The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre calls for a Nationwide Public Awareness Campaign concerning Sexual Abuse, in the wake of the Ferns Report

Friday, November 11th, 2005

In the last number of weeks since the publication of the Ferns Report, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has experienced a significant increase in the number of calls it has received regarding clerical sexual abuse. Increases of up to 75% of regular call levels were experienced. This dramatic response by the public comes as no surprise to the DRCC.

In 2002, when the DRCC published the SAVI Report, the research showed that most sexual abuse occurred in the pre-pubescent period with two thirds (67%) of abused girls and 62% of abused boys having experienced abuse by twelve years of age. 47% of those who took part in the research, who had experienced sexual abuse, had never disclosed or reported their abuse to anyone.

The SAVI Report recommended that a Public Awareness Campaign was needed about the startling prevalence of sexual violence, and that information on existing services should be made widely available and that barriers to disclosure should be removed.

The SAVI Report showed for the first time the extraordinary levels of hurt from childhood sexual abuse, experienced by men and women in Ireland. The Ferns Report has reiterated that hurt and the glaring need for education and public awareness concerning the issuesof sexual abuse and violence. The first recommendation of the Ferns Report is that “the Department of Health and Children should launch and repeat from time to time a nationwide campaign in relation to child sexual abuse.”

The DRCC welcomes and supports this recommendation. Over the last 20 years, the DRCC has provided education and training programmes in relation to the issues of sexual abuse and rape to voluntary and professional agencies, emphasising child protection guidelines and procedures.

When the SAVI Report correctly identified as far back as 2002 the need for a public awareness campaign regarding issues of child sexual abuse, and information regarding relevant services, the DRCC asks: “Why has there been no concerted effort by the Government to implement the recommendations of the SAVI Report”? Following the Ferns Report, it is clear that a proactive campaign of awareness raising, information giving and education concerning these issues should be a priority.

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