A guide for working with families affected by child sexual abuse

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

A guide to help professionals support parents/carers if concerns about sexual abuse have surfaced has been produced by the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse.

The resource aims to help professionals provide a “confident, supportive response” to parents/carers when concerns about the sexual abuse of their child have been raised or abuse has been identified.

It also includes a specific section aimed at teachers and school staff, including advice on supporting the child themselves as well as their family.

The CSA Centre states: “For parents and carers, discovering that their child may have been sexually abused is one of the most devastating events they can experience.

“This new guide helps professionals provide a confident, supportive response when concerns about the sexual abuse of a parent or carer’s child have been raised or identified.”

Advice for schools includes forming a core group of those who need to be closely involved, “including the staff member that the child feels most able to talk to – they will be the main person with whom the child has regular contact”.

It also outlines the support the child may need, including help when deciding which of their peers to talk to (if any), reassurance about who on the staff knows, and help identifying potential trigger points (such as sex and relationships education lessons).

Offering pupils the ability to phone home at any point if they are anxious or upset is also advised.

The guide adds: “It may also be helpful to give the child a sign (e.g. a card they can hold up to a teacher) which they can use to signal that they need time out or that they need to find a ‘safe’ person or place.”

It also states: “Parents will appreciate being kept in touch with how their child is coping at school and being given positive news (e.g. the child participated well in a music lesson), as well as being told when the child was distressed and how this was managed.”

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