Breaking the stigma: reflecting on more than a decade of child sexual abuse prevention in Wales

25 January 2024

“What we do is very difficult – it’s difficult to talk about,” says Claire Short, national manager of Lucy Faithfull Foundation Wales. “But we do it because we want to help break down the stigma and taboo of talking about child sexual abuse. This is the only way we will prevent it.”

Last month marked a new chapter of our story in Wales as we changed our name from Stop It Now! Wales. Our work and services have evolved since we launched in 2008/09, and we’ve outgrown that name.

But our diverse work continues to grow and our services are more popular – and more needed – than ever. “It’s important to us that there are different strands to our work, using different strategies to prevent child sexual abuse in Wales,” says Claire.

In the first in a series of blog posts about our work in Wales, we shine a spotlight on those different projects and how they’re meeting a growing national need.

Meeting high demand

One of the many projects that sees a high demand in Wales is ‘Keeping Children Safe’, a primary intervention project raising awareness of child sexual abuse, which includes delivering public education for parents, carers, and professionals.

“We originally delivered 36 public education sessions in our first year of the project and now in the fourth year of the project we have already delivered 93, bringing us to a total of 3,518 people supported since the start of the project,” says Claire. “Demand continues to grow.”

As part of this project, we offer a range of 5 sessions for people either living, parenting or working in Wales.

  • ‘Professionals Protect’ – this session talks to professionals who are not necessarily in a safeguarding or frontline role but work with children and families
  • ‘Parents Protect’ – similar in content to ‘Professionals Protect’, this is targeted towards parents and carers. These sessions talk specifically about keeping children safe from sexual abuse, providing information for day-to-day use to prevent child sexual abuse within families or to support children and families they’re working with
  • ‘Understanding Harmful Sexual Behaviour’ – these take a different approach, looking at wider aspects of prevention, including how and why children harm others
  • ‘Awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation’ – this focuses on understanding the risk of exploitation
  • ‘Digital Resilience’ – covers what parents and professionals need to know to keep children and young people safe online. This is the session that is in most demand

“Over the past few years, we’ve also developed programmes using the ‘Train-the-Trainer’ models which helps us recruit and train champions to deliver our ‘Parents Protect’ sessions and tailor these to the audience”, said Gill, assistant national manager of Lucy Faithfull Foundation Wales. “For example, in North Wales, we secured a Welsh language speaker to deliver within Welsh language communities.”

The practical tools to prevent child sexual abuse

More recently, we worked with focus groups, survivors, parents, carers, professionals, and volunteers to develop a toolkit for practitioners in Wales about how to prevent child sexual abuse.

“It’s really important that people who have not had much experience in dealing with child sexual abuse have a toolkit that gives them the information they need,” says Claire, and they can use the resources to work with parents if they need to.

To promote our services, we also regularly host webinars and events and we have found these really popular, with practitioners joining from across Wales. “Recently, we hosted some events delivered by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation’s Beth Loader, a Practitioner for Children and Young People’s Services, who spoke about children with autism who display harmful sexual behaviour and since then, we’ve seen an increase in people asking for help in this area,” added Claire.

Diversifying our services to meet developing needs

“One of our top priorities as a team is keeping our skills updated and we’ve had to diversify and update our knowledge,” says Gill.

“To give an example, in 2015, parents and carers wanted to know more about how to keep children safe online, so we’ve researched and developed training materials and we are now delivering this across Wales”.

“So, whilst the nature of our services has evolved with the needs of our audience, the common thread has remained the same – preventing child sexual abuse,” added Claire.

Much needed educational and emotional support

Following on from a pilot project funded by the Pilgrim Trust in 2017 which was evaluated by Cardiff University, we now also offer bespoke one-to-one educational intervention for parents or family members.

“Our ‘Early Intervention Project’ for vulnerable or at-risk families takes referrals from statutory and non-statutory partners,” says Claire. “We work directly with family members, mostly face-to-face but also online and give families knowledge, skills, and confidence to keep children safe in the future, finishing with the co-development of a protective family safety plan.”

We also provide educational support for families whose child may be displaying harmful sexual behaviour or those with concerns about a family member’s involvement in viewing or distributing indecent images of children. “We work to provide families much needed education and emotional support, creating a space where they are free from judgement, and it has proved extremely helpful to them,” Claire concluded.

Securing our long-term future in Wales

Welsh Government funding is vital to help us sustain our services and maintain a presence in Wales. “We are delighted to continue to receive funding for both our projects from the Welsh Government, which really helps us make a big impact in the challenge of preventing child sexual abuse,” says Gill.

We look forward to working with our partners, supporting families, professionals and other organisations, as we aim for a future free from child sexual abuse.

Find out more

Stay tuned for the next in our series of blog posts, which talks about Claire and Gill’s personal experience developing our services and what it means to them to prevent child sexual abuse in Wales.

If you would like to talk to a member of team about any of LFF Wales’s services, email: wales@lucyfaithfull.org.uk.

Our partner pack has information about our services, training sessions as well as our resources and includes suggestions on how to promote and share this resource with your networks to help us keep children safe from harm. Our partner pack is also available in Welsh.

We help parents, carers, families, and communities know what they can do to keep children safe. Visit our supporting parents and carers section to learn more.

We also work with professionals, including local authorities, safeguarding boards, police, the Welsh government, and voluntary organisations. Visit our supporting practitioners section to learn more.

We rely on the public’s generosity to reach as many parents, carers, and professionals as possible to help protect children. Find out how to donate and how this supports our work.

Stay connected with our work in Wales on social media by following us on Twitter.

Learn more about our work across the UK by following our accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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