Child Sexual Abuse: What Can Governments Do?: A Comparative Investigation into Policy Instruments Used in Belgium, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway

Children who are sexually abused by members of their family or by friends are deprived of the very means essential to their sense of well-being and for their healthy development. The persons they naturally expect to trust most turn out to be their enemies and leave them unprotected and without the confidence to relate to others. Sexually abused children carry their pain throughout their lives and need all the support available to cope with their agony and to restore their self worth, if this is at all possible. Many people, such as family members, friends, teachers, social workers, police officers, doctors and therapists, are conventionally involved in repairing or minimising the damage. But what can governments do? Governments often appear powerless in the face of child sexual abuse within the family. They are increasingly appealed to when yet another scandal erupts. But how can governments help these children? What can be done to prevent child sexual abuse from happening in the first place? These are the guiding themes of this publication. This international comparative study describes how governments can do more than they are actually doing and how they can make better use of available policy instruments. The core of the book is formed by an investigation of the policies of governments and their use of policy instruments in five Western European nations. Specialists from Belgium (Flanders), Britain, Germany (Rheinland-Pfalz), The Netherlands and Norway describe the prevailing situation in their countries and offer recommendations for improvement. The editors, Rekha Wazir and Nico van Oudenhoven, place these observations in a wider child-oriented perspective and formulate pointers for policy-makers that are applicable to the whole West-European region. This comparative study and its publication have been facilitated by a grant from the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport. The study has been conducted by International Child Development Initiatives (ICDI). ICDI is an international development support agency located in The Netherlands. It acts as an advocate for marginalized children and youth and provides a platform for policy, practice, programme development and research. ICDI is a partner in international networks for children and youth and functions as a liaison between donors and local NGOs. ICDI's guiding principles are the holistic development of children, the empowerment of families and communities, and the building on available knowledge and local strengths. ICD is an independent non-profit non-governmental organization and generates its income through contractual work.