Shockingly, 1 in 10 children have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 16.

A new campaign across Birmingham urges local communities to ‘start the conversation’ about child sexual abuse, encouraging us to bring the facts out into the open.

Birmingham-based organisation Kikit is leading the campaign, which is running across social media, local radio and press.

KIKIT Managing Director Mohammed Ashfaq

In the experience of Mohammed Ashfaq, Kikit’s Managing Director, people prefer not to talk about child sexual abuse. Changing the community’s outlook on this is a top priority for the campaign:

Ashfaq says: “Child sexual abuse happens in every community, and unfortunately our community is no different.

“It’s time we started understanding what child sexual abuse means, rather than thinking it isn’t happening. We need to bring it out into the open so that we can protect our children.”

Around 500,000 children are sexually abused every year. It can happen anywhere – by people we may trust and in places where we usually feel secure. Child sexual abuse can happen in person or online.

Ayisha Ali is a former deputy headteacher and now focuses on safeguarding work within schools across Birmingham.

Ayisha Ali

She says: “Child sexual abuse is a huge concern. The only way we can start to protect our children is to talk about it openly and understand more about what child sexual abuse means. Often, a child might be afraid to tell someone what’s happening to them and need the support to speak up.”

When a child or young person (anyone under the age of 18) is sexually abused, they could be forced, tricked, or manipulated into sexual activities.

This can include things like forcing a child to view sexual content, touching a child inappropriately or exposing yourself to a child. The child might not understand that what’s happening is abuse or that it’s wrong.

Nesath Khusbu is a legal consultant as well as a content creator and social activist.

Nesath Khusbu

Nesath often supports women and families in her work, and she agrees that sweeping child sexual abuse under the carpet is something we need to change.

She says: “If I mention to someone that 1 in 10 children have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 16, they find it very hard to believe. It’s a huge figure but, unfortunately, it’s true and it’s closer to home than we may think. We have to understand more about child sexual abuse and talk about it openly.”

The campaign includes more detailed information and guidance on Kikit’s website, including where you can go for support if you need it.

Rohit Sagoo is a paediatric nurse and Founder of British Sikh Nurses. He is supporting the campaign and agrees with the importance of opening up discussions about child sexual abuse.

Rohit Sagoo

“It can be hard to admit that something like this is happening on our doorstep, but the more we talk about child sexual abuse and the more we know about it, the safer we can keep our children.”

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If you feel you need to talk to someone at KIKIT, please call 0121 448 3883 and someone will be there to listen.