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Dr Khadj Rouf

Spreading the word – the role of psychologists in safeguarding children

24 February 2017 | by Dr Khadj Rouf

Please welcome Dr Khadj Rouf , who here discusses her work on the BPS Guidance about non-recent disclosures of childhood abuse

I’m really pleased to have this opportunity to blog about my experience of working on the BPS Guidance about non-recent disclosures of childhood abuse. It’s been a journey, and we are still on the road, spreading the word about the important role that all psychologists can play in safeguarding children, and those who we work with directly, whatever the setting.

The journey started several years ago, when I happened to hear Benna Waites talking on Radio 4 about survivors disclosing past abuse, and how it was a complex area to negotiate. Her call resonated with me so much that I was inspired to get in touch with her, to talk more about what we could do to highlight the issue. We both felt that there was a gap which needed to be filled, in order to help psychologists navigate with their clients through this sensitive and difficult area.

As well as wanting to help support adults who had suffered abuse in childhood, we were also concerned that the people who’d harmed them might still pose a risk to children.

After all, the many high profile cases of abuse that have been reported in the media over recent years, have shown that people can perpetrate crimes against more than one child, and over many years.

So, towards the end of 2015, Benna and I wrote an article for Clinical Psychology Forum, issuing a call for more guidance in this area, and then waited with baited breath to see who might come forward to take the lead and provide the guidance we were hoping for...

However, I imagine that there was not a huge amount of enthusiasm for this (rather daunting) task, as we were then (very graciously) asked if we might like to write it ourselves!

Eventually, after several long delays, lots of late nights, and more than a fair bit of editing (not to mention a couple of emergency stops), we finally got the green light to publish the newly-written Guidance on the management of disclosures of non-recent (historic) child sexual abuse, which was launched in Oxford in June of last year.

We were, and are, delighted to have been hosted by PASC and extremely grateful for the opportunity to speak alongside a mix of clinicians, survivors, and academics, and since then we have also been invited to speak to the DCP in Glasgow, and the DCP Conference in Liverpool.

We have been bowled over by the positive response to document, and by the responses from all the people who have spoken to us about other areas that could be addressed in further iterations, such as people disclosing past abuse in the context of pregnancy, or during invasive medical treatments.

But we also realise that there is a long way to go in terms of spreading the word, and how important our message is.

As a survivor of abuse it is something that is close to my own heart and, and with experts in the field describing child abuse as being at ‘epidemic’ levels (Smith, 2016), I believe we all have a role to play in safeguarding.

If you’re reading this blog, feel free to download the guidance and talk you to your colleagues about it, and please do think about coming along to one of the next events, or asking people you know to come along.

As Sir Michael Marmot says, in his work on social justice, 'Do something. Do more. Do it better.' (Marmot, M., 2015, 'The Health Gap', London: Bloomsbury)

Related events:

23-24th March 2017

Friday 26th May 2017, BPS London Offices

Friday 08th September 2017: BPS London Office

Related links:

Trauma informed care documents:


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