We need to tackle the victim blaming culture that perpetuates child sex abuse by Siobhan Fention
Following high profile cases, such as the inquiry into career and crimes of TV presenter Jimmy Savile, police have been overwhelmed with reports of child sex abuse. New figures show that cases are now being reported at a rate of 100 a month; by 2020, police anticipate that they will be investigating a staggering 200,000 cases.
That news, however, is bittersweet. It is at once disturbing and heart-breaking to see how frighteningly common such crimes are, yet also a relief that many victims and survivors who have kept silent for fear of being ignored or ridiculed are now coming forward in the faith that they will finally be taken seriously.
On the same day that the police released these figures, another worrying statistic was revealed. Research commissioned by the Department for Education found that one in three individuals who have suspected a child they know is being abused did nothing to act on their suspicions. Fear of having misread a situation, potentially ruining someone’s life by wrongly tarnishing them with such a serious accusation, is cited as the biggest factor which deters reporting suspected crimes.
If we are serious about eradicating abuse, collective cultural responsibility is just as important as individual victim empowerment. Every delayed report or silent witness could be a missed opportunity to save a child.
This article was originally published in The Independent on 21.5.16. You can find the full article here.
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