A ‘postcode lottery’ in the availability of therapy means that thousands of sexually abused children could suffer long-term mental health problems, the NSPCC has said.
There is a massive shortfall in therapeutic services in some areas of the country, with less than one support programme per 10,000 children in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, a report from the children’s charity warned.
Figures for Wales were not available, while some areas are apparently offering nothing at all.
Waiting times is another problem identified by the report, with young victims waiting an average of three months before seeing a professional. In some cases they had to wait for a year.
Teenagers were found to be highly vulnerable to missing out on treatment because they may be considered too old for support on a child protection plan, but are less able to access adult services.
The NSPCC’s Debbie Allnock, who led the research, said ‘huge’ investment would need to be pumped into therapeutic services.
She said: ‘Sexual abuse can have devastating consequences for a child but it remains a low priority within mainstream mental health services and among local authorities.’