Today I launched www.Dare2Care.org.uk, a campaign that aims to ensure every child is safe from abuse and that the normalisation of violence in young people’s relationships is challenged.
After being elected in 2012 I saw very clearly the effects that abuse can have on a person’s life. In Rotherham, dealing with this first-hand had a profound effect on me. I have taken it upon myself to do my best to address this problem, not only for the people in my constituency in Rotherham, but for those across the country who need protecting.
I worked with the charity Barnardo’s in running a parliamentary inquiry which made a series recommendations. These included: changing the law around grooming to make sure the police can prosecute on the first occasion a child is approached for sex (as it stood, they had to wait until the second contact), changing the training given to judges and guidance to juries and most significantly, getting the Prime Minister to hold a summit on child sexual exploitation, which resulted in the establishment of a task force to tackle the crime.
However, despite all this, I am increasingly frustrated that we only focus on these crimes once they have been committed; what if we could prevent child abuse happening in the first place?
Dare2Care aims to stop child abuse from ever happening. Dare2Care looks at the moments in a child’s life when we can give them the tools to recognise and address inappropriate sexual behaviour. How can a young child know that they are being abused by a relative when the relative is telling them that it is normal and must be kept a secret? How can a young person understand about consent and boundaries when their only source of information on sex is by watching internet pornography?
Dare2Care aims to tackle all these issues by providing a website full of resources and signposted support for young people, parents and professionals so that everyone is not only better equipped at spotting the signs of abuse but that all necessary and comprehensive support is in one, easily accessible place. The Dare2Care website will be a place for people to share their stories anonymously and where blogs from specialist charities and experts can be used to inform and educate.
The final part of the campaign is to investigate the cultural shift that I have seen in young people, in that they now see violence in their relationships as normal. From research done by academics and charities, this normalisation of violence is driven by the internet and social media. The mass proliferation of sexting, cyber-bullying and on-line grooming, when added to my earlier comments about young people finding out about relationships from watching on-line porn has created a toxic cocktail that we, as a society simply have to address.
I believe Dare2Care can be the next step in a cultural fightback that begins to prevent child abuse from happening.
Please join us.
Together we can stop child abuse.