The barriers to reporting child abuse

January 17, 2013, 11:24 AM GMT+0

YouGov research for the NSPCC reveals that fewer than one in five UK adults (17%) would report their suspicions of child sexual abuse straight away, even if they had significant doubts.

A majority of people (58%) are not confident they could spot the signs of sexual abuse in a child they knew, while less than a third (31%) are confident they could spot if the abuse was taking place. Fewer than one in ten people (9%) have had concerns that a child they knew was being sexually abused with 85% of people saying they have not. Of those who have had concerns, more than two thirds (69%) took action while three in ten (30%) either didn’t take action, or haven’t but still intend to.

The survey found that a plurality of people (28%) would be most likely to report sexual abuse concerns about a child they knew if they had enough evidence to be very sure that it was taking place. More than one in five (21%) would report suspicions if they thought a child was probably being abused, 19% would report if they had a few concerns that a child was being sexually abused and 8% would be most likely to report when they were completely certain that abuse was taking place.

Reporting fears

The majority (59%) of people said they might be stopped from reporting suspicions of abuse because of fears they were wrong. Almost four in ten (39%) would be worried it might make it worse for the child, one in six (17%) have concerns they would split up the child’s family while the same number (17%) worry about the repercussions for the accused. 15% might be put off reporting suspicions over fears about repercussions on for them personally and the same proportion (15%) might hold off because they are unsure what happens next.

See the full poll results here

What should be done

In separate survey, YouGov also asked on behalf of NSPCC what important things can be done to tackle child abuse in general, in light of recent media reports around the issue. Almost three quarters (74%) say that children should be encouraged to speak out if they are being abused, two thirds (67%) want tougher sentences for sex offenders and more than six in ten (63%) say promoting ways people can get help when they’re worried about a child is important. 59% want more support for the victims and the same number (59%) think it’s important to encourage adults to take more responsibility for reporting suspected abuse.

See the full poll results here