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Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
Abusers targeted in new campaign
Posed picture of an abused boy
The campaign is being run in Fife (Posed picture)
A new campaign has been launched with the message there is no such thing as a typical child abuser.

The "Safe From Harm" initiative in Fife challenges what is described as the myth of stranger danger.

The new campaign will impress upon parents that they must be aware the greatest threat to their children can be from someone they know, trust or love.

It has been launched by the Fife Child Protection Committee and follows a child sex abuse scandal in the area last year.

David Murphy
David Murphy was jailed for child abuse last year

David Murphy, was jailed for 15 years last year after abusing boys in his care. His case highlighted the difficulty of recognising a possible abuser.

The campaign has been designed to be deliberately controversial.

One poster depicts a man and boy fishing, and says: "I thought he was a lovely man who adored my kids."

Another shows a smiling group, but underneath are the words: "Everybody thought we were such a happy family."

The message is clear - most victims are abused by someone they know.

The Kingdom's child protection committee says the impression of stranger danger is outdated, and the reality is many offenders use positions of trust and love to abuse children.

'Rise in abuse'

The advice to parents is to be wary of anyone who wants to spend a lot of time alone with your child; do not assume friends and family always mean well and make sure your child feels able to tell you if there is anything wrong.

Figures released in March revealed the number of Scottish children suffering neglect and abuse at the hands of their parents had increased by more than 50% over the past two years.

More than 28,000 cruelty cases went before children's hearings last year, with drug abuse being identified as a major factor in the rise.

Drug injector
Drug use is blamed for a rise in abuse cases

The annual report of the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration said the public was also more willing to report cases of abuse.

The majority of children who come before the children's panel are there because of evidence that they are being neglected, abused or cruelly treated by their own parents.

A total of 28,057 care and protection cases were referred during 2000-2001.

That figure was an increase of 54% from 1998, and represented a 1,700% rise from the 1,576 cases handled when the system was first introduced in 1972.

The reporters to the children's hearings said drug abuse by parents was a factor in the rise.

Alcohol abuse and domestic violence were also highlighted as major reasons why some children were no longer safe in their own homes.

BBC Scotland's Morag Kinniburgh reports
"Campaigners warn that danger very rarely comes from strangers"
Morag Kinniburgh reports
"Child protection experts say it's impossible to stereotype the kind of person who sexually abuses children"
See also:

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02 Mar 01 | Scotland
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