HC Deb 03 November 1989 vol 159 cc364-5W
Mrs. Dun woody

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will instigate a report to discover the sociological and psychological backgrounds on child abusers;

(2) if he will instigate a research project to discover how widespread the problem of child abuse is within the community; and what are the effects upon the individual child, the family unit concerned, and the sentencing and removal of the abuser.

Mr. John Patten

A table listing recent, current and planned research into child abuse funded by all Government Departments was placed in the Library in May this year. This covers the period 1989–90 and includes projects on the perpetrators, prevalence and effects of child abuse to be undertaken mainly by health departments. The Home Office is undertaking research into prevention and evidential matters. We are also preparing for publication a statistical study of criminal proceedings for offences against children, taking in sentencing. It is too early to say what projects Departments will be including in 1990–91 research programmes.

Mrs. Dunwoody

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set up a national prevention programme against child abuse.

Mr. John Patten

The Government are supporting a number of preventive measures. An important factor in preventing child abuse is to ensure that children are taught how to keep themselves safe, and to this end a set of guidelines for parents, drawn up by the organisation KIDSCAPE, has been incorporated in the Home Office crime prevention handbook "Practical Ways to Crack Crime". Three million copies of the handbook have been distributed.

The Department of Health provides a financial contribution towards the administrative expenses of a number of national voluntary organisations which campaign for the prevention of child abuse, for example the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Childline. The Department of Health also funded the production of a training package by the Open university which was launched earlier this year and which aims to provide people who have had little or no knowledge of the subject of child abuse, as well as professionals and voluntary workers, with greater awareness and recognition skills.