nspccThe NSPCC are urging people not to wait to report child sexual abuse after results of a new poll showed fewer than one in five would report concerns as soon as they arose.

Despite the rise in media coverage of child sexual abuse as a result of last week's joint NSPCC/Metropolitan Police report into allegations made against Jimmy Savile, the NSPCC/YouGov poll shows that the majority of people still wait to act.

Launching the new six-week national TV campaign, Peter Watt, Director of the NSPCC’s helpline, said: “Child sexual abuse is not a problem that died with Jimmy Savile. It is a problem that continues today, with children across the UK suffering at the hands of a minority of adults.

“Whilst the uplift in reports of abuse and new figures indicating that people are more willing to speak out is very welcome, it’s also clear that people are still waiting for that elusive certainty before taking action. People clearly have the desire to act but are unsure how or when to do it.

“The truth is you will probably never be certain because of the hidden nature of abuse, especially sexual abuse. This is why we are taking our award winning ‘Don’t wait’ film to a wider audience as a television advert."gvv

Having investigated over 500 lines of inquiry (73% of which involved children) on former BBC presenter Savile, the Met and the NSPCC published last week's report entitled 'Giving Victims a Voice'.

The report concluded that Savile was a prolific, predatory sex offender and the scale of his abuse is believed to be unprecedented in the UK, with Commander Commander Peter Spindler, head of the Met's Specialist Crime Investigations adding that "Savile's offending footprint was vast, predatory and opportunistic". [read the full story at www.policingtoday.co.uk/met_and_nspcc_give_savile_victims_a_voice_29631.aspx]

At the press conference to launch the report, Watt reported that the NSPCC had seen a 200% increase in calls to its helpline, even before accounting for calls relating to Savile, but he fears that too many continue to wait until they are certain before reporting abuse.

The subsequent NSPCC poll found that the main barriers to reporting child abuse would be fear of being wrong (59 per cent), fear of making it worse for the child (39 per cent), fear of splitting up the child’s family (17 per cent) and fear of repercussions for the accused (17 per cent).

Commenting on the findings psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos said: “Jimmy Savile was allowed to abuse in part because people were not certain what they were seeing was abuse, and in part because the children themselves were not listened to or believed. It’s vital that people listen to what children are saying, and that they report concerns immediately even if they are not certain.

“People are understandably concerned about being wrong or making things worse for the child if they say something, but all the time they spend procrastinating that child could be in real danger. To a child who is being abused every day the abuse is allowed to continue can feel like a lifetime. And its important people understand that if they are wrong, a family will not be separated because of their mistake. Trained professionals will tactfully investigate before any action is taken. You can’t be expected to know for certain and that’s where the NSPCC can help.”

Posted 15/01/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com