Extra funding for pan-Dorset Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Project

Due to the success of the pan-Dorset Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Project, which includes the NSPCC’s popular PANTS campaign, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Dorset has granted a significant extension of funding based on positive feedback on the achievements of the project in 2018.

As part of a year-long project, Bournemouth & Poole Local Safeguarding Children Board and Dorset Safeguarding Children Board have been focussed on raising awareness of, and improving responses to, child sexual abuse (CSA). 

Through targeted CSA briefing sessions, the project has sought to improve the confidence and capacity of the multi-agency workforce to respond to disclosures and provide effective support to children, young people and their families.  The project has also included work on developing data to better understand the scope and nature of CSA locally and the mapping of the services pathways available to support victims/survivors and their families.

To ensure maximum impact the LSBCs have partnered with the NSPCC to raise awareness and safeguard children from sexual abuse, using the PANTS resources and messaging developed and promoted by the children’s charity nationally. 

PANTS is a simple and fun way to ensure parents and professionals have important conversations with children about their bodies in an age-appropriate way.

It features Pantosaurus, an animated dinosaur, which helps parents with children aged eight and under to have important, age-appropriate, conversations about staying safe from sexual abuse, teaching children important messages, such as their “privates” are private.

Funding for the project and campaign was initially granted by the PCC in January 2018.  The additional funding agreed in January 2019 will fund work on the preliminary recommendations and findings from the project so far.  These include:

  • Bespoke training sessions for the multi-agency workforce on areas such as understanding the impact of trauma on victims and families as a result of CSA. These training sessions will be offered free of charge.
  • Additional free CSA briefing sessions for frontline practitioners and anyone involved with children in a safeguarding capacity; over 300 multi-agency practitioners have attended sessions so far. 
  • Further work on data and recording to understand and monitor the nature and scope of CSA cases across Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset to ensure responses are as effective as possible.
  • Investment in our “very own” Pantosaurus suit which can be used by local schools, early years providers and featured at local community events to attract and engage children and families with these important preventative messages.   

Martyn Underhill, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, said: “Child sexual abuse is something we all need to be aware of, and this work is going to help us have a better understanding of the extent of the problem across the county of Dorset, as well as providing a wider group of people with the knowledge of what to look out for and how to support young people and their families.

“Understanding how to talk to young children about the dangers posed by sexual abuse is something that many parents and carers struggle with, and the Pantosaurus campaign is a helpful way of opening up conversations and giving young people important messages about staying safe.”

Sarah Elliott, Independent Chair of the Bournemouth & Poole and Dorset Local Safeguarding Children Boards, said I am extremely grateful to the Police and Crime Commissioner for extending the funding for the CSA project which has already enabled hundreds of front line staff to develop their skills in talking to children, young people and their families about the sensitive issue of sexual abuse.  The extension of the funding will mean we can go even further in understanding and keeping children safe from sexual abuse across Dorset."

A Dorset Health Visitor, commented “The briefing session I attended was excellent and highlighted my need for extra training in this subject.  I am delighted to hear that training sessions will be offered on the back of feedback from the briefing sessions.”

The additional briefing sessions and training workshops are being offered free of charge in various locations across Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset. They will equip front line staff with key skills, knowledge and resources to be able to promote the PANTS preventative messages, respond effectively following any child sexual abuse disclosures by children and families and support them as they deal with longer term trauma.

The project will run until the end of March 2019.  Stakeholder Project Dissemination Events will be held at AFC Bournemouth and Kingston Maurward College on the 14th March.  The Keynote speaker and exhibitors at these events include:

Donald Findlater, Director at the Lucy Faithfull Foundation and Independent Consultant

The Truth Project, the National CSA Centre of Expertise (provisional), NSPCC, The Shores, Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Acts Fast, and Dorset Rape Crisis.

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