Sex education can help prevent child abuse

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse publishes report on experience in ethnic minorities


LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27: A general view of the logo for the IICSA (Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse) during an update to The Independent Child Sex Abuse Inquiry on November 27, 2015 in London, England. The enquiry which is expected to be presented in 2020 was established by Home Secretary Theresa May in March 2015 will investigate alleged allegations of child abuse by key members of Westminister and Whitehall. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

Good-quality sex education can help prevent child sexual abuse, welfare and community support groups have told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. 

A new report published on Thursday by the IICSA on ethnic minorities described “ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities” as among those who experience additional barriers to disclosure of child abuse. 

The report is based on information from among 100 groups including Norwood. 

“We heard that groups such as the Romany, Irish Traveller, Ultra- Orthodox Jewish and some South Asian diaspora communities experience additional barriers to disclosure, particularly around separate religious and internal support and justice systems,” the report said. 

“We also heard that community leaders sometimes restrict access to external support services in order to protect the community and culture from outside influence or harm.” 

There is no specific reference to the Jewish community beyond one quotation from a member of a Jewish woman’s organisation who stated, “There seems to be a hierarchy, and segregation, in closed ethnic minority communities. Community leaders often work as gatekeepers to these communities.” 

Gatekeepers often restrict access to outside services in order to “protect” the community from outside influence or harm, the IICSA was told. 

Families may turn to community leaders rather than statutory services when a child has been abused. 

Organisations said that education was “key to preventing child sexual abuse” and both children and adults needed access to “good quality, sensitive and targeted relationships and sex education provision”. 

There was “a lack of understanding of the traumatic, long-term effects of child sexual abuse on victims and survivors,” the IICSA was told. “The organisations we spoke to told us that mental health issues are not widely accepted and understood in many ethnic minority communities.  

“We heard that, if more people knew and understood the trauma involved in child sexual abuse, parents and community leaders would understand the importance of relationships and sex education and the need for specialist support services.” 

Child sexual abuse was “under-recognised, under-reported and under-supported in most ethnic minority communities across England and Wales,” the inquiry heard. 

The IICSA is due to publish findings on its hearings into religious organisations later this year. 



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