Child Abuse: Should we be more vigilant?

86956_8911Child 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.

 

 

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14 Comments

  1. July 18, 2014 / 9:25 pm

    Yes yes yes yes! When it comes to child abuse nobody should be immune from prosecution regardless of station, wealth or a respected place in the community. Vunerable children were put at risk for decades and everyone closed their eyes to what was going on. People still close their eyes to what goes on. Children who are going through unspeakable things usually go undetected, with signs people don’t see or refuse to see, because if they do, they’ll have to wake up to the fact that this happens, that 1 in 4 will experience abuse of some kind. Then there are the adults, who kept quiet and suffered or spoke up and lost everything or everyone, because nobody wants to know and people refuse to believe. People make noises about stopping abuse but with police, solicitors, judges, teachers and other respected members of society putting up a brick wall to prosecution unless there has been gross abuse to many children over maybe decades, and still not even then, unless the media get hold of it and they have no choice. Prosecution as an adult is not only traumatising but fruitless, as victims are torn apart by opposing council and assused of being complicit. This is often more than an already fragile mind can bear. The abuse is just the start. The abuser walks off, lives their life. The victim is left with memories and trauma they will never be able to bury deep enough to ever really have a normal life.
    Vicky (@aroundandupsidedown) recently posted..Challenging isms: Ableism in Media and the Fashion Industry – An Accurate Representation of the PopulationMy Profile

  2. July 18, 2014 / 6:11 pm

    It’s so upsetting to think we have to protect our children from literally everybody they meet. Even those in a position of trust. Just because someone has passed a CRB check does not mean they can be trusted with your children. All it means is they have never been caught doing anything. It is sadly coming clear many people in the public eye were never caught for many many years and because of their status they got away with things as nobody would believe the child.

    As you say, should you vet the parents of school friends? I know I don’t tend to quiz or find out much more about them when my children ask to stay for a meal or go round to play.

    All we can do is build trust with our children as we cant keep them locked away.

  3. July 17, 2014 / 3:33 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this post! It’s so sad when we have to think about all of the above and how it could impact on our children. I’ve done a lot of child protection training for the charity I volunteer for and we’re always taught to raise the alarm if we suspect anything. It’s important that we teach our kids from a young age to share anything that’s bothering them with an adult they trust in the hope that they will do something about it. If that person refuses to help, then ask another adult and keep going until you find someone who will do something! Keep communicating with your kids no matter what age they are and regardless of how they’re behaving. Sometimes there’s something going on in their lives that you need to know. Tell them that they can tell you anything no matter what!
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  4. July 17, 2014 / 3:21 pm

    It seems child abuse is everywhere at the moment, as Suzanne says above, when did it become so rife? My boys are 5 and I hate the idea that at such a young innocent age we need to explain to them about appropriate behaviour from and towards others with regards to to this issue.

    As Hazel says above, it is impacting on everyone, with family members no longer knowing how to act for fear of being labelled a ‘predator’.

    I’m not sure why we continue to be surprised by certain professions being involved in child abuse cases, my thinking is if a parent, who should be the one person a child can depend on for love and protection can abuse their child, then anyone can {I don’t mean they are allowed to, just that if you can’t rely on your parents, who can you?}

    I’m not sure what further measure we can take, do we deny our children their innocence and tell them everyone is a sexual predator just waiting to pounce or do we carry on as we, vigilant for anything out of the ordinary?

    Such an emotive topic, one I’m not sure we will ever find a satisfactory way to eradicate.
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  5. July 17, 2014 / 9:02 am

    Really thought provoking post. Thank you for including my little story. So sorry to hear about the man you knew, it really does seen like child abuse is much more widespread than we used to think and the internet gives a users extra ways of accessing and abusing children,
    But if any good has come out of the horrific and shocking cases of Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris etc its that we’ve all learned that just because someone is famous or in a position of authority they can still do wrong. Nobody should be blinded by celebrity or authority any more. We need to let our children know what’s safe and what isn’t and that they must speak up if anything concerns them.
    But the sad thing is, there are many vulnerable children out there who won’t speak up, and abusers have always been very cunning at spotting this in a child and targeting them.
    The reality is child abuse will never go away, but we all need to be as vigilant as possible in protecting children.
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted..Loud ‘n’ Proud: OliverMy Profile

  6. July 17, 2014 / 7:24 am

    We haven’t broached any of this at home yet. Beaver is just 5. I do wonder though what are the learnings to come out of Rolf Harris and Jimmy Savile? Will we be facing similar accusations in 25 years about personalities in our kids’ lives today? How will we prevent it happening again. There will always be people preying on children won’t there?

    A thought provoking post Vic x
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  7. Emma from over at LIFE AS IT IS
    July 16, 2014 / 9:34 pm

    Vicky,

    As a parent that was abused as a child, I live this with my two small daughters regularly. I cannot stand it when my children sit on the laps of men – family friends. I ask them to get down by distracting them somehow. I read recently that 1 in 4 children will be abused. It is everywhere. We are right to be paranoid to an extent. The only way to protect them is to talk frankly to them. Remind them that NO ONE other than sometimes mummy, daddy or perhaps a doctor – with mummy there, can see their private parts. They should know to say NO! My daughter has already had three little boys ask to see her bits… these episodes of ‘natural curiosity’ is something she has shared with me – she is 5 YO – and I’ve since shared with their parents. Your (sometimes young) children need to know that all of this is inappropriate. Full stop.
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    • July 17, 2014 / 6:57 am

      Oh Emma, I had no idea, I am so sorry. You are one very brave and amazing lady to get through it. You are such a wonderful person – and fantastic Mum. I totally agree with you. Children need to understand what is right and wrong. Thank you so much for commenting on what is a very difficult subject for you xx
      Victoria recently posted..Prose for Thought – A Clearer, Brighter, New Me.My Profile

  8. Jane Willis
    July 16, 2014 / 8:47 pm

    It needs to be easier for children to talk. To their parents, to their teachers, to absolutely ANY adult who isn’t directly involved. We ned to develop a culture of listening to and beliveing children. Five years ago I lost a very dear friend, who drank himself to death as a result of abuse by a teacher that had blighted his teens and gone on to destroy his adult life. He’d been warned that bad things would happen if he told anybody, so he told nobody. Not his parents, not even his brother. Who, it turned out after his death, had been experiencing exactly the same abuse. If we can put an end to the silence, we can start to work pn putting an end to the problem. As long as the veil of secrecy exists, the abuse will continue

    • July 17, 2014 / 6:55 am

      I totally agree with you Jane – I think that children should understand that they should be able to talk about anything and not feel bad or be worried that bad things can happen. That is so very sad about your friend, #I am so sorry 🙁 Thank you for your comment x
      Victoria recently posted..Prose for Thought – A Clearer, Brighter, New Me.My Profile

  9. July 16, 2014 / 7:43 pm

    I just feel really sad that we even have to consider these things. When did it become so rife? Or was it going on when we were kids and people turned a blind eye or were totally ignorant to these things? As Hazel above said, it’s a very sad state of affairs when we have to start considering whether to allow our child to go for tea with someone because we don’t know the parents. It just encourages a deep sense of distrust of everyone and teaches our children that too. But maybe that’s the right thing to do? I don’t know. But I do think we need to start with educating our children with what is and isn’t acceptable. Telling them when to speak up. We should start at home and it should be talked about in schools. I guess it seems obvious that any paedophile would be a Scout leader or teacher or another position where children are easily accessed. Sickens me.
    suzanne3childrenandit recently posted..My View Right NowMy Profile

    • July 16, 2014 / 7:47 pm

      I totally agree with you Suzanne and I often wonder the same thing. I do feel the way forward is to educate our children though – and help them to understand what is right and wrong. Thank you for commenting x
      Victoria recently posted..Child Abuse: Should we be more vigilant?My Profile

  10. Hazel Christopher
    July 16, 2014 / 6:31 pm

    “So, what do you think? Do safety measures need to be more stringent?”

    I just don’t see how we can make children more safe sadly. I know someone who was abused by their parents, I know two people who were abused by teachers, I know someone abused a step uncle, one by a cousin, one by a man down the road.

    The landlord of our local pub was convicted of having indecent images. A man my mum used to clean for, a scout leader, was convicted of being a peadophile.

    Abuse just seems to be everywhere. A lot of people slip through the net because unless someone has a previous conviction of such a crime you will just never know that they are that way inclined – a lot are in a position of trust or people of social standing.

    I am too scared to send my child to scouts, too scared to send him to Sunday school, too scared to send him anywhere. I feel, often, that he might miss out but it’s a risk I won’t take.

    I’m a single parent and I am too scared to get involved with a man in case they end up being a peadophile, it happens a lot, they target single parents sometimes.

    I hate how much child abuse effects EVERYONE. Grandparents and Uncles too scared to watch their young relatives, mothers too scared to let their children out of their sight, teachers too scared to comfort a child with a hug once they’ve fallen over ….

    I just hope this investigation will send out a strong message to people viewing these images. You WILL be caught, it might not be today, it might not be tomorrow, but it WILL happen.

    • July 16, 2014 / 7:46 pm

      I am so sorry you have had so much local experience of abuse. That is so awful Hazel. I do hope you are right about the investigation. Thank you for your comments x
      Victoria recently posted..Child Abuse: Should we be more vigilant?My Profile

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