Book review: Protectors Handbook by Gerrilyn Smith

The Protectors’ Handbook – Reducing the risk of child sexual abuse and helping children recover


Gerrilyn Smith, BAAF

ISBN 9781905664474

This book is aimed at all adults involved with helping children, but the focus is particularly on foster carers. From the outset, it is clear that the author is writing from the perspective of having known and worked with many children who have been sexually abused. For specialists or professionals in the field, the information will be familiar but nonetheless a useful summary and a timely reminder of the key issues around child sexual abuse and sexual offending.

Topics covered include signs and indicators of sexual abuse, reducing risk, and the emotional consequences of sexual abuse and the healing process. The book highlights the significance of the healing process taking place on a day-to-day basis and centralises the importance of caring adults who have this ongoing involvement. The author also points out that many children can recover from sexual abuse without professional help.

Occasionally I would question some of the phrasing and terminology – for example, “child pornography” rather than “child abuse images” – and maybe the impact of computer technology and the wider availability of explicit sexual information on the sexual behaviours of the five- to 12-year-old age group. But I would still recommend this book to all professionals and carers involved in working with children.

Andrew Durham is a consultant practitioner for Warwickshire SIBS and an independent child care consultant

Review published in 23 July 2009 edition of Community Care

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