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Context and issues

Advocacy Standard 17 “Child and non-offender family support”, as well as this website is targeted at professionals working in the sexual assault field and presumes knowledge and skills of working with children and in particular, child sexual abuse. This includes those who work primarily with adults as adults often have children. Resource links are provided below for those who would like to brush up or extend their knowledge in this area.

Advocacy for children and their parent/caregivers can be challenging as children’s wishes can conflict with best interests, parent/caregivers’ wishes and views of child protection workers.  Furthermore it’s often easier to do things for children rather than with them.  Working with children across the age and development spectrum require a range of resources, approaches and an awareness of the child or young person’s ability/inability to give informed consent.

The very high incidence of historical child sexual abuse means that service providers and parent/caregivers may be triggered by child sexual abuse experiences of their own.

Child sexual abuse resource links

Below are generic child sexual abuse and related resource links:

Advocacy for children and their non-offending family revolves around:

  • Ensuring children’s voices are heard and included in decision making (child informed decision making)
  • Managing ‘best interests’, children’s wishes and parent/caregiver’s wishes
  • Supporting and including children and young people throughout processes in a developmentally appropriate way taking care their level of involvement is consistent with their needs
  • Knowing and being guided by UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and advocate for these rights if they are not being met
  • Assisting parent/caregivers to explain relevant rights to their child/ren.  This is important as part of enhancing protective behaviours. Many child friendly resources link responsibilities with rights which can often make it easier for parents to discuss with their children
  • While advocates may do most of their work with parent/caregivers, the sexually assaulted child is their primary client.  If the needs of the parents are complex and conflict with the wishes and needs of children, it may be necessary to refer the parent/caregivers to another advocate
  • Consent procedures such as criteria to determine the ability of mature minors to give consent to procedures and release of information including involvement of their non-offender parent/caregivers, should be thoughtfully implemented
  • Role boundaries with child protection workers need to be clear.  While the advocate role does not include investigation, children and parents sometimes disclose information which may assist investigations. Mandatory reporting, safety issues and consent to report need to be considered in these instances (click here for more on disclosure)
  • Mandatory reporting  legislation and procedures should be known and explained to parents and young people and where appropriate, to children

Contact Us

Contact Details

Contact
Amanda Paton

Phone Number
08 9391 1900

Email
apaton@parkerville.org.au

Implications for the advocacy role

Watch the video of child advocate Lisa McAneny talking about her role in ensuring the voice of the child is heard, especially when the child’s wishes are often very different from those of their parents.  Lisa also talks about protective behaviours.

Watch the video of parents talking about some early support and intervention from Lisa.  Some key features include empowering the parents and family by providing something constructive they could do together, as a family while they were waiting for legal and other process to progress.  In addition, the processes Lisa used in the session were empowering and therapeutic in their own right.

  • Management of own trauma history (particularly if this includes child sexual abuse), is important for the advocate’s wellbeing as well as to provide psychological independence in the role of advocate
  • Non-offender parent/caregiver disclosure of their own current sexual abuse and/or family or domestic violence or possible neglect issues, requires the advocate to priorities the safety needs of the children whilst also facilitating service provision for the parent/caregiver
  • Siblings may also supports and for their voices to be heard.

See below for more generic child sexual abuse and related resource links.

Parent/caregiver information

Caring for Kids: What Parents Need to Know about Sexual Abuse : 58 pages. A collection of 10 fact sheets on child sexual abuse topics (see below).

From the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Child Sexual Abuse Committee. (2009). Los Angeles, CA & Durham, NC: National Center for Child Traumatic Stress.

Contents of this Resource include:

  • Child Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet:
    For Parents, Teachers, and Other Caregivers
  • Question & Answers about Child Sexual Abuse:
    An Interview with Esther Deblinger, PhD
  • What to Do If Your Child Discloses Sexual Abuse:
    Information for Parents and Caregivers
  • Coping with the Shock of Intrafamilial Abuse
  • Acquaintance Rape:
    Information for Parents
  • Preventing Acquaintance Rape:
    A Safety Guide For Teens
  • What Do I Do Now?
    A Survival Guide for Victims of Acquaintance Rape
  • Sexual Development and Behaviour in Children:
    Information for Parents and Caregivers
  • Understanding and Coping with Sexual Behaviour Problems in Children:
    Information for Parents and Caregivers
  • Child Sexual Abuse:
    Coping with the Emotional Stress of the Legal System

Webs for Youth

Headspace Broadbased mental health social and other services and supports

Kids Helpline Children and young people

Somazone Ask questions, tell stories, get advoce on many areas

Webs for Children

While this website was produced to assist professionals who may be working with children, it wasn’t produced specifically FOR children. Fortunately, other webs were.

See below for a selection of web sites produced for children. Some may also be useful for professionals and adults supporting children through difficult times;

  • Sit with the child as they explore these webs
  • Learn what’s in the webs and reinforce suggested behaviours and strategies
  • Read the sections designed for parents/caregivers.

Please consider cyber safety when directing a child to use the Internet. It is a NET and one thing can and does sometimes lead to another.

Click here to go to the SECASA web for young people (pre-teen to teenager).

Click here to go to the Resilient Kids website. Parents/carers should be advised to use this children’s web in conjunction with the Resilience Resource Web developed for parents/carers. Produced by the Mental Health Foundation of Australia.

Click here for Reach Out Australia. Ages 14 to 25. Information and help about tough times and Mental Health issues such as depression, suicide, anxiety and eating disorder.

Click here for the Kids Helpline website. Australian national, free helpline for children. This web targets 5 years to 25 years old by using one section for younger children and the other for Teens and Young Adults. The web provides a range of youth options beyond their call service including web chat counselling and email counselling.

Some subject headings from Reach Out, Australia:

Standard

  • Click here for Standard 17 – Child and non-offender familysupport “Advocacy Standards for working with Children, Young People and Adults who have Experienced Sexual Violence” (Australian)

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