Barnardos is accused of blaming a victim for their sexual abuse
This is a major headline today with a number of media outlets covering the story. We are not surprised to learn that an employee of the children's charity Barnardos wrote a letter in 1993 to survivor of child sexual exploitation, abuse and rape hold them responsible for the abuse. Victim blaming culture is endemic - working within the sector does not preclude people from believing rape myths and blaming victims. This is why we call for mandatory specialist training for all people who may come into contact with people who have experienced abuse - whether this be project workers at Barnardos to administrative staff at local housing offices. We are pleased to see that Barnardos is taking this historic case seriously and has promptly started an investigation.
However, we have concerns about this statement from Nigel Richardson, director of children's services at Leeds City Council, who has said that the council will investigate but that:
"We are confident that an incident like this would be managed very differently today."
We know that this level of systemic child sexual exploitation, abuse, and rape continues today. We've seen it in Rotherham, York, Sheffield, Bradford, Glasgow, London and, really, every single city, town and village in the UK. We know these cases aren't being managed differently. We know children are at risk and are currently being harmed every day. No one should be confident that they would deal with child sexual exploitation differently today than they did in 1993, 2003, or 2013. Confidence means you aren't listening to children - it means you are ignoring the clear evidence of child sexual exploitation within organised gangs.
We cannot ever be confident that we are dealing with child sexual exploitation confidently. Confidence becomes complacency. Our children deserve better.