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Protecting children from abuse in institutions

The Foundations of Abuse: A thematic assessment of the risk of CSE by adults in institutions

In the first thematic assessment published by the National Crime Agency child protection experts, at the agency’s CEOP Command, have warned that institutions such as schools, churches and care homes are still not safe despite high profile media coverage of historical offences.

The report, The Foundations of Abuse, warns that more needs to be done by institutions, also including sports clubs, youth groups, charities and companies, to protect children. It also warns that children are not only at risk from those directly abusing them but also from “bystanders” who are aware of the abuse but fail to report it.

The report warns that management structures in institutions can facilitate abuse by discouraging junior members of staff from reporting suspicions, and allowing offenders to gain the trust of their victims and those who should be protecting them.

The report also provides an insight into how offenders have used their position in institutions to abuse children. In many of the cases studied by the CEOP Command, offenders groomed their victims by offering rewards or privilege in order to continue their abuse. Particularly in religious settings, the report highlights how “victims and those around them are often in awe of offenders,considering the attention paid to them as an honour”.

Key recommendations, mainly targeted at institutions themselves, from the report include:

  • Putting the interests of children first
  • Creating a safe environment for reporting
  • Creating a compulsion to report
  • Effectively implementing and monitoring safeguarding policies
  • Improving protection through safer recruitment
  • Releasing alleged offenders’ identities

(Source: NCA)