POLICE have been trained to help parents spot sexual abuse of children taking place in their own home, as a part of a new bid to drive down offending.
The Stop it now! campaign warns that youngsters are at greater risk of assault by someone they know, in their family or community, than by a convicted sex attacker living nearby.
Campaigners want parents to look out for, and be prepared to challenge, tell-tale signs of grooming or assault.
The charity behind the campaign, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, has trained 600 officers from across Scotland on how to spot abuse. They will now pass that information on in seminars and through community work.
The foundation plans to use the same training to educate religious groups, parents’ organisations, community theatres and sports groups.
William Manson, Stop it Now! Scotland project manager, said: “We know that most abuse is committed by people who the children know in the home, not by strangers.
“So much of this goes unreported and that’s why adults need to know the signs to look out for and what to do about it. We cannot leave the child to be the one to take action.”
He added: “It is estimated that one in six children across Scotland experience sexual abuse before the age of 16.
“By working with the police we have been able to spread vital sexual abuse prevention messages at a local level within communities.”
Those who fear abuse may be taking place in their home are encouraged to share their concerns with police or someone else they trust.
Assistant Chief Constable Graham Sinclair of Lothian and Borders Police said: “A large part of the work of the police service is protecting the vulnerable in our communities.