Young people who survived child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSE) have put forward their recommendations on how to tackle the problem in a ground-breaking report created by Fixers, with support from the Wellcome Trust.
They had travelled from around the country to attend Fixers workshops and debate the issue of CSE earlier this year. Now their findings have been gathered together in the report, ‘Fixing Child Sexual Exploitation,’ which was launched on Thursday 28 September in Manchester, at a gathering of senior health professionals from the NHS.
It will later be shared widely with key decision makers and influential figures across the UK. Susan Warburton, Head of Safeguarding for NHS England and Lisa Cooper, the Deputy Director of Quality and Safeguarding for NHS England North and the National Lead for Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation for NHS England, also attended the event.
At the launch, the young people courageously shared their own experiences with members of the NHS England Child Sexual Exploitation sub-group, in a bid to bring about better support for other victims of CSE. They and Fixers UK, believe that it is crucial that organisations listen to the voices of young CSE survivors, based on their own lived experiences, before planning and tailoring services to assist other young victims.
This report is part of the Feel Happy Fix Series run by Fixers, which brings together young people who already campaign on issues that affect their well-being, to share their insight and the lessons they have learnt.
The Fixing Child Sexual Exploitation report focuses on three key areas – the reactions of family and friends, victims’ treatment by professionals and how their mental and physical health had been affected.
At the event was ‘Kirsty’, a survivor of CSE. She said: ‘Originally I was nervous that I would spill my heart out and nothing would happen, but after this I feel like my voice is being heard for once. ‘I’ve gone through most of my life not speaking about what happened, but in the last year I’ve started to open up. It’s like a big weight gets lifted every time I talk about it. ‘What I want to see happen is for schools to teach children about CSE and help make a difference. If everyone’s on the same page it’s only a matter of time before someone starts listening.’
In the report, the survivors of CSE described a range of issues to be considered by professionals who deal with young victims of sexual crimes. The findings included the feelings of helplessness experienced by victims when reporting CSE to the authorities. There were also calls for greater empathy from healthcare workers and more trust from the criminal justice system. ‘It was a really thought provoking event and brilliant to hear the voices of the survivors,’ said Cheryl A Sherratt, Deputy Director of Nursing for the North Midlands, who agreed that changes must now be made.‘It sets it in context and makes it real – it’s like a call to action. We can’t hear this and then not go forward and do something significant and brave.’
Please visit visit the microsite on our website, fixers.org.uk to read more about the ‘Fixing Child Sexual Exploitation’ report.
There are also more resources on this topic, and Fixers films available to view.