Child abuse is always a difficult subject to discuss. Today a report was published by the BBC stating that more than 650 suspected paedophiles have been arrested as part of a 6-month operation called Operation Notarise targeting people accessing child abuse images on line. The investigation involved 45 police forces across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and saw “unprecedented level of co-operation,” the NCA said. Officers searched 833 properties and examined 9,172 computers, phones and hard drives.
This news is bad enough, but then you discover that many of them are in a position of trust. Teachers, doctors, former police officers, scout leaders, a grandfather, a foster parent. Apparently the NCA said that 431 children had been protected as a result of these arrests and 127 of them were at immediate risk of harm.
It really does start to make you wonder who on earth you can trust with your child. Do you send them round other people’s houses to play with their children before vetting them? Do you trust the teacher with 20 years of service? Do you trust the old man at the bus stop wanting to chat to your daughter? Do you trust the doctor checking your child’s body for a rash? Do you trust the leader of the local cub scout group?
I know that Sarah over at Mum of Three World recently wrote a post about her daughter wearing a leotard as they walked her brothers to Scouts. Her daughter had run up the road in a game with her brother and a man had slowed down in his car to look at her. This worried her and she was still concerned about it when it come round to bed that night. She is no longer going to wear a leotard in public.
I had my own first-hand experience of someone I knew, someone I had never expected, being involved in child abuse images on line.
I belong to a drama group where I used to live. One of the members, an older man, a member of the local bowls club who seemed to be a decent member of the community, directed me in a play a few years back. He had met Grace, stroked her hair and spoken to her. Then, 2 years ago, he got arrested and convicted. It sickened me and made me cry. It also made me think ‘what if?’
With the Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris cases now coming to light, it makes me wonder how many people have been in a position of trust for oh so many years and never really been checked? And how far do you go with your trust?
The other way to handle this is to ensure that you are helping your child know right from wrong. To ensure that they know that they can talk to you if they are uncomfortable or uncertain about something and that nothing needs to be ‘a secret’. The more relaxed I am with Grace and her talking to me about anything and everything, the better I feel about the fact that she will confide in me if she ever needed to. She is truthful with me, and I am with her.
Grace recently watched a really useful Newsround special over on CBBC called ‘Caught in the Web‘ all about staying safe online, with a page of Stay Safe facts. She really took in the information and understood it, with tips that can also be used outside of the internet.
So, what do you think? Do safety measures need to be more stringent?
I will be on the Nick Ferrari show on LBC tomorrow morning at 7am discussing this report.