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In June 2014 an independent evaluation of the Stop It Now! 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 synthesised and 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.