Have last week's reports into Jimmy Savile's crimes, undetected over six decades, been a watershed moment for child protection?

In particular, can we feel confident we're getting it right in Scotland?

Unfortunately not. Not without, for instance, drawing lessons from the report of Operation Yewtree, Giving Victims a Voice; from the Director of Public Prosecutions in England; and from warnings that child sexual abuse (CSA) is becoming less, not more, of a priority for our statutory child protection services.

In fact, numerous senior respected people in the child abuse field are concerned that CSA is "disappearing" from the protective priorities of social work in particular, just as the Savile case confirms a major hidden problem.

Social workers have told me CSA is seen as "yesterday's issue", that they are "right back to the 1980s in terms of training and awareness", and their staff are afraid to ask families at risk about it "because they would have to do something".

Anne Houston, chief executive of Children 1st, says with recent statutory emphasis on neglect and emotional abuse "there is concern sexual abuse is being allowed to disappear off the statutory radar ... it becomes harder for people to raise this difficult issue and feel it will be taken seriously".

The charity's eight abuse and trauma recovery services across Scotland all have significant waiting lists. She says: "Funding is becoming harder to sustain. If the Savile horrors are to provide anything positive, it must be that those who have been, or are being, abused know they will be listened to, taken seriously, appropriately protected and helped to heal."

Meanwhile, a worried senior social worker told a Stirling seminar in December CSA was now not simply lower down their priorities, but "at the bottom of the scale", well below drug misuse, neglect and emotional abuse (despite, of course, the frequent link between experience of CSA and addictions).

Laurie Matthew, manager of 18 and Under, the Dundee charity which offers confidential support and advice for abuse victims, has highlighted cases in which she claims police have been more concerned about questioning teenage male victims about their drug suppliers than investigating their sexual abuse.

Martin Henry, national manager of Stop it Now Scotland, says: "It is concerning CSA seems to have become significantly less prominent in the priorities of local authority social work in Scotland – overshadowed by other types of child maltreatment – but this is no longer acceptable."

Addressing the problem, he says, requires "continuous up-skilling, training and improvements in research and knowledge. CSA is a major concern that requires the full attention and adequate response of statutory and voluntary sectors".

If social work chiefs and Scottish Government agencies deny this reduction in priority for CSA is happening or say evidence is anecdotal, they need to enable social workers and other child protection staff to speak freely about their own experience of what they are asked to prioritise. It will be particularly unproductive to pin hopes on investigations into child sexual exploitation in Scotland while basic awareness of and resources for CSA are diminishing, since victims of both crimes tend to come from the same groups.

Mr Henry calls for reversal of this decline, and national action: "The rhetoric and hand-wringing that follows major scandals such as Savile is not enough. Stop it Now! Scotland calls for a comprehensive, Scottish Government-led national strategy and action plan across Government departments to prevent child sexual abuse. This must focus on changing adult thinking and behaviour, as well as on educating young people."

Addressing the diminishing focus on CSA is the most pressing need. Secondly, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, headed by Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, should consider – with advice from the National Sexual Crimes Unit and other agencies – whether we should follow Keir Starmer's actions in England. The Director of Public Prosecutions spoke out against "unjustifiable caution" about sex offence allegations, especially with stigmatised, vulnerable witnesses. He has agreed with senior police:

l Police and prosecutors testing credibility in sexual assault must test the suspect's account, and actively build cases, with as much importance as testing the alleged victim's story. (What an indictment, that this should need saying.)

l More support should be given to those making allegations, and the number of times vulnerable victims can be cross-examined in court will be reconsidered.

l Victims who feel past allegations were not properly dealt with can ask for cases to be examined again by joint police/CPS panels.

The final lesson from the Yewtree report lies in the strong evidence it contains that close liaison between police and voluntary sector child protection organisations is effective in tackling sexual crime.

This should be tried in Scotland, with third party reporting available, as happens already in anti-gay crime. Many people shrink from reporting to police or social work directly but trust charities; the report shows how the NSPCC helpline was flooded with calls, giving "an efficient and open information flow" to Operation Yewtree. That included nearly 300 people telling of abusers other than Savile. One-third of callers were male, and most callers had never reported before.

The integrated approach showed clear benefits, with "the opportunity to develop further understanding and best joint working practices". It increased awareness of charities' vital role in supporting victims. Partnership working enhanced public confidence in police and children's services.

People with concerns about a child can call ParentLine Scotland (08000 28 22 33) at any time for advice and support. Children 1st's 12 top tips on protecting children is now launched, as part of their See.Hear.Speak.Act on sexual abuse campaign, (http://www.children1st.org.uk/common/uploads/news/2012/see_hear_speak_act/12_Top_Tips.pdf). People can call the Stop it Now helpline on 0808 1000 900 if they have anxieties about other people's behaviour, or their own, towards children.

Meanwhile the NSPCC in Scotland launches this week a UK-wide six-week television campaign "Don't wait until you're certain". It urges the public to phone and report concerns – or ask advice. They can call the NSPCC's free UK helpline (24 hours) anonymously on 0808 800 5000, (text 88858 or report online at help@nspcc.org.uk).

Dr Sarah Nelson of Edinburgh University specialises in child sexual abuse and its effects.