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Sexually Abused Children

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 20 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what services are provided by the NHS for children in Milton Keynes who have been sexually abused. (77697)

Specialist services including treatment for sexually transmitted infections, termination of pregnancy and mental health services are available for those children who need them as a result of sexual abuse, wherever they are in England. For children with less severe mental health problems, it is more appropriate for universal services to provide the psychological support they need than for them to be referred to specialist child and adolescent mental health services.

The Department and the Mental Health Foundation jointly funded a multi-centre study to evaluate the use of psychotherapy with girls aged 6 to 14 years who had been sexually abused. Two of the main findings were that high rates of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder were found and both group and individual psychotherapy were effective and improvement in the patients condition tended to continue after treatment had ended.

It is important that Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are developed in a way that is responsive to the needs of the populations they serve. The CAMHS standard of the children's National Service Framework (NSF) sets out the requirement for an assessment of the needs of particular groups of children in the locality who are vulnerable or at risk. The NSF also states that commissioners and services should be able to demonstrate multi-agency partnership working in the following areas: the provision of services to children and young people who may or may not have been harmed, as set out in “Working Together to Safeguard Children”; contributing to the assessment of complex child abuse cases; the assessment and provision of post-abuse therapeutic services; and services for looked after and adopted children.