THE Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma, has today called on government to provide co-ordinated, long term and sustained support and services for children who have experienced, or at risk of child sexual exploitation.
Speaking ahead of a seminar, Protecting Children from Sexual Exploitation in NI: Learning the Lessons, that NICCY is hosting the Commissioner warned that some services are at risk of becoming further fragmented.
She said: “Today’s event is about examining the progress that we have made in the last two years since the Minister for Health commissioned both a review by the Safeguarding Board and an independent inquiry.
“There have clearly been some improvements since the Report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation led by Professor Kathleen Marshall.
“However, I am concerned that a number of the recommendations have yet to be put in place and that the plans are fragmented.
“While we still await the publication of the Safeguarding Board’s review it is time to remind all those in government that this is about some of our most exploited and vulnerable children, whose lives do not always fit into the neat boxes of government departments.
“There needs to be clear action to prevent and protect from abuse, prosecute the abusers and support those children who have been abused recover.”
Today’s seminar brings together stakeholders from a range of agencies, including health, education and policing. Professor Marshall is among the speakers.
Koulla added: “I believe that there can be no further delay – we must strengthen the systems and services for these children.
“And, we must listen to children, we must make sure they have trusted and meaningful
“This seminar is an opportunity to review how far we have come and make sure that we have the right mechanisms in place that confirm all actions takes actually make our children safer.”