Child sexual abuse - Vision and reality - Save the Children Sweden
Europe-wide research and dissemination of good practice in the development of information, educational and other materials in the field of child sexual abuse; covering prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.
To identify good practice examples in Europe of prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse, researchers were commissioned to report on the countries studied. Despite time constraints, a large body of material and practice was reviewed and 30 prevention programmes and 26 treatment programmes were studied.
The general findings illustrate the difficulties inherent in this type of research: the investigations revealed imbalances between countries regarding the volume of material and the quality and characteristics of the programmes. No prevention programmes were found in Norway, for example, although this has not always been the case. No prevention programmes were identified in Greece, although clearly there must be some (including, for example, as part of Daphne-funded activity). [See below, under Lessons and ideas].
On the basis of the results of the research, and following information exchange sessions, proposals were drawn up in the form of recommendations about the characteristics that materials and practices in this field have or should have.
The project illustrated the difficulty of developing satisfactory tools to evaluate programmes, particularly prevention programmes (how do you measure whether a programme has stopped something from happening?) A broad assessment of treatment programmes led to the conclusion that programmes for the treatment of victims have been generally more successful than those aiming to treat perpetrators of abuse.
Lessons and Ideas
1. Twelve months is too short for this sort of research project, and the limited findings clearly illustrate this. There remains a serious gap in mapping the broad extent of experiences in this area – the researchers’ problems in identifying programmes in some countries, for example, would have been partly solved if a comprehensive mapping of activities had existed.
2. Good practice is an elusive concept. Defining what is ‘good’ is complex and has to take into account the impact on children, positive and negative. And yet generally the impact of activities is not systematically measured or recorded. It is therefore always important to begin by agreeing criteria on how to decide what is ‘good’ – or perhaps ‘valuable’ – practice.
3. The project found that the majority of prevention programmes in Europe had not been evaluated at all, except in terms of assessing participant satisfaction and implementation/performance. The impact on children and others had rarely been measured.
4. The project also found that programmes were most often run in isolation and were not positioned in broader contexts (for example, school programmes were not often found in a broader context of sex education or personal development). Similarly, the project concluded that all those working with children should be trained in the subject of sexual abuse, since such abuse is not an isolated subject to be separated out from the rest of the child’s life experiences.
5. Only a few countries have programmes aimed particularly at protecting children with disabilities, or children in other specifically vulnerable groups, for example migrant children or children who are victims of other forms of ill treatment. Where such programmes do exist, there is an opportunity to learn lessons and spread such lessons across Europe.
Report: Vision and reality (English, Spanish, French, Greek, Finnish)
Report surveying work of 20 organizations (English)
Researchers’ individual reports (English)
Report: The sexual exploitation and trafficking of children in Greece (English from Rädda Barnen; Greek from Save the Children Greece, 54 Papadiamondopoulou St., Athens, GR-157 71 Zografou; e-mail: email@example.com )