Every child who has experienced sexual abuse is affected differently but we know that for many it has a long term and damaging impact. Research shows that the impact can be reduced by a number of things, including effective and timely therapeutic support.
In a 2015 survey by the NSPCC, 98 per cent of professionals said there is a shortage of places available to children who have been abused. Gaps in provision of services for children and young people means that many will not receive the support they need to recover.
It is therefore vital that public services deliver, timely mental health support that is tailored to children’s needs. Guidelines such as those from NICE need to be widely available to help plan services and improve care provision. By using NICE, both commissioners and providers can be reassured that they would be putting into practice evidence-based advice from a trusted body.
However, we know that professionals in this field are extremely busy and their focus, quite rightly, is on their direct work with children. The quick guide by NICE is a summary of the more comprehensive guidelines that busy professionals can used as a quick reference tool. For those less familiar with therapeutic interventions, reading the quick guide is a helpful resource to learn more about what works to help children who have experienced abuse or neglect.
The NSPCC has developed Letting the Future In, an evidence-informed therapeutic intervention for children aged 4 to 17 who have experienced sexual abuse. The service helps children to move on from their past experiences through activities such as play, drawing, painting and storytelling; and offers parents and carers support to deal with the impact of sexual abuse and to help their children feel safe.
Letting the Future In was recommended by NICE in their 2017 guidelines on responding to child abuse and neglect. More recently, it featured in the NICE quick guide on therapeutic interventions after abuse and neglect. We see this as an important step in starting to fill the gap in the provision of therapeutic support services that can help children who have been abused.