A MOTHER whose children were groomed and sexually abused delivered some hard-hitting messages at a safeguarding event in Dorchester.

Marilyn Hawes, who set up the child protection charity Enough Abuse, was the main speaker at the event at South Walks House organised by the South Western Dorset Domestic Violence and Abuse Forum.

The event was held just a day after a report was published by the children’s commissioner that claimed the vast majority of child sex abuse goes unreported.

Marilyn set up her charity in 2003 after her three sons were sexually groomed and assaulted by their headteacher at the school where she also taught.

She said that over the first ten years the aim of the charity was for people to be talking about child sexual abuse in the same way they discuss issues such as road safety.

Marilyn said over the next ten years the aim was to roll out the education so it was available to every child safeguarding course in the country.
She said: “Today is about grooming and how we spot it.

“How you can recognise grooming and also a potential abuser.

“The only thing that is going to prevent abuse is if we recognise abuse at a very young age.

“With early intervention it can be ironed out.”

She added: “If you don’t understand the behaviour, you have not got a chance of preventing it at all.”

Marilyn said the two key questions that were being asked at the event, which was free to anyone who works or has responsibility for young children in the area, was what is abuse and what is consent.

She said: “I have yet to find practitioners, front line teachers who can answer that.

“If they don’t know how can a child know it?”

Marilyn said the children’s commissioners report did not reveal anything new about the scale of child abuse and the state of the problem.

She said it was now up to the Government and those in authority to put measures in place to start addressing the problem.

Marilyn said that at the moment around £3.2billion was spent annual on the fall out from sexual abuse and she said investing more into prevention and education was the only way of bringing that down.

She also disagreed with a claim in the report that girls were more likely to be victims of abuse, claiming there is no proven evidence to show that.

For more information about Enough Abuse visit enoughabuseuk.com