Brother urges training to help spot the warning signs of abuse

Ben Sykes.
Ben Sykes.

A trainee doctor spoke of the tragic events surrounding his sister’s murder to launch new training to help health workers keep young people safe.

Ben Sykes teamed up with the Children’s Society to urge people working in healthcare to take part in Seen and Heard, designed to help spot the signs of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

His sister Samantha Sykes, 18, and Kimberley Frank, 17, were killed on March 9, 2012, in Eastmoor by Ahmad Otak, who was jailed for life.

Ben, 21, of Horbury, was asked to help launch the training in London last week and talk about why it was important to his family.

He said: “I started by saying the reason I was there was because my sister was murdered.

“She wasn’t subject to CSE herself, but was supporting another girl who was subject to it, who unfortunately is no longer with us.”

One in 20 children in the UK has been abused - but on average, it can take them up to seven years to disclose their abuse.

The new training, commissioned by the Department of Health, aims to give people the confidence to intervene if a child is at risk of abuse.

The 60-minute online course helps people spot behaviour in young people which could mean they are being abused.

Seen and Heard includes messages from young people in their own words, and is based around a powerful drama about a boy called Tyler.

The launch event at Homerton University in London was attended by health minister Nicola Blackwood and Matthew Reed, chief executive of the Children’s Society.

Ben, who is studying at Manchester University, said: “The training package is for all health professionals on the signs of CSE and what to do next. It takes about an hour to complete.

“It was well received. A lot of people I spoke to afterwards thought I was more experienced than I was.”

People who have taken part in Seen and Heard can apply to become a ‘champion’ who presents the training to colleagues in their workplace.

To take part in Seen and Heard, log on to