Advancing child sexual abuse prevention: a conversation with Jon Brown, chair of the NOTA prevention committee
In collaboration with the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abuse (NOTA), we are delighted to be co-hosting an online conference on 22 November, which will focus on preventing child sexual abuse, best practice, and identifying gaps in what we all need to know.
Ahead of the event, we sat down with Jon Brown, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Barnardo’s and Chair of the NOTA Prevention Committee, to discuss his hopes for the event and what he thinks the next few years hold in store for child sexual abuse prevention.
“The conference will highlight several practical elements in the hope that people will feel engaged about prevention, their current roles and the potential for these roles to evolve,” said Jon.
The practical path to prevention
What we hope will set this event apart is the focus on engaging a wide range of professionals.
“We hope to bring together practitioners, managers and strategic leaders already working within the field, as well as those who wish to learn more and actively work towards child sexual abuse prevention,” said Jon, who trained as a social worker and worked in the probation service before moving into the voluntary sector.
He highlighted his aim that the conference will provide practical take-home advice and tools for attendees. “This includes workshops and keynote speeches, ensuring that participants leave with tangible knowledge and skills they can apply in their work,” he said. “The ultimate goal is for professionals to feel more confident and informed about their role in preventing child sexual abuse.”
A public health approach
With experience at major children’s charities including Action for Children, NSPCC and Barnardo’s, Jon emphasises the need for cooperation between professionals and policymakers to intervene early and to take a public health approach to child sexual abuse prevention – something the Lucy Faithfull Foundation also advocates for.
“There is still work to be done. We need to be conveying fundamental information about the scale and nature of child sexual abuse prevention, both in the UK and on an international scale,” he said. “It is important that people feel informed, for the community to play a vital role, right through to those on the front line.”
“The UK has made significant progress in child sexual abuse prevention,” says Jon, who is keen to share knowledge and best practice with international colleagues.
“Organisations like The Lucy Faithfull Foundation and initiatives like Circles have been instrumental in this progress. Government action, whilst not always consistent has also played an important role, and helping policymakers understand the benefits of considering child sexual abuse prevention is a must. We understand the emotional cost and we are applying financial costs to child sexual abuse to indicate how child sexual abuse prevention can save governments money,” Jon added.
Beacons of best practice
The conference will look at Stop It Now’s impact as well as the other contributions of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, Together for Childhood, the NSPCC, Barnardo’s, Safer Living Foundation, Circles and many others.
“These, as well as initiatives like the Jill Dando Institute at University College London and the CSA Centre, which focus on skilling up front-line professionals, are also of particular importance within this arena. It’s important that we continue to see this expertise grow and develop within the country and globally,” said Jon.
Jon worked with colleagues to set up one of the early sex offender treatment programmes in the UK and thinks a reasonable job has been done of exporting child sexual abuse prevention models. However, challenges persist in the field of prevention, “notably funding challenges related to early intervention and a substantial need for stronger local government focus,” he said.
“There used to be a minister for prevention in government and we should be calling for this again. We should be calling for this focus with a louder voice. We need open and honest conversations about resources.”
Normalising conversations on child sexual abuse
Child sexual abuse can have a long-lasting effect and stopping it from happening in the first place is of paramount importance. It's a problem that's more pervasive than many people realise.
When asked about raising awareness of the scale of child sexual abuse to the general public, Jon said: “To most people I meet, it’s a big surprise. People have never really thought about the scale of the problem and the unfortunate reality is that child sexual abuse is a much wider-spread problem than people realise. We need to normalise the issue so we can address the challenge effectively.”
A generational endeavour
Jon remains optimistic for the future, citing the wealth of good practice in child sexual abuse prevention. He emphasises that practical approaches don't need to be overly complex and can draw from public messaging and educational materials in other areas. With continued financial support and better engagement with young people, progress is possible.
“We all need to be actively involved, maintaining a long-term perspective on the progress being made,” he concluded. “Child sexual abuse prevention is a generational endeavour.”
Find out more
Interested in our campaign to deter people from online child sexual abuse? Check out our Faithfull Paper.
Want to support our work to prevent child sexual abuse? Find out how
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