby team have teamed up with the NSPCC to help launch a new campaign.
The children’s charity is launching its ‘Now I Know’ campaign to help them put ChildLine in every primary school in the county with visits once every two years to talk to children about abuse, how to protect themselves and where to get help if they need it.
The need for a preventative service of this kind is underlined by a new study conducted for the charity by YouGov, which shows that only 37% of adults in the East taking part in the survey think they would have been able to recognise abuse if it was happening to them at primary school and less than 8% claim that they would have known who to ask for help if they were being abused when they were aged 9-11. 35% thought that educating children aged 9 -11 in an age appropriate way about what abuse is and where to get help in a school environment could be a powerful weapon against child abuse.
The Service has already visited 120 children in 1 schools in Bedfordshire, and has proved incredibly popular with parents and teachers.* 99 per cent of schools across the UK who provided feedback in 2012/13 claimed that their pupils’ knowledge of child abuse and bullying was enhanced as a result, whilst 91 per cent stated that their pupils were now more aware of who to talk to if they felt unsafe.
The pioneering ChildLine Schools Service is a major shift towards preventative work designed to equip children with the knowledge they need to act with confidence if they fear abuse, before it does terrible and lasting harm. This builds on the charity’s other services which now increasingly focus on preventative work with adults, so the risks of abuse are removed or acted upon more quickly.
NSPCC Chief Executive, Peter Wanless, said: “People in this country do not want to tolerate child abuse. We no longer need to convince them of the suffering it leads to, or the costs to future lives – Jimmy Savile’s crimes are one shocking illustration of the consequences when people do not speak up and are not heard, for whatever reason. But we must now inspire everyone to believe that such horrors can be prevented and that they can help.
“Protection after the event, vital as it is, can’t attack the root causes of the problem. Like us, many professionals and organisations are developing new thinking on prevention and the future tide of child abuse cannot be turned without this. By helping children understand and identify abuse in an age appropriate way, we can encourage them to speak out earlier and protect themselves and others from the devastating effects of abuse.
“We want children to be able to say ‘Now I Know’ – and not, ‘I wish I had known’. And we want everyone to play their part by looking out for children and reinforcing the messages about speaking up.”
NSPCC research shows that, on average, at least two children in every primary classroom will have suffered some form of abuse or neglect1. But ChildLine, a service provided by the NSPCC, says the majority of children who contact its helpline are aged over 11 and often talk about abuse that happened months or even years earlier.
From 2016, the ChildLine Schools Service, which is delivered by trained volunteers and provided for free to all primary schools across the UK, aims to help children aged 9-11 understand abuse. They will give them the confidence to talk about it, the knowledge to prevent it and the courage to find help if they ever need it.
Peter Wanless added: “Child abuse costs the UK billions of pounds every year, and that’s without taking into account the human costs 5. As we know, the National Audit Office estimates that only six per cent of public expenditure is focused on stopping problems from emerging in the first place.
“Through Now I Know we are responding to the vital shift ‘upstream’ to prevention with a unique UK-wide service that we know works and will enable us to empower younger children to prevent abuse from happening.”

To find out more, visit http://www.nowiknow.org.uk