Stamping out child abuse is the responsibility of everyone who works with children and NHS staff - from receptionists to nurses and doctors - are ideally placed to spot the signs of child sexual abuse and exploitation.
That is why The Children's Society has joined forces with the Department of Health to develop a new initiative for hundreds of thousands of health professionals across the UK.
Seen and Heard-- a powerful, interactive e-learning course with video -- created by The Children's Society will support three quarters of a million staff across the NHS to recognise the signs of child sexual abuse or exploitation, as well as understand how to make children feel able to speak about what is happening to them.
In 2014, the Government declared child sexual abuse one of the greatest threats facing the UK today. Alarmingly, 1 in 20 children in the UK has been sexually abused. Many children don't feel able to report their abuse because they are afraid or feel they won't be believed. Frequently, their pain goes unnoticed or the signs that they are being abused or exploited are misunderstood. And sometimes, child victims are wrongly seen as difficult, moody or uncooperative.
Too often children are expected to shoulder the burden of disclosing what is happening to them, which is a huge and often frightening step for any child to take. Through Seen and Heard, we hope to break down these barriers so children can get the help and protection they need as soon as an adult suspects sexual abuse is taking place.
We worked with over 100 young people, some of whom are victims of sexual abuse, in order to make sure their concerns are central to the training.
Although the training focuses on staff working in the health service, it is relevant to anyone who works with children and is freely available to all. Recognising the warning signs and creating the right opportunities for children to talk is everyone's responsibility and this is an important step forward in making this a reality.
By recognising the signs of child sexual abuse, these vulnerable children will be both seen and heard so they can get the protection and support they need in order to recover from these horrific crimes.
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