7 February 2022 #It’sNotOK: Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore is joining Suffolk Constabulary in supporting Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence Awareness Week with a particular focus on young people. The theme for Suffolk is peer on peer sexual abuse and sexual violence between young people and in education settings. This abuse of children by other children can take many forms including bullying, sexual exploitation, and violence. Online peer-on-peer abuse is any form of peer-on-peer abuse with a digital element. This includes sexting, online abuse, coercion and exploitation, peer-on-peer grooming, threatening language the distribution of sexualised content, and harassment. In 2020 in Suffolk there were 120 peer on peer (between 13 and 17 years old) sexual offences recorded, while in 2021 there were 211 recorded. The week takes place across the UK from Monday 7 February until Sunday 14 February. Specialist providers of support to victims and survivors of sexual violence across Suffolk are teaming up and calling on organisations, individuals and agencies across the county to join them in saying ‘Suffolk says that all forms of sexual violence are not ok’. Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “Highlighting the issue of peer on peer abuse is absolutely crucial if we are going to reduce incidents of this dreadful behaviour. “We all have a part to play to support and educate our young people to teach them to respect themselves and each other. “It is quite shocking to me that young people are exposed to such dreadful material and can find themselves being abused and threatened by their peers via their electronic devise. It is a very sad reflection on our society and something we all need to work together to stop. It’s not OK.” Detective Chief Inspector Anna Edmondson said: “Child protection is everyone’s responsibility – we all have a duty of care in reporting concerns to make sure the ‘voice of the child’ is heard. “We take all reports of sexual abuse and violence, whether it is physical or online, extremely seriously and we reassure victims that police and partners are committed to supporting survivors across Suffolk. Such peer on peer abuse is particularly challenging and we always ensure our investigations are conducted with sensitivity and empathy the right professionals with the right skills investigating such cases. “A lot of detailed and complex preventative work is taking place to ensure children are safeguarded and we work with a number of partner agencies including the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub which involves police, county council, education and health among others to address issues of risk of harm, abuse and neglect. “If you have concerns a child is the victim of such abuse either by an adult or another child or young person please get in touch with us – do the right thing as your intervention may be crucial.” The SARC, (Suffolk Sexual Assault Referral Centre) called The Ferns, is jointly funded by Suffolk Constabulary and NHS England and has supported over 3500 victims since it opened in 2011. https://www.theferns-suffolk.org.uk The centre provides ongoing specialist tailored support to victims through Crisis Workers and Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs). This includes medical examinations following a recent rape or sexual assault, which can be done without any police involvement. If, at any time, a victim decides to talk to police, this can be arranged. The Ferns also supports those who have suffered abuse in the past as well as providing impartial information to victims concerning their options, accessing health services such as sexual health screening and specialist support including counselling. ISVAs also provide information on other services the person may require including health and social care, housing, or benefits. Anyone who would like to speak to someone in confidence about sexual abuse or violence can contact Suffolk Police on 101, or staff at The Ferns on 0300 1235058 or via email email@example.com Find out how you can spot the signs of peer-on-peer abuse and support victims: Peer on peer abuse Learn how to protect children and young people from online abuse: https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/child-abuse-and-neglect/online-abuse For further information, support and advice visit www.suffolk.police.uk/advice/assault-abuse-threats/rape Survivors in Transition – Specialist support in Suffolk for female and male survivors of childhood sexual abuse, violence and exploitation www.survivorsintransition.co.uk. The Ferns (theferns-suffolk.org.uk) – Sexual Assault Referral Centre Fresh Start – new beginnings, provides a therapeutic service for children and young people up to 21 years who have reported being sexually abused and to offer support for their families www.fsnb.org.uk. Suffolk Rape Crisis – Support service open to females aged 14 or above who needs support following a rape or sexual assault www.suffolkrapecrisis.org.uk.