Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Endless abuse

I know this is grim reading, but I was horrified by the sheer scale of the sex abuse scandal in Oxford-shire, not to mention the generally pathetic response of police and social workers, who allowed the abuse to go on for so long.

It's reported that over 370 girls were systematically assaulted, raped and tortured over a fifteen year period, and that those who should have protected the girls and stopped the abuse either turned a blind eye, trivialised what was happening, or blamed the victims for provoking the abuse. And not one person has been subsequently disciplined or sacked.

I don't know where to begin in dissecting this whole appalling saga, which speaks volumes about the incompetence of public servants who are meant to be shielding the vulnerable but end up shielding the predators.

There was clearly a well-established network of men carrying out the abuse, but they were able to continue their atrocities for many years before finally being arrested.

The case review just published says that not only were police and social workers generally in denial, but they blamed the girls for their "precocious and difficult behaviour", accused them of putting themselves at risk, ignored underage sexual activity, and denied the girls had been groomed and violently controlled.

It's hard to know what can be done to prevent such widespread abuse happening all over again in the future. If trained professionals whose specific job it is to protect vulnerable children utterly fail to do so, will further training or new legislation make any difference? If those who are meant to keep children safe simply don't seem to understand the concept of safety, how will they ever change?

I can't see any effective remedy short of sacking all those who allowed this nightmare to go on for so long, and employing people with a genuine concern for children's well-being who will stop sexual and emotional abuse the moment they discover it.

And the whole insidious culture of blaming the victim, which is still so rampant, must be reversed once and for all and attention focused on those who allowed so many victims to pile up year after year.


  1. I can't understand why nobody can somehow be responsible for all this. I don't agree with knee jerk reactions but I do think there is something to be said for making it an offence to turn a blind eye. .

  2. Jenny: It's absurd that nobody is seen as responsible and the whole thing is put down to "lack of knowledge and understanding and organisational failings." So someone is at fault for not passing on the necessary knowledge and understanding. And whoever organises the police or social services is responsible for the organisational failings.

  3. This is a wide-spread problem. Children are blamed rather than the powerful men who abuse them, rape victims are seen as responsible for inciting their rapist and so on. It's crazy but powerful people are often well-protected.

  4. Agent: Yes, even when the powerful are taken to court - like Dominique Strauss-Kahn - they're invariably treated more leniently than lesser mortals. And I guess the ranks of the powerful include the police chiefs and social services directors who are less likely to be prosecuted than the humble minions beneath them.

  5. In this patriarchal culture we are stuck with, Nick, blame the victim is the mantra recited over an over again. Men get away with child rape, incest, domestic violence. The recent stats in my province are frightening - 50% of all females are abused, and this is only the REPORTEd abuses.

    The recent case of Epstein and Saville in the UK only emphasizes the slap on the wrist or turn the other way concept of justice. And Cosby??????

    It is beyond rampant now.


  6. www: Too true about all the abuse that's not even reported. From wolf-whistles in the street to vicious rapes. Quite surprising really that Savile and Co are finally getting their come-uppance after years and years of getting away with it.

  7. Nick, have you ever gone to a parent with a concern and not been believed?
    Have you ever gone to a teacher with a concern and not been believed?
    Have you ever gone to a line manager or employer with a concern and not been believed? Have you ever gone to an MP or councillor with a concern and not been believed?
    Have you ever gone to a doctor with a concern and not been believed?
    Have you ever gone to the police with a concern and not been believed?

    Unfortunately there are many boys, girls and adults who have received this treatment, with suicide as the only road to peace and freedom.

  8. Those responsible should be held responsible. They should lose their jobs...with due care to avoid the sort of situation which allowed the social services head under whose watch Baby P was murdered to claim compensation for the form of her dismissal....and be banned from working in that or any associated field.

    There is a great deal of not allowing boats to be rocked in the refusal to investigate what is reported. The social services teams have a view of their work which they do not wish to have challenged...police likewise, particularly where there is even a whiff of racial labelling, but while these groups who hold the key to investigation make preserving their self image a higher priority than what the law requires of them these disasters will be repeated.

  9. Grannymar: Goodness, that's a bleak scenario. It sounds like you must have experienced a few of those situations yourself. Certainly I've not been believed by my parents, but I can't recall any of the other possibilities. But you're right, some people are disbelieved so often that they're driven to desperate solutions.

  10. Helen: Indeed, when self-image is more important than children's welfare, it's hard to get to the truth of what's happened when there's a scandal like this. Those involved close ranks, refuse to talk and destroy vital documents. And then six months later, another major scandal because no lessons have been learned.

  11. This is absolutely appalling. Even if the girls were consenting participants, they were still children, victims of horrific child abuse and sexual abuse. In doing nothing to end and/or punish the abuse, the responsible authorities are as guilty as the perpetrators.

  12. Mike: Apparently some of the social workers and police thought it possible that the girls had consented to sexual activity. But how could there be any genuine consent when the girls were under such huge pressure to cooperate? And I agree, those who did nothing are as guilty as the perpetrators.

  13. It's reported today that Dermot Norridge, a community worker and ex-police officer, sent a string of emails to child protection staff about his suspicions of child sex abuse, but his warnings were ignored.

  14. This is a human problem as prevalent here as it is there but what has been happening in the UK has a primitive religious sanction and a mechanism that tries to hush it up for being either politically correct or for vote bank politics. In India currently a bit storm is blowing because of a BBC documentary where the rapist and his lawyers have blamd the victim!

  15. Ramana: Yes, I think there was a lot of politically correct hushing-up going on. I read about the BBC documentary. It seems that blaming the victim is as common in India as it is in Britain. Likewise the idea that rape is just normal male behaviour.