On November 1, NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) Group Chief Executive Rita Waters, alongside other Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) Changemakers, convened in London to illuminate the continuing issue of child sexual abuse in our society.
The group came together last year, following the final response from government on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), to inspire a national mission to prevent child sexual abuse and provide much improved support to victims and survivors. Following 2.5 million pages of evidence and thousands of hours of evidence sessions, collectively involving more than 7,300 victims and survivors, the IICSA published its final recommendations in October 2022.
The report called the nature and scale of abuse in England and Wales "horrific and deeply disturbing" and explained that institutions too often "prioritised their personal and institutional reputations above the welfare of those they were duty bound to protect”. It concluded that "child protection must be given a much greater priority in public life."
The event in London examined what more can be done by government to adopt a joined-up response to the 20 recommendations set out by the independent inquiry. So far, the government has only committed to a redress scheme for victims and a consultation into mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse.
Although the IICSA Changemakers, a group of 65 organisations and individuals who represent the sectors that both engage and protect children including; charities, law enforcement, frontline public sector organisations and health bodies, welcomed this announcement, they stand united in calling on government to go further to enact meaningful change that will transform the child protection system and offer better therapeutic support for victims of child sexual abuse.
Commenting on the event, Rita Waters, NYAS Group Chief Executive, stated, "It has been a year since the government responded to recommendations made by the IICSA inquiry, yet little progress or commitment has been made by government in advancing the protections thousands of vulnerable children desperately need."
"NYAS, in partnership with IICSA Changemakers, will continue to hold government to account on the inquiry’s recommendations to support, safeguard and empower children and young people across England and Wales."
Speakers at the event included Sir Peter Wanless, Chairman of the IICSA Changemakers and CEO of the NSPCC, alongside Gabrielle Shaw Chief Executive of NAPAC (National Association for People Abused in Childhood), Richard Fewkes, Director of the NPCC Hydrant Programme and representatives from the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel.
Speaking at the event, Sir Peter Wanless, Chairman of IICSA Changemakers and CEO at the NSPCC, shared, “Last year, the inquiry shone a light on the pervasive issue of child sexual abuse in our society. Today, we are coming together to keep those lights on and continue to hold the government to account for their fragmented response to the clear recommendations set out by the Inquiry."
“Children who experience child sexual abuse face a challenging road ahead. With very little therapeutic support available to help them recover and a courts system that can leave them waiting years for support, the situation has become dire. We need the Government to act now and change the tide for the thousands of children facing abuse each year.”