By Marilyn E Hawes and Jo Evans
pound;2, Enough Abuse Ltd, 6 Morris Drive, Billingshurst, West Sussex RH14
What worries the authors of this booklet (they run a non-profit-making child protection consultancy) is that there are still many people, including parents and some professionals, who need to be told or reminded of the basic facts about the sexual exploitation of children. For example, 90 per cent of abusers are known to their victims, which means that the sinister stranger is very much the exception. Marilyn Hawes last year published her account of her twin sons' abuse by their primary headteacher, a family friend (TES, June 25, 2004).
The key to this crime is "grooming": the process by which a paedophile becomes a trusted friend, not just of the targeted child, or of the junior soccer team, but often of a whole admiring group of families. ("He's so good with children.") The booklet is chillingly frank about the lengths to which a paedophile will go, perhaps over some years, to gain access to a child through the family.
This is a valuable resource: brief, to the point, and cheap enough to be given away to parents and voluntary workers who will appreciate not only its advice on protecting children, but the section on guarding themselves against accusation. It's factual, not sensational. As Julie Walters, patron of the Enough Abuse organisation, writes in her introduction: "The aim is prevention, not to scare, enabling everyone to become more aware and protect themselves."