Adults concerned about a child or young person who may have been abused

Stop It Now! helpline call example: Richard

Richard called the helpline because he was concerned about the behaviour of his six-year-old daughter, Clare. Several times, Richard had found Claire touching her vagina and on one occasion attempting to insert a pencil into it. Richard had tried to speak gently to Clare about this and asked whether anyone else had ever touched her in this way before. Claire said that her nine-year-old cousin, Paul had done so.

Richard had felt uncomfortable about Paul’s behaviour for some time, as he spent so much time with younger children and seemed overly affectionate with them. The touching had taken place at Paul’s house when the family was visiting.

Richard spoke with Denise, Paul’s mother, and when she asked Paul about what Clare had said, he became very upset and denied the accusation. Richard was concerned about the other children in the large extended family, as well as the impact of Paul’s alleged behaviour on Clare.

Discussion and advice following Richard’s call with the helpline:

  • We commended Richard for calling the helpline and not hoping that the issues would just ‘go away’.
  • We discussed the importance of agreeing and putting in place immediate child protection measures. This would mean involving as many adults in the family as necessary.
  • Richard reassured Clare that she had done nothing wrong and he was pleased that she had told him what had happened.
  • When speaking with Paul, it is important to remember he is a child. Richard must talk to him in a firm but kind manner to understand why he had behaved this way, especially as he might be experiencing inappropriate behaviour from another source.
  • We suggested that Denise could call the helpline for advice and support.
  • Advised that Richard should visit his GP
  • Look into contacting Children’s Services.

Actions agreed with Richard:

  • Discuss with Denise how to implement immediate child protection measures, and that Paul should not be alone with younger children.
  • Discuss options, including talking to Children’s Services with the rest of the family.
  • Give the helpline number to Paul’s parents and any other family members. Richard allowed Denise to hear his calls.
  • Call the helpline next week to review progress and to discuss the next steps.

The outcome of the call to the helpline:

  • Richard called the helpline back, as did Paul’s mother. We were able to provide ongoing support and advice to both, via our child’s specialist practitioners.
  • This included information about child protection, age-appropriate sexual behaviour and how to give consistent messages about things like ‘good touch, bad touch’.
  • When Richard last called, the family were unsure if they should involve Children’s Services, concerned it would do more harm than good.
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