In Demand: Therapeutic Services for Children and Young People Who Have Experienced Sexual Abuse

Debra Allnock*, Lorraine Radford, Lisa Bunting, Avril Price, Natalie Morgan-Klein, Jane Ellis, Anne Stafford

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper describes the key findings of an NSPCC study estimating need, in the UK, for therapeutic services for children who have experienced sexual abuse. This is based upon current estimates of the prevalence and impact of sexual abuse towards children and young people against the availability of therapeutic services in the UK. Data were collected on service location, availability, scope and coverage across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Researchers: (1) mapped 508 services; (2) collected data from 195 services via a structured questionnaire; (3) followed up 21 service managers and 11 service commissioners with a semi-structured interview; and (4) carried out two focus groups with young people. Data were collected on service location, availability, scope and coverage The overall level of specialist provision is low, with less than one service available per 10 000 children and young people in the UK. Calculations of need indicate that 57 156 children across the UK in the last year may have been unable to access a service. Findings from services support the view that need outstrips availability; that referral routes are limited, leaving few options for young people who have been raped or seriously sexually assaulted to directly access support; that significant waiting lists mean services must focus on reactive, rather than preventive, work; and that services are less accessible for certain groups, especially sexually abused teenagers, children with disabilities and those from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee backgrounds. Copyright (c) 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Key Practitioner Messages Relevant professionals must be adequately trained to talk to children about sexual abuse and to identify those vulnerable in order to identify need. Expert specialist services are well placed to share learning on early help and identification with broader children's service providers. Active steps need to be taken by commissioners in consultation with young people, voluntary sector and adult sexual violence service providers to meet the shortfall at the level of local authorities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)318-334
    Number of pages17
    JournalChild Abuse Review
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012


    • RISK
    • MODEL
    • therapeutic services
    • WOMEN
    • sexual abuse

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Law
    • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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