EMBARGO 00:01am November 27, 2014
The campaign by Ann Coffey MP to make child sexual abuse and exploitation a Public Health priority has taken a big step forward.
Ms Coffey raised the issue in the Commons following her recent report: ‘Real Voices – Child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester’ – which recommended that child sexual exploitation should be declared a priority Public Health issue, like smoking, obesity, alcohol and drug use.
Ms Coffey received a positive response from Jane Ellison, the Public Health minister, who told MPs during health questions:
“The Honourable Lady is quite right to say that those are incredibly important issues, and we do see this as an important public health issue. We are committed to tackling child sexual abuse. We are taking this very seriously.”
Ms Coffey told MPs that the trauma of sexual abuse can have massive, life-long consequences on the physical and mental health of victims.
In her report she outlined figures from Public Health England, which showed that around one in ten young people under 18 being treated for drug and alcohol problems in three key Greater Manchester boroughs- Rochdale, Oldham and Stockport- had disclosed that they are sexual abuse victims.
She also highlighted a moving letter from a man who joined the HMP Risley Survivors Group who said that the sexual abuse he suffered as a child had affected his health and shaped his whole life.
He said: “I am a survivor of sexual abuse. It happened when I was 11 years old. It made me lash out – criminal damage, theft and expulsion from school. I started carrying weapons for my protection. I turned to drugs to escape my low self-esteem and everyday problems of normal life. I have been an alcoholic and street homeless for many years.”
Ms Coffey said: “I am very pleased with the ministers’ response. The government accepts that sexually exploited children and young people are likely to come into contact with health services for a variety of reasons, so there is much that the health services can do to help identify, engage and help them.”
Ms Ellison told the Commons that the Department of Health had published its response to the independent health working group report on child sexual exploitation in May and had accepted its recommendations in full.
The Department response stressed the important role Directors of Public Health can have in tackling child sexual exploitation and commissioning health and social care services for children and young people aged 0 to 19 years. It also said it had commissioned a digital tool for health services staff and professionals to help identify child sexual exploitation and what to do to signpost and support victims.
In the Real Voices report, commissioned by Tony Lloyd, the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner, Ms Coffey said that sexual health services play a key role in identifying children and young people at risk of child sexual exploitation and can also track who is bringing a girl into a clinic, for example an older man. Repeat sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy and terminations can also be a sign of CSE.
UPDATE 01/12/14: You may be interested in these two short films From ITV Granada:
News report: : http://vimeo.com/113033356
Ann Coffey MP interviewed for Granada Tonight: http://vimeo.com/113034565
Note to Editors:
Link to Real Voices report – See health chapter – http://anncoffeymp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Real-Voices-Final.pdf
Tuesday November 25, 2014
T5.  Ann Coffey (Stockport) (Lab): Recent reports indicate that the extent of child sexual exploitation and abuse is more widespread than previously recognised. The trauma of sexual abuse can have massive, life-long consequences on the physical and mental health of victims. Will Ministers consider designating child abuse and child sexual exploitation as a public health priority in the same way as smoking, alcohol, drug use and obesity?
Jane Ellison: The hon. Lady is quite right to say that those are incredibly important issues, and we do see this as an important public health issue. We are committed to tackling child sexual abuse. In May the Department published its response to the recommendations of the independent health working group report on child sexual exploitation and we accepted the recommendations in full. We are taking this very seriously.