We were commissioned to evaluate the Protecting Parents Across Communities programme (PPAC), which was run by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation from June 2009 to June 2012. PPAC aimed to develop opportunities to work with non-English speaking communities to prevent child sexual abuse (CSA).
We’ve published two reports about the findings from our evaluation. The first, Working with a community to prevent child sexual abuse in the home, explores what we learned about developing an approach to preventing CSA with members of a particular community.
The second, Four steps to the prevention of child sexual abuse within the home, explains how professionals can help mothers within a specific community to reduce the risk of CSA in the home.
Although these reports are about work done with the Somali community, the findings are helpful for anyone who’s interested in developing preventative approaches with a community.
Author: Mike Williams
Key findings from our two evaluations
Working with a community to prevent child sexual abuse in the home
We found that working directly with community members helps professionals to identify local risks. It’s less likely these would be captured through other means, such as carrying out population-level surveys or impact studies.
Other findings include:
Community based prevention programmes need to be careful about employing 'insiders'.
Whilst it’s often helpful to employ someone who is already a part of the community, there may be a tendency for them to engage with people they already know rather than approaching people from a cross-section of the community.
While it’s important to be as inclusive as possible, it can sometimes help to exclude certain people from the programme.
If some people in the community are sceptical about the programme, others may be wary about being involved. Programme leaders may decide not to engage with particular groups in order to empower others.
It is one thing to listen and another to respond.
Community based prevention programmes need to have sufficient budget and resources to respond to community members’ ideas and preferences. In this programme, for example, a female member of staff was employed to make discussions about sexual abuse more comfortable for mothers.
Four steps to the prevention of child sexual abuse within the home
We found that CSA prevention programmes need to help mothers overcome the challenges to identifying risk and taking action if they are to be successful.
Other findings include:
Mothers needed to take four steps to get to the point where they were able to take action to reduce the risk of CSA.
- Increasing understanding about abuse, how and where it happens.
- Accepting the possibility of abuse at home and in the family.
- Accurately assessing the risks posed to one’s own children.
- Lowering known risks by negotiating with family members.
At each step, mothers faced emotional, intellectual and social challenges.
Some mothers were able to overcome those challenges and some were not.
It’s not enough to focus solely on improving parents’ knowledge and confidence in order to prevent CSA.
This traditional approach may fail some children if the emotional and social barriers to identifying risk and taking action are not also addressed.
“In the past, I knew the subject existed but was not fully sure and did not fully understand the extent of it. Listening and watching the film made it clear that child sexual abuse happens within the Somali and other communities. Seeing the DVD has had a huge impact. To hear a story from someone who experienced abuse is completely different. It’s more live, seeing a person talking about themselves.”
Williams, M. (2018) Working with a community to prevent child sexual abuse in the home. London: NSPCC
Williams, M. (2018) Four steps to the prevention of child sexual abuse within the home. London: NSPCC