Wednesday, May 26, 1999 Published at 02:02 GMT 03:02 UK
Charity exposes child abuse 'silence'
The NSPCC is trying to raise awareness about child abuse
Up to two-thirds of voluntary youth organisations do not report on staff suspected or proven to have offended against children, according to a survey.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Against Children (NSPCC) says the findings show the need for more education of staff about spotting and reporting child abuse.
The survey of 41 voluntary youth organisations by the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services found that only 15 reported suspicions or findings of abuse.
The NSPCC is launching an education programme which offers a basic introduction to child protection issues.
It says more than one million people work or volunteer to work with children in the UK. Many have had little or no training in child protection.
Its home-study EduCare Programme is aimed at a wide range of people working with children, from scouts leaders and sports coaches to youth workers.
The Scout Association and St John Ambulance have already committed their staff to the programme.
It is part of the NSPCC's Full Stop Campaign to End Cruelty to Children, which was launched in March.
Staff are given a home-study programme which aims to give them confidence, skills and knowledge about child protection.
It covers areas such as warning signs that a child is being abused and practical steps for staff to take to report their suspicions.
Child protection groups say that child abusers tend to have a specific profile and often spend a lot of time grooming their victims.
They may gravitate towards jobs which involve a great deal of contact with children.
NSPCC director Jim Harding said: "Parents who entrust their children to the care of others need to have confidence that they are in safe hands.
"Providing child protection awareness for every single person working and volunteering with children will go a long way to achieving this.
"Abuse thrives on silence and lack of understanding. Only by educating as many people as possible about abuse and its devastating consequences can we ever really hope to bring an end to it."
The NSPCC is calling for more organisations to pledge themselves to the education programme and make basic child protection standard for staff.
Jill Scott, of the St John Ambulance, said: "St John Ambulance believes every child and every volunteer has the right to feel protected."
Derek Twine, chief executive of the Scout Association, said: "Over half a million young people enjoy scouting every week.
"The welfare and security of these children has to be our first and most important priority."