CSE focus 'diverts attention from other forms of abuse', NSPCC warns

Joe Lepper
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The current focus on tackling child sexual exploitation (CSE) is distracting policymakers from efforts to combat other forms of child abuse, the NSPCC has warned.

According to the NSPCC, 90 per cent of abuse is carried out by someone the victim knows, such as a family member. But the charity believes the debate around child abuse has become too focused on CSE, as well as crimes committed by celebrities. 

The issue of CSE has grown in prominence in recent years on the back of an independent report by Professor Alexis Jay which estimated that 1,400 children in Rotherham were sexually exploited between 1997 and 2013.

The government went on to launch a high-profile strategy in March 2015, containing a raft of measures to tackle CSE.

But the NSPCC is concerned that the focus on CSE has distracted politicians, the media and justice agencies from other more prevalent forms of child sex abuse.

Vivienne Laing, NSPCC's Wales policy and public affairs manager is to raise the concerns on a BBC Radio Wales documentary being broadcast tonight (14 February).  

"What we're concerned about is that the news and the focus of local authorities, safeguarding boards, governments, [and the] Crown Prosecution Service is very much on celebrities and on child sexual exploitation," she said.

"Whereas we're really concerned about child sex abuse in the family and that seems to have been forgotten about. We think it's the most prevalent form of child sex abuse."

In 2016 the Welsh government introduced an action plan to tackle child sexual exploitation, but the NSPCC wants to see this expanded to include all child sex abuse.

"We shouldn't just be focusing on child exploitation," Laing added.

"We also need to focus on other areas of sexual abuse, including abuse in the family. We think it's preventable by harnessing everyone's efforts. That's why we've got this policy call."