'It's Vital We Reduce Risk of Sexual Exploitation to Children' SPECIALIST SOCIAL WORKERS TELL OF HOW THE Y TRY TO TACKLE THE VULNERABILITY OF CHILDREN TO SEXUAL ABUSE, AND ALSO TO HELP ITS VICTIMS REBUILD THEIR LIVES

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), February 19, 2018 | Go to article overview

'It's Vital We Reduce Risk of Sexual Exploitation to Children' SPECIALIST SOCIAL WORKERS TELL OF HOW THE Y TRY TO TACKLE THE VULNERABILITY OF CHILDREN TO SEXUAL ABUSE, AND ALSO TO HELP ITS VICTIMS REBUILD THEIR LIVES


Byline: KELLY WILLIAMS Daily Post Chief Reporter kelly.williams@trinitymirror.com

HARROWING tales of sexual abuse coming from children as young as four are heard on a daily basis by specialist social workers Liz Faire and Claire Smith.

The pair are part of a specialised team at the NSPCC service centre in Prestatyn, who try and help youngsters through their traumatic ordeals and get them back to some kind of normality.

From specially designed therapeutic rooms, staff offer two programmes which run across North Wales; Letting the Future In, for child victims of sexual abuse, and Protect and Respect, which supports young people who are at risk of being sexually exploited.

The programmes are very different, but in both cases the emotions are the same for the child - anger, frustration, guilt, shame and fear. Some even show signs of PTSD.

Liz Faire, who has worked for the charity for over a year explained how the Letting the Future in service works, and how they use messy play, writing, storytelling and art to help children aged four to 11 express feelings they can't put into words. "Play is a natural way for children to express themselves," she said.

"They can safely work through past experiences and come to understand and move on from what has happened.

"We start by meeting for weekly sessions to get an understanding of the child's needs.

"Over time they will get to know us and begin to open up about their feelings. It can take up to a year before they are ready to move on.

"We also talk to their parents or carers to help the whole family. Parents and carers of children who have been sexually abused can play a really important role in helping their child recover. They are offered some individual support and some joint sessions with the child."

Liz, who is one of the Welsh-speaking social workers within the team, said intervention work is based around each child's emotional wellbeing and coping strategies. But her first priority is to gain their trust.

"Initially, the child needs to get to know me as an individual as much as I need to get to know them," she said.

"Only then we can work on finding their strengths, what they find difficult, their different coping styles, how they manage situations and relationships with parents, carers or siblings at home and if they struggle with their sleeping pattern, so we can try and support that as much as we can.

"When they come here, they are in an environment where they can feel safe and happy.

"A lot of them have experienced very traumatic events so it's about trying to help them move on and deal with what they've experienced and learn how they can come to terms with it."

The Prestatyn NSPCC centre is equipped with therapy and sensory rooms - safe spaces chosen by children to allow them to talk about what has happened.

Dolls houses, sand pits, toys and plastic figurines in each one are a way through which each child can try to communicate through play.

Their conversations with practitioners don't leave the room.

The end goal is that practitioners for child and parent will bring the family group together, eventually, to talk through their feelings.

Social worker, Claire Smith spoke about the charity's other service, Protect and Respect, which is aimed at youngsters aged 11 to 17 who have been or at risk of being sexually exploited. …

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