Objectives Our SARC became a regional paediatric service in October 2018 covering 3 counties and offering holistic forensic and health assessments for recent victims of sexual abuse. In April 2019 a self-referral service for young people aged 13 to 15 was offered. This option had only been available to young people aged over 16 prior to this date. We are the only SARC in the South West to offer this service to this age group.
The objective was to review 3 years‘ worth of attendances in relation to young people accessing this service for key descriptive data and outcomes
Methods A retrospective review of clinical records of all young people ages 14 to 17 accessing the SARC as a self-referral who attended from April 2019 to March 2022
Details about age, vulnerability factors, details on the alleged suspects/s and police involvement prior or after SARC visit was collated
Results 58 young people were seen via this route over 3 years. This represented 13% of the total 462 children and young people seen over that time period. All were female. All were subject to extra familial sexual abuse by males. 34 of these were aged 14 or 15 years old who would not have had a service to access prior to April 2019. No 13 year old’s accessed the service in this context in this time frame.
14% (8) subsequently pursued a police process and had their forensic samples retrieved with consent by the police. This was on average 3 months later (range 1 to 6 months). This compares with 8% of adult self-referrals.
When the details of the age of the suspect/s were available (in 41 cases); 51% (21) were harmed by another young person or people less than 18 years of age. In 60% (35) the police had been made aware of the abuse prior to attending the SARC.
In 24%(14) there were concerns about sexual exploitation. 10%(6) were looked after children and 76% (44) had a history of self-harm and/or active mental health concerns
Conclusions There is a need for a self referral service for 13 to 17 year old’s in a SARC setting and uptake has been consistent over 3 years. All have been harmed outside the home; half by other young people. Mental health concerns and self harm rates are high and a quarter were vulnerable to exploitation.
No males or transgender young people accessed this service suggesting the reach of the service, and likely SARC services more broadly, need improvement.
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