Implementing the Model National Response
- CSEA victims are provided with planned and integrated end-to-end support to help them cope with the immediate impact of their abuse and recover from the harm experienced.
- Risk assessments inform the immediate support plan as soon as a victim is identified.
- A fully integrated and personal end-to-end plan is in place to support the victim through the investigation, legal proceedings and beyond.
- By the end of provision, victims are able to support themselves independently.
- Support is provided by professionals who are trained and experienced in supporting CSEA victims.
Why is it needed?
- CSEA victims may not recognise themselves as victims and may remain in a state of denial. They are vulnerable to coercion, persuasion, peer pressures or abuse of positions of trust by those who offend against them and therefore need to be provided with support throughout the investigation and legal proceedings to keep them engaged and cooperative.
- Often victims feel isolated by those closest to them and require prolonged and professional support to recognise that the offending behaviour they have been subjected to is not ‘normal’ and amounts to severe criminal offending which will support the gathering of evidence.
- Often victims can become more vulnerable and susceptible to depression, self-harm or suicide from such feelings of isolation and need access to specialist support services.
- Longer-term support is essential as mental health issues can often follow, with the effects of abuse remaining with victims for many years beyond offending.
- International child protection standards should inform and facilitate working with victims during the investigation and judicial proceedings in ways that: Enable the gathering of best evidence from vulnerable children
- Enhance, rather than detract from, their wellbeing and welfare
- Manage and reduce risk to victims
- Ensure that victims are supported and safeguarded regardless of their willingness to participate in the investigation or judicial proceedings.
- The wider welfare of children should be considered and wider support provided where required such as relocation and ongoing services to support their recovery and rehabilitation.
- An appropriate response by the health sector is critical for victims as this can be the first sector which detects CSEA and refers cases to law enforcement and other support services.
- Any cultural barriers to the disclosure of abuse should be challenged and professionals should seek to communicate an attitude that is protective, non-blaming and non-judgemental.
- Planning for individual victim care should be informed by the individual needs of the child and provided by those with specific relevant training.
- End-to-end support starts from the point of first contact with the victim and should include communication and safety planning throughout.
- Close collaboration between law enforcement and those statutory agencies or NGOs whose primary remit is the care and welfare of children is fundamental to ensuring a comprehensive response for victims that is respectful of the full range of children’s rights. This collaboration will assist with information-sharing, as well as access to specialist alternative care and the development of an end-to-end support plan. The type of specialist support services required could include medical support, emergency accommodation, financial assistance, education, therapeutic care and potentially longer-term assistance in moving to a different location. A support plan should consider and research the availability of these services from the outset.