A Culture Change that is Required at Very Senior Levels!

Hi all, I’m sure you have all seen the ongoing newspaper and media reports regarding the allegations and disclosures of footballers having being abused by sports coaches during the last few decades. 

Sports coaches abusing children in their care is not a new phenomenon, this has been going on for years across a different range of sports with elite athletes to children who play sports in their local communities becoming victims.  In recent years the sports of Swimming, Gymnastics have all had significant amounts of disclosures of abuse from elite athletes.

Perhaps the questions we should all ask ourselves is how has this happened right under our collective noses and how did we not see the warning signs? Part of the answer is the power of abusers to keep abuse a secret and as we have seen with the recent disclosures in the media, the influence that these coaches can have on future careers in sport and the way that sports bodies have covered up abusers for their own commercial benefit. 

As a boy I dreamt of playing in the FA Cup final for my beloved Derby County! alas I was never that good as a footballer so I was content to watch on the TV, however many young boys and girls are clearly skilled and talented at football and do have bright futures, even playing in the lower leagues is attractive and could lead to a big money move to a premier league club. With even more money available due to increased sponsorship and media deals and the game now at saturation levels on our televisions the lure of the professional game is more enticing to young footballers now. 

I would argue that even now there is not an open and honest philosophy within many sporting arenas and that corrupt mentalities and bowing to marketing demands and pressures leads people to make the wrong decisions sometimes to protect corporate branding. We have seen within the debacle of the recent FIFA financial scandals and drug use within athletics that the catalyst for change came from corporate sponsors who threatened to pull the plug on multi-million pound sponsorship deals unless individuals resigned. Adios Sepp Blatter et al! 

Are these same corporate pressures preventing individuals taking the right course of action to prevent child abuse and exploitation and are we confident that sports governing bodies actually do the right thing and potentially exposing themselves to critique and possible litigation?

If we cast our minds back not long ago to the Jimmy Savile disaster, how many newspaper editors, senior BBC executives, senior charity workers, NHS staff and significant numbers of well known and well thought of TV personalities knew that he was a serial abuser but continually failed to do the right thing on numerous occasions and how many so called celebrities have actually been held to account?

A significant change in culture is required at very high levels to ensure that these abuses do not happen again and that a transparent and open dialogue is clear and understood by all parties including parents and young athletes. Sport governing bodies and perhaps those who sell corporate sponsorship should now insist on a culture of openness and honesty and part of commercial sponsorship contracts should feature a clause that requires abusers to be reported immediately and the appropriate support for any athlete and their families effected by any form of abuse. The victims should be able to access to the right level of support including counselling or any other therapeutic input that may be identified. 

No more cover ups please. 

Voices for Truth and Dignity

Combatting sexual violence in European spoor through the voices of those affected

If you have been affected by sexual violence or abuse in the context of sport or physical education, we would like to hear from you.

If you are interested in sharing your story with the VOICE project please contact voice@dshs-koeln.de


@voicessport #voicesfortruthanddignity #VOICEeu

Kevin Murphy 

Education and Communities Lead 

NWG CSE Response Unit


Our thoughts on… The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse chaired by Alexis Jay

Each morning we scan the news to see what the latest articles around sexual exploitation have to say, and over the last few days and weeks we have seen many opinions about the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse chaired by Alexis Jay.

We first worked with Alexis during her inquiry in Rotherham. We found her to be very capable and experienced in reviewing practice, as her CV clearly demonstrates. She was honest and relentless in her pursuit of the truth. Her latest task is huge, and to many, daunting. But, if she is given the space and time needed to get on with the job, I have no doubt she will deliver what is needed to understand what happened in the past – and is happening now – and to better protect children in the future.

Our experience of working with Alexis is that she has no problem with being held to account. But she only took over the reigns of this inquiry three months ago and from all accounts inherited some serious challenges that need to be addressed. Yet it appears to me that every day there is another attack either from the media or those in the political world, which seeks to deflect from the important work being done.

Recent days have seen stories pouring out about alleged child sexual abuse within the world of football. According to the BBC the Independent Police Complaints Commission is handling 187 investigations into potential police failures in dealing with past child sexual abuse cases in England and Wales.  We know from our own work, how big an issue child sexual abuse is in our country.

So by all means hold Alexis and the inquiry to account, but surely she should be given a chance first, the breathing space to show what she can do. The report from Rotherham identified 1400 victims and full complex picture of abuse. One woman led that work, she succeeded in her task, let’s give her the opportunity to do so with this inquiry too.

Anyone who has experienced abuse through sport may also be interested in our research into the issue across Europe see our website for further information.

Sheila Taylor MBE CEO

NWG Network

24th November 2016

Autumn Round Up –  Online Safety for Parents, Including Nude Selfies, Sexting and the 02 Guru.

Following several high profile cases, I thought it would be useful to share with you some of the recent online safety resources which have been released over the last three months that may be beneficial for both parents and practitioners in keeping children safer online.  All of the resources highlight the need for parents to be informed and to feel confident in having conversations with their children about online safety. In a recent Internet Safety survey on sexting the majority of parents didn’t know about sexting or where to find out information about it. Only half of parents interviewed felt comfortable to discuss sexting with their child.

The question is, how do parents access these resources and feel confident in discussing online safety?  This is where the NWG is key by:

  • Building on the good work that is already happening
  • Working alongside parents/carers around online safety and where to go to find out more
  • Exploring what Child Sexual Exploitation is
  • What constitutes a healthy relationship?
  • Where parents can go to if they have concerns or need that extra support.


Hopefully these links may help parents start to have that conversation.


Nude Selfies What Parents and Carers Need to Know?

Using evidence based research, Thinkuknow has produced guidance material to accompany a series of four short animated films for parents and carers on nude selfies.  The videos cover young people’s motivation for taking nude selfies, explore and identify risks and behaviour and support parents to know where and how to report and get support.  The resource can help build parents confidence and skills to talk with their child about selfies.


ThinkUknow – Parents  – Romeo and Juliet Clip

Lots of information generally for parents around online safety.  New short animation based on Romeo and Juliet exploring online safety and having conversations with your child.


NSPCC – Online Safety Area Including the 02 Guru

Good information for parents including safety tips about parental controls, gaming online bullying etc. and what children are accessing.  NSPCC are working with 02 to answer questions on parental controls, speak with an 02 advisor and access their free training for parents on online safety which is currently being piloted across the UK.


NSPCC – Sexting: Keeping Children Safe

We’ve all heard of sexting but what does it actually mean for children and their parents?  NSPCC have a new online resource with lots of information for parents on how to talk with their child about sexting, why young people sext, the risks, the law, what to do if your child sends or receives an explicit image, where to report and where to go for support.



Confused by your Tumblrs, Tindr and Twitter? Netaware has up to date information for parents on the latest apps, social platforms that children are using.


Leicestershire Police – Factsheet for Parents and Trailer for Kayleighs Love Story Film

Ahead of its January launch, the link contains a factsheet for parents on online grooming and spotting the signs plus a trailer for the video.

Report: Parents Concerns for ‘Generation Internet’

A report from Agechecked (service that provides online age checks) highlights some of the anxieties parents face about online safety.  Interesting facts include one in six children being online before they are 3 years old and over a quarter using the Internet before they are of school age.  Conversely some children are not accessing the Internet until 10 years of age or older.  Is this parents being under/over protected in their approach to online safety?

Key findings are that education and conversations about online safety need to begin at an early age, the need for a joined up approach from site owners, government, technology companies and emerging media and communication services as well as schools and parents to effectively look at online safety.


And Finally a New Report: Parents Views of Sexting From Safer Internet

A new research highlight by the Evidence Group of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety has been published exploring parent’s perception & knowledge on sexting and where they would like to receive support.  Key findings included a lack of clarity by most parents on the law around sexting and that most had never received any information on sexting.  The majority of parents would seek help if they found out that their child had sent a sexual image to another young person and it had been shared on the internet but only half would feel confident knowing where to access support.  Half of the parents questioned did want to learn more about sexting and the most popular ways to do so were through their children’s school and online resources.  The interesting question to ask would be why the other half of parents didn’t want to learn about sexting and what were the barriers around this?  Parents also wanted information on healthy relationships and the pressures that young people may face; what young people think about sexting; and tips on how to start conversations about sexting.


We want to hear from you!!

I’m also really keen to hear about any resources / online materials that have been developed in your area for parents/carers around Child Sexual Exploitation that we can share across the network.

Coming soon: My next blog will be early December and will be a summary of the results from the survey that we asked practitioners to complete about how they work alongside parents in tackling Child Sexual Exploitation


Author: Maria Cassidy

NWG Network



Basis launch ‘Breaking Through’ a new animation…

I gratefully accepted an invitation to attend the launch of the Basis ‘Breaking Through’ resource in Leeds this week (03.11.16). The resource pack includes an animation highlighting Child Sexual Exploitation risks through one young persons’ story, as well as a booklet for young people with other young people’s experiences of Child Sexual Exploitation and a similar, but more detailed version for professionals.

One of the values of using animation instead of actors to highlight Child Sexual Exploitation is that it doesn’t link this type of child abuse to specific cultures, ethnicities or religions, which can be an unintended consequence of utilising actors from specific communities. The animation is beautifully crafted and shows a real depth and breadth of understanding in relation to Child Sexual Exploitation and the impact it has on children and young people’s lives. What is really impressive about the resource is that it demonstrates the positivity of hope and a ‘light and the end of the tunnel’ but doesn’t overlook the long and difficult journey young people face to escape from exploitative and abusive situations or relationships.

The event was extremely well attended on a slightly soggy afternoon in Leeds with representation from across professional sectors, as well as attendance from academics and commissioners and most importantly some of the young people involved in the production of the resources – it was particularly nice to hear from them and what they enjoyed about developing the resource.

Following the screening of the animation a Q&A session was held which sparked some extremely interesting discussions. Concerns were raised about the short-term funding cycles which most voluntary sector organisations have to apply to just to keep their heads above water. The audience and panel felt that these were not suitable for the long-term work involved in supporting children and young people affected by Child Sexual Exploitation – workers can often barely have begun to unpick some of the complex issues involved in 12 months.

Victim blaming and labelling was also discussed – the animation ends with the young person explaining why they don’t like being referred to as either a victim or a survivor. In response to a question I suggested a public health approach to tackling Child Sexual Exploitation may be the best way of addressing societal views about those affected by Child Sexual Exploitation – others agreed that a new approach was needed to shift opinion and prevent further victim blaming.

Perhaps the most powerful question was saved till last…                               

when one of the young people involved in the production of the animation asked whether we should be using the resources to work with perpetrators. It was an incredibly astute question which highlights an area of work which has been under-resourced and overlooked. Working with perpetrators or potential abusers is a challenging area of work, not least due to attitudes towards those who work with offenders. This isn’t about being apologists for abusers but is another way of preventing abuse and protecting vulnerable young people.

If you’re interested in accessing the resources, then please get in touch with Basis via their website http://basisyorkshire.org.uk/ or on 0113 243 0036

Phil Ashford

CSE Response Unit Operational Lead


NHS England Child Sexual Exploitation

Following a number of publications regarding Child Sexual Exploitation it is clear that all health services and staff have a significant contribution to make in identifying children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation and supporting the treatment and recovery of those harmed.  

This difficult and emotive subject is rightly a national priority for all health professionals and agencies.

The publication of the Department of Health Working Group Report (2014); Jay Report (2014) and Medical Colleges Report (2014), all highlight the role of health services and are welcomed. Their recommendations complement a range of positive work and actions currently in place and they are clear regarding the specific responsibilities for health services and staff.

In response to these reports, NHS England established a Child Sexual Exploitation Health Sub-Group.  This sub-group is accountable to NHS England’s National Safeguarding Group and membership consists of representatives from across health agencies including Designated Safeguarding Children Professionals; Health & Justice; Care Quality Commission; Public Health England; NWG (National Working Group).

The group is chaired by Lisa Cooper, Deputy Director Quality & Safeguarding, NHS England North.

Within its terms of reference and work plan the sub-group ensures that the actions relating to NHS England arising from these reports are fully implemented. The Group also provides national leadership, support and advice in relation to Child Sexual Exploitation.

It is also vital that we continue to listen to the voice of children and young people so as to learn from their experiences and improve the services we provide.  Their voice is crucial in identifying those at risk of sexual exploitation and stopping this form of abuse.  The work plan of the sub-group during 2016/17 will focus on ensuring the voices of children and young people are central in all health services they may access.

Useful resources developed by the sub-group in partnership with other health agencies include:

·        Health professionals pocket guide

·        Health Education England video http://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/child-sexual-exploitation/

·        Department of Health Seen and Heard Campaign http://seenandheard.org.uk/

28th October 2016

Lisa Cooper

Deputy Director Quality & Safeguarding (Cheshire & Merseyside)

Regional Lead Safeguarding (NHS England North)

Challenging Behaviour…Really! Looking beyond the behaviour and lose the word “challenging”

Hi folks, I came across this YouTube video over the weekend and it really resonated with me. (https://youtu.be/zuoPZkFcLVs) I received the link to the video from Dr Bruce Perry who I do follow on social media and is a specialist in the field of neuroscience and trauma, I would really recommend his book “The boy who was raised as a dog”.

On Friday 16th September I was very fortunate to be able to attend a seminar delivered by Jonny Matthew at the NWG Office in Derby. The seminar was for youth justice intervention for professionals, but what struck me was the link between anxious behaviour exhibited by young people in the youth justice system and some of our young people who have been victims of trauma and serious child sexual exploitation.

In this video J Stuart Albon talks about how children will do well if they can, this phrase was originally coined by Dr Ross Green and this video talks a bit more about how we can all look at anxious behaviour through a different lens. In the school world if a child is struggling academically they are sometimes given labels such a learning difficulties and can access different levels of support, however if a child is struggling with anxiety or experiencing difficult emotions and displays anxiety based behaviour they are then labelled as having challenging behaviour, this effects the way adults view children and the label “challenging behaviour” in my view is always seen in a very negative and sometimes derogatory way.

Within the Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice 0-25 years (by the way which is statutory guidance) when we are looking at getting support for children at school who are struggling with learning we look at four domains, sensory and physical needs, cognition, communication and more importantly social, emotional and mental health. We really need to add anxiety and emotional behaviour to the list of “learning difficulties” in order to get our children and young people the right support at the right time and view them as other children with specific needs and please do away with the label of challenging behaviour!

Please do click on the link below to view the YouTube video and then take time to reflect on the video and question the attitudes of professionals about how they view our children and remember “children will do well if they can”


Kev Murphy

Education and Community Lead

CSE Response Unit

NWG Network.


Children Back to School


The new school year has started and once again the road are choked with parents taking their children back to school, the morning respite of light traffic during the summer holiday period is finally over.

However during the long six week holiday how many of our children have been” chatting” to their many so called on-line “friends” that they have never met and how has this effected their behaviour. Schools have such an important role to play in families lives primarily in “teaching” our children but they also have a legal duty to safeguard their pupils and promote their well being ( Section 175 Education Act 2002, this legislation applies to all schools & PRU’s, free schools, academies and the independent sector). With the onset of the new academic year they must be vigilant to those pupils who have not returned to school from their summer holidays or are absent during the school week. There could be a variety of reasons as to why some children do not return to school following the summer break, such as taking advantage of the confusion that currently prevails within the term time holiday legislation following a recent High Court appeal by a parent who appealed against a prosecution for taking his daughter out of school during term time for a holiday. We also know from many previous concerns that some children have been taken to South East Asian countries during the six week break for a “forced marriage”, this has been highlighted by Jaswinder Sanghera from the charity also based in Derby called Karma Nirvana. Another reason could be that a child has been groomed on-line during the summer holiday period and has been isolated from their support networks, this is classic grooming behaviour which often leads to exploitation and school staff need to be alert to such behaviours so the necessary interventions can take place. School staff also need to be aware of changing behaviours at school such as a lack of interest in school work, this may not have been the case during the last academic term and as such doers represent change that does require an explanation ! differences in presentation, isolation from friends and peers and also they need to listen to the child’s friends and peers who may be concerned about their friends behaviour and attitude.

The Department for Education have just released their latest guidance for schools regarding children missing from education , it can be found on the following link below; https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/550416/Children_Missing_Education_-_statutory_guidance.pdf

Its worth reading this statutory guidance although its not a bed time read! We are all well aware that some schools are happy for certain children not to attend or persuade them and their parents that it is in their best interest to request to be taken off roll. The guidance is quite clear in what circumstances children maybe removed from a school roll ( Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 section 8) and the investigations that need to take place before a child can lawfully be removed from school roll. It is therefore imperative that parents and professionals are aware of this guidance and the duties that schools have with regard to reporting absences and also removal from school rolls.

Children are required to attend an efficient full time education for 190 days during the year, if children are not in school and are ” invisible” who can protect them. Schools have a legal duty to report unexplained absences and make the necessary enquires to ascertain why children are not attending and then to take the appropriate action to support missing pupils back into school, parents also have a legal duty and moral obligation to ensure that their children attend school on a regular and punctual basis.

I will write another blog next week regarding children who are “home educated” as I am aware that this is a subject that causes at lot of professionals significant anxieties and has recently been a featured in a SCR in Wales following the death of a child who was not in education.

Kevin Murphy

Education and Communities Lead

CSE Response Unit

The National Working Group.

01332 585371