Getting the right support early is vital if children are to recover from abuse

Government must increase the number of vital services that can help children move forward towards the future they deserve, writes Peter Wanless

Abi's diary - It's Time campaign NSPCCChildren who have been through the horror of abuse often feel trapped by their own disturbing thoughts, emotions and memories as they relive the crimes perpetrated against them – commonly by someone they knew, loved or trusted. Some describe these thoughts as like being in a prison – with no way out. We hear from children like this every day, through ChildLine and our other services.

More and more abused children are telling us about the problems they experience accessing therapy that can help them.

A wide range of barriers, including rigid therapy acceptance criteria, lack of local services and cruelly long waiting times, stand in the way. Often it is only when children reach rock bottom, perhaps self-harming or even after a suicide attempt that the services they need so desperately open up to them.

Other children struggle as best they can through the remaining years of childhood, find unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs, and see the impact of their abuse infect other aspects of their lives, their education, their employment, their relationships.

It doesn't need to be that way and we know that children's lives can be turned around with the right support, if only they have the chance.

We have a choice about how a child's life is shaped after abuse. Don't these children deserve better? The NSPCC offers services and as much help to as many children as we can, but we sadly cannot be everywhere.

We have launched a major new campaign - It's Time, which is calling on government and local agencies to increase the number of vital services that can help children move forward towards the future they deserve. In the coming months and for as long as it takes we will be campaigning loudly on behalf of this most vulnerable and often forgotten group of children.

Without access to proper therapy where it is needed, a lifetime of damage can be caused

For those affected by abuse, speaking out is the bravest decision of their lives but stopping it happening is only one step on a difficult and painful journey.

Getting the right support early to deal with underlying emotional and psychological pain is vital. Without access to proper therapy where it is needed, a lifetime of damage can be caused and can snowball into post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or suicidal thoughts in later life.

Recent years have seen society rocked by a series of major child abuse scandals, of children immeasurably failed by those charged with their protection. With recorded sexual offences against children now at record levels, and an estimated half a million children affected, the need for therapeutic services has never been more urgent or essential. We cannot expect children to speak out if we then fail to provide the support they need.

Many will be shocked to learn that there is no immediate entitlement to readily available help for these children. Is there a more important or more deserving group of young people than those who have survived such abuse?

We need as many people as possible to get behind us in our campaign – as we ask the Government and commissioners of services to prioritise therapeutic support for children who are living through the appalling legacy of abuse. To support us, ask your MP to raise the issue with Rt Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health. It's time to stand up on behalf of young people who have been abused.

Thank you.

More about It's Time

96% say support for children after abuse "inadequate"

We're launching a new campaign, It’s time, to demand that every child receives essential support they need after abuse.
Read more about our survey

It’s Time: campaign report

Why we’re campaigning for every child who has experienced abuse to receive the support they need.
Find out more