This research is designed to map geographically the provision of services for children and young people who have been sexually abused, raped or sexually exploited. In addition to identifying the range of services available and any gaps in provision, the study also elicits the views of young people on aspects of service provision. Both young people and professionals working in therapeutic services were included in the study.
Key points from the study: - The overall level of specialist provision is low. Our mapping exercise revealed significant geographical gaps in provision both nationally and locally. - There is a huge gap between the estimated need for services and service availability. Potential shortfalls in provision range from 88,544 therapeutic places for children and young people at our most liberal calculation, to 51,715 places at our most conservative. Providers also consistently reported that demand for services exceeded their capacity, which suggests that many children and young people do not get the help and support they need to help them cope with and overcome the harmful consequences of sexual abuse. - Specialist services are not only too few but they are often offered too late. Services are offered mostly when a child or a young person is already showing symptoms of mental health or behavioural problems. - There were few services available for young people who have been raped or seriously sexually assaulted. There is a gap between services for sexually abused children who are referred via the child protection route, and adult services for rape and sexual violence. - Services are less accessible for some groups of young people. This applies particularly to young people living in rural areas, those from ethnic minorities, and those who have disabilities or learning difficulties. - There is a lack of information on the need for services and on what services and interventions are effective. Information on what interventions are effective in improving outcomes for children and young people who have been abused is urgently needed to guide efficient commissioning and provision of services at the national and regional level.