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The Stop It Now! UK and Ireland helpline has been operating since 2002 and we have published several reports during this time. Since the first report was published, the need for this unique resource has been confirmed, both by an increase in calls and emails and by how callers value the service it provides.
Our helpline reports demonstrate that:
- some people who have sexually abused a child want help to manage their behaviour. Others, who have not offended, recognise their thoughts about and behaviour towards children as potentially harmful and seek help to manage these
- some adults are able to recognise inappropriate sexual behaviours and attitudes in family members and friends and will seek help and support in holding them accountable, whilst protecting children
- some adults are able to recognise inappropriate or harmful sexual behaviour in children and young people and will seek help to address this behaviour
- where a sexual offence may have been committed or a child may be at risk, anxiety about repercussions, for themselves and for their loved ones, causes many people not to report concerns or seek help from statutory child protection agencies
- the internet has become a major vehicle for harmful behaviour by adults, but it is also a place where some offenders and those close to them will seek help to ensure responsible online behaviour in the future.
With accurate information and support, adults can help prevent child sexual abuse within their family and the wider community.
Helpline report: Covid-19 impact
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on all areas of our lives. We analysed call records between 1 April and 3 September 2020 to assess the impact of Covid-19 on our callers and produced a report.
- Of the 111 callers identified who mentioned Covid-19, 79% were calling with concerns about their own sexual thoughts or behaviour towards children; 15% were calling about someone else’s concerning behaviour; 4% were professionals seeking advice or support; and 2% were calling about a general internet concern.
- For some, the impact was felt in provoking illegal behaviour that had not previously existed or that they felt was being managed. For others, the impact came from stressful circumstances around their arrest and engagement with the criminal justice system. For others, the impact was from an absence or lack of responsiveness from support services. It is natural for people to look for excuses, normally beyond themselves, for poor behaviour or circumstances.
- Covid-19 has had a range of impacts on the whole population and is not any excuse for child abuse or other illegal behaviour. However, in understanding how different individuals have variously struggled over these six months of Covid-19, we are more likely to fashion and implement effective responses that can assist in coping better. More than that, we can help develop and implement strategies that mean the illegal behaviour is avoided in the first place.
The report contains an analysis of these calls and case studies. Download the full report here.
Stop It Now! helpline evaluation
In June 2014 an independent evaluation of the Stop It Now! UK and Ireland helpline, conducted by specialist researchers from NatCen Social Research, was published.
The report has been described as ‘overwhelmingly positive’ with findings showing that the helpline provides a valuable contribution to tackling child sexual abuse by helping people who have sexual thoughts, feelings and behaviour towards children manage their behaviour, and by assisting all callers to be informed about how to protect children and young people from risk of harm.
Currently, in Europe two Stop It Now! programmes are in operation, one in the UK, which has been run by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation since 2002, and one that was launched in the Netherlands, by de Waag, in April 2012. The evaluation examined both helpline’s and aimed to support the prevention of child sexual abuse across Europe by:
- assessing the implementation of these programmes, focusing on their helpline (delivered by telephone and email)
- exploring the potential of the programme for affecting behaviour change among child sexual abusers and potential abusers
- providing an economic analysis of the Stop It Now! helpline
- providing a model for developing and implementing similar helpline services in other European countries
Background and summary findings
The evaluation was commissioned to assess whether and how the helpline contributes to the Stop It Now! aim of tackling child sexual abuse.
Researchers conducted the evaluation which involved gathering users’ views through interviews, focus groups and questionnaires.
The research affirmed that the helpline engages a range of users, and is valued, whether people are concerned about a child’s welfare, the risk posed by someone else, or their own risk to children.
Study participants who had offended could report feeling more in control of their sexual thoughts and behaviour after using the helpline. Positive change was also reported in areas identified as protecting against re-offending, such as:- improving emotional and psychological well-being; addressing beliefs that can facilitate and maintain sexually abusive behaviour; strengthening motivation to desist; reducing the risk of social isolation; and increasing engagement in fulfilling and productive activities.
Participants who were concerned about another person reported feeling reassured about their ability to protect children, and appreciated the guidance about strategies.
Toolkit for others wanting to start a helpline such as Stop It Now!
The findings from the research were used to develop a toolkit outlining how similar programmes could be implemented elsewhere in the EU. The toolkit was also tested with other project partners in Germany and Finland. If you are interested in running a helpline such as Stop It Now!, feel free to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project funders and delivery team
It is a European Commission co-funded project, under Daphne III, and is being led by NatCen Social Research’s Crime and Justice Team, in partnership with Stop It Now! UK, de Waag/Stop It Now! the Netherlands, Prevention Project Dunkelfeld, Germany, and Save the Children, Finland.
Stop It Now! helpline report: 2002-2012
Our last big report covers the operation of the helpline and the work of the campaign over a ten year period: 2002-2012.
In part one you will find statistics, case studies and information relating to the thousands of people the helpline has assisted over the years. In part two you will read about the work of the Stop It Now! campaign and how it helped hundreds of thousands of people in communities across the UK.