Sexual abuse and therapeutic services for children in Northern Ireland: the gap between provision and need Research mapping availability and accessibility of services

Boy in gardenChildhood sexual abuse is linked to short- and long-term consequences including mental health problems. Therapeutic services aim to improve outcomes for sexually abused children by reducing the negative impact of the abuse. There is no national picture of what services exist or whether they are meeting local need.

This research, funded by the Private Equity Foundation, mapped the availability of therapeutic services that support children and young people affected by sexual abuse across the Northern Ireland.

The report includes findings from interviews with service providers and commissioners. It identifies a number of issues for further consideration.

Authors: Lisa Bunting, Paulene Anderson and Debbie Allnock
Published: 2010

  • Specialist provision did not cover all geographical regions in Northern Ireland.
  • Over 70 per cent of managers and practitioners reported that they were unable to meet the demand for their service.
  • Services made use of a wide range of therapeutic models and methods, depending on the age and needs of the child. The most common models were cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), creative therapies and family therapy.
  • Almost all services reported routinely working with other services to deliver therapeutic support.
  • Almost all services commented on gaps or limitations in either their own service or provision in the wider catchment areas. People talked about the need for:
    • more services
    • more funding and staffing
    • more specialist training
    • better joined-up working and planning
    • and the development of services for families/carers.
List of figures 4
List of tables 5
Section 1: Introduction 6
Section 2: Policy and service framework in Northern Ireland 8
Section 3: Methodology 17
Section 4: Findings 21
Section 5: Summary of key findings 61
Section 6: Discussion 65
Section 7: Key gaps and recommendations 73
Section 8: References 76

Please cite as: Bunting, L., Anderson, P. and Allnock, D. (2010) Sexual abuse and therapeutic services for children and young people in Northern Ireland: the gap between provision and need. London: NSPCC. 

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