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Call to support adult survivors of child sex abuse

Nurses need to be ‘professionally curious’ to help identify adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

Nurses need to be ‘professionally curious’ to help identify adult survivors of child sexual abuse


Dru Sharpling speaking at the fringe event held at RCN congress

A fringe event at RCN congress on Tuesday heard of the vital role nurses have in assisting the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse.

Inquiry panel member Dru Sharpling said the inquiry needed the help of frontline staff in raising awareness of its work to potential witnesses.

Ms Sharpling heads up the Truth Project, one part of the three-strand statutory inquiry, which is allowing victims and survivors of child sex abuse to share their experiences.

'Human need'

She said it was a ‘fundamental human need’ for victims to gain justice by having their experiences heard and believed.

RCN children and young people staying healthy forum chair Leila Francis said: ‘As nurses, it will be us having to pick up the pieces and go forward in the future with the people who are victims of sexual abuse.’

Ms Francis said one in 14 adults are thought to be survivors of child sexual abuse.

‘We are going to come across them every day in the work that we do. Are we being professionally curious in unpicking that the people we look after now may have the problems they do because of what happened to them in the past?’

A member of the audience agreed that nurses need to be professionally curious. In her experience as a nurse examiner of 0-14 year olds, she said that ‘often children would be abused for quite a long time before even making a passing comment [about it]’

Preliminary report

A preliminary report of the inquiry will be published next April.

Ms Sharpling added that there would be a seminar on health issues as part of the inquiry’s work.

Further information

Child abuse inquiry urges nurses to help survivors tell their stories


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