Young people’s recognition of abuse and neglect

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner has published research looking at young people's recognition of abuse and neglect, and of getting help from family, friends and professionals.

Key findings include:

  • The ability of young people to recognise abuse and neglect was linked with increasing age;
  • Young people most often came to the attention of services through their behaviour and demeanour rather than through explicitly disclosing abuse;
  • It is important for professionals to notice signs and symptoms of young people’s distress at any age and not to rely unduly upon the young person to talk about their abuse. A significant risk of reliance on verbal telling is that a young person’s silence or denial means that abuse is not pursued;
  • There are many barriers to telling for young people, including their past negative experiences of help, and the immediate supportive response of adults matters greatly for both immediate help and longer term benefit;
  • Young people value professionals they can trust, who are effective, knowledgeable and available. Teachers and youth workers were found to be particularly important as people to tell and they and social workers were valued as being able to provide holistic support.

To download the research visit

Also NSPCC has published research on the childhood experiences of abuse of young men and women and how they disclosed the abuse and sought help. Findings include that over 80 percent of the children tried to tell someone about the abuse and 90 percent of them had negative experiences of disclosure, mainly because the people they told responded poorly.

To download the report visit

In addition, the Crown Prosecution Service has published final guidance on the prosecution of cases involving child sexual abuse in England and Wales. The guidance covers how victims should be treated and tells prosecutors to focus on the credibility of the allegations rather than whether or not victims make good witnesses.

To access the guidance visit

The National Crime Agency and CEOPs have published its report Foundations of Abuse, which is a thematic assessment of the risk of child sexual abuse by adults in institutions. The report warns that institutionalised child abuse will exist unless organisations working with children have in place proper measures to safeguard children and young people.

To download the report visit