Child sexual assault pathway for Scotland- consultation response

In August 2019 we responded to the Scottish Government's consultation on its Clinical Pathway for Children and young People who have disclosed sexual abuse.

The RCPCH broadly supports the clinical pathway outlined in the consultation, which is relevant for children under 16 years of age (or up to 18 years of age for young people with vulnerabilities and additional support needs) disclosing CSA in Scotland, but has made several recommendations for addition. 

The consultation outlines the definition of child and the legal context. It also looks at trauma-informed care and the role of professionals in a multidisciplinary team, eg the police, social workers and healthcare professionals.

Our response

  • Child sexual abuse should not be considered in isolation from all other forms of physical and emotional abuse and neglect.
  • It must be ensured that all victims of abuse are provided with at least the minimum standard of care outlined in this pathway.
  • All services involved  must employ those who have a high level of skills in identification, assessment, and both multidisciplinary and multi-agency management of all forms of child maltreatment.

Our recommendations

  • The pathway should be underpinned by the principles set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
  • A full description of the Barnahus concept should be given: Barnahus is a place at which the social services, the police, the public prosecutor’s office, forensic medicine, paediatrics and child and adolescent psychiatry can confer and collaborate.
  • Reference should be made to the timing of acute forensic assessment outlined in sexual offences: pre-pubertal and post-pubertal complainants.
  • A risk assessment follow up for suicide, self-harm, child sexual exploitation  or domestic violence should be added as there is no mention of mental health in the pathway.

We respond to a wide range of consultations to ensure that the College’s position, and ultimately children’s health, is represented. Members can get involved in current consultations by contacting the Scottish office at