Experts back new child abuse research centre

Tuesday, 05 May, 2009

Professor Julia Davidson running CATS.

A new research centre will offer vital help in the fight against sexual abuse and other crime suffered by children, according to senior police officers, social workers and those combating internet crime.

The Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies, a partnership between experts at Kingston
University and Royal Holloway, University of London, will carry out wide ranging research into child abuse and ways to combat it.

Commander Peter Spindler, from the Metropolitan Police, said: "There has never been a more important time for the academic community to step forward and provide their perspective on the challenging world of child abuse. Professionals are so immersed in addressing the symptoms and manifestations of abuse they rarely have the time or resources to analyse the issues and tailor their response accordingly. I am convinced CATS will be a valuable asset to this never-ending fight for the most vulnerable in society."

The academic research and knowledge coming out of the centre is already helping train frontline staff. Child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Arnon Bentovim said CATS is providing support in a very complex area where workers need the best information available to make decisions. "The universal concern of all reports on children who have been failed by professionals, is the lack of assessment and analytic skills of social workers," he said.

"Together with CATS we are training social workers to use approaches based on valid, well researched methods. Instead of a tick-box approach, they are empowered to use approaches, which have been demonstrated to give a holistic, accurate picture of the needs of abused children and the risks posed by parents and family members.This method helps them to intervene to protect children and to help those recovering from trauma and violence."

CATS will also help combat child abuse images appearing on the internet by working with the Children's Charities Coalition on Internet Safety. "Most of the current research into internet abuse comes from America,"

John Carr, chair of the coalition, said. "We really do need CATS to give us a picture about what is happening in this country, so we can tackle abuse more effectively." Directors Professor Julia Davidson, a criminologist from Kingston University, and Professor Antonia Bifulco, a psychologist from Royal Holloway, University of London, run the new research centre.

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