Child abuse cases spark soul-searching in UK

2014-07-11 08:34
(File)

(File) (Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

London - A wave of revelations about long-hidden child sexual abuse has left Britons wondering what is wrong with their country, but experts say they are simply facing up to a problem that exists the world over.

"Child sexual abuse thrives on denial and secrecy. It's an incredibly difficult thing to admit to and to talk about, and the UK is not alone in that," said Jon Brown, lead official on sexual abuse at the NSPCC children's charity.

"But unfortunately we are now being forced to face it squarely and look at the reality of what's been going on."

Britain has seen high-profile child abuse cases before but the revelation in 2012 that late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile was a prolific sexual predator opened the floodgates.

Claims of abuse in care homes

Abuse by other celebrities such as Rolf Harris emerged later and ministers this week launched a review into decades-old rumours of a paedophile ring involving politicians and a cover-up by the establishment.

Ministers also announced a wide-ranging inquiry into how institutions have failed to protect children, following a myriad of claims of abuse in care homes, schools, hospitals and churches.

Jon Bird, a victim of childhood abuse who works for the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), says this official recognition of the scale of the problem is a breakthrough.

"It really is a sea change in attitudes - I never thought it would happen in my lifetime," he told AFP.

'Watershed moment'

Bird was raped by a stranger when he was four years old, but his mother told him to try to forget about it.

When he was sent away to boarding school at the age of eight he was abused again, this time by his headteacher. But he kept silent.

"People just didn't want to talk about it," Bird said, adding that without the revelations about Savile, "we still wouldn't know about all of it".

Dr Kieran McCartan, associate professor in criminology at the University of the West of England, says the high-profile cases have contributed to a "watershed moment".

"We are becoming more open to conversations about sexual violence. People are starting to realise that anyone can be a sex offender and anyone can be a victim," he said.

'No worse than elsewhere'

Protestant Britain had largely escaped the major scandals over abuse in the Catholic Church seen in neighbouring Ireland and in the United States, and the latest revelations have led to national soul-searching.

The NSPCC estimates that one in 20 children has been sexually abused in Britain, 80% of them by someone in their family circle - a number that seems shockingly high.

Global comparisons are difficult, due to a lack of data and different cultural attitudes toward the problem.

But Professor Lorraine Radford, a social policy expert at the University of Central Lancashire who has just completed a review of child sexual abuse for Unicef, says there is no evidence that Britain has a particular problem.

"The UK is not particularly high on child sexual abuse compared to the US or to Switzerland, for example, where comparable data exists," she told AFP.

"Highest rates of child sexual abuse tend to be found in the US - although this has recently declined, according to US researchers - in several African nations and in some Latin American nations."

Why does this happen?

Many hope the new willingness to confront abuse in Britain could help prevent it, alerting adults to the warning signs and giving children the confidence to report and repel offenders.

But there are concerns that yet another official inquiry into the failure to protect children - the first in Britain was in 1945 - will fail once again to address why the abuse happens in the first place.

There is a lack of research about sex offender behaviour and opinions about what drives it vary widely.

"We never really get to grips with why this happens," said Alyson Leslie, a former social worker and child protection expert who is currently involved in investigating care home abuse on the Channel Island of Jersey.

"If we really want to be serious about prevention, that's where we've got to put the bulk of our effort and attention."

Read more on:    uk  |  child abuse
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Gordons Bay - 18:30 PM
    Road name: R44 Faure Marine Drive Both Ways
    ROAD CLOSED at Suikerbossie Drive due to roadworks until 5am - traffic diverted - expect delays
  • Wednesday Kuils River - 18:01 PM
    Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound
    ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - expect delays
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Pre-order the Xbox One

Get this all-in-one entertainment system with live TV, movies, social networking and gaming. Pre-order now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 3G 9300

Keep it together Text. Email. Social. With all the different ways to...

From R2499.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Your heart is big and you are sensitive to the needs of those around you. Your humanitarian side is emphasized today and you may...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.