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UK News

The Children's Society calls new Home Office strategy to combat child sexual abuse 'a golden opportunity'

The Children's Society has welcomed a new government strategy to prevent, tackle and respond to all forms of child sexual abuse.

The strategy was published by Priti Patel and includes the announcement that the Government will support local areas to improve their response to exploitation with funding for The Children's Society's Prevention Programme initiative.

The Children's Society was founded in 1881 by Sunday school teacher Edward Rudolf in South London. Mark Russell, Chief Executive at The Children's Society, said in a statement: "Sexual abuse and exploitation leave deep scars on young lives and no child should have to go through this horrific ordeal. 
 
"It can affect any child or young person in any community and it's vital they get the help they need, not only for their immediate safety and well-being, but to help them recover from the trauma and stay safe in the long run. 
 
"Great strides have been made in identifying and responding to the issue in recent years, particularly as awareness of child sexual exploitation has increased. 
 
"However, there are still too many times when professionals miss early signs of abuse, fail to share vital information, or dismiss children as trouble-makers. Too often, there is an over-reliance on disclosures from traumatised children and too many offenders are not brought before the courts. 
 
"We warmly welcome the announcement of renewed funding for our national Prevention programme, which works with professionals and communities to help them prevent and tackle child abuse and exploitation - for instance through training to spot the warning signs and identify children who need help earlier. 
 
"This strategy is a golden opportunity to improve support for child victims of horrific crimes and send a clear signal that child sexual abuse and exploitation are crimes that will not be tolerated.  
 
"That is more important than ever right now as successive lockdowns have left many children increasingly vulnerable and isolated, with worrying increases in instances of online child abuse and children coming to serious harm. The focus upon tackling abuse online as well as offline is crucial. 
 
"It's vital this strategy is followed through with sustained investment and action across national and local government to intervene early to prevent abuse and exploitation escalating, support victims, empower families and professionals to act and bring perpetrators to justice," he added.

The Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy sets out how the Government will use new legislation and enhanced technology to stop offenders in their tracks. 

Investment in the UK's world-leading Child Abuse Image Database to identify and catch more offenders quicker was announced. New tools will be used to speed up police investigations and protect officers' wellbeing by avoiding them being repeatedly exposed to indecent images.  
 
The Home Office added it will make it easier for parents and carers to ask the police if someone has a criminal record for child sexual offences as the department commits to a review of Sarah's Law. 
 
The measures are on top of civil orders to stop reoffending and introducing stronger sentencing so that serious violent and sexual offenders remain in prison for longer.  

The government is also to introduce a ground-breaking Online Safety Bill to ensure that technology companies are held to account for harmful content on their sites, and do not compromise on children's safety.

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