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Politics Today

Save the Child

todayMarch 24, 2016 7

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The News Hour

Sue Berelowitz, the Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England, says “Child abuse is so rife in Britain that there is not enough land in the country to build the number of prisons needed to house the perpetrators.” If that seems extreme Scotland Yard revealed this week that the cost of investigating child abuse has reached £1billion a year.  Paedophilia is believed to have occurred throughout history but the senior officer in charge of child protection reported that since 2012 child sex offences had increased by 80%. That may be because abuse is now reported more often than in the past, but it doesn’t diminish the need to work out how to prevent it.

That need is real. 1,400 children were sexually abused in Rotherham over a 16 year period whilst the local authorities turned a blind eye to the group grooming vulnerable girls for fear of being branded racist. This case and the abusive activities of Jimmy Savile and other celebrities led to a panic response and accusations about Lord Bramall, Lord Brittan and former P.M. Sir Edward Heath, which were closed recently without any evidence being found to justify charges. Better understanding is required both to protect children and the reputations of falsely accused adults.

Paedophilia, the sexual attraction to children, is a complex psychiatric disorder. It does not always lead to abusive behaviour. Whilst most cases of abuse involve men there are also women who abuse. Convicted abusers have included politicians and media celebrities as well as insignificant and powerless individuals. The evidence suggests that abusers often have low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and personality problems. One survey of paedophiles found that 46% of those studied had considered suicide and 13% had already attempted to carry it out. No cure has been found but there are therapies that can help to reduce the likelihood of abuse being committed.

Whilst detecting potential abusers before they commit the crime is difficult, a close monitoring of child pornography websites might help, though encryption makes this difficult.  Much more could be done in educating children at home and school in PSHE classes to beware of paedophile contacts. Grooming of children often happens online and parental supervision of their children’s online activity is an important safeguard. Sadly, child abuse sometimes involves family members in the home. Many of the 1,400 children abused in Rotherham were in care, and prevention there requires appropriate training and appointment of care staff. Teachers, carers, youth workers and anyone else in regular contact with children and young people should have and periodically renew a CRB certificate. Every organisation involving children should have child protection policies and personnel responsible for safeguarding youngsters.

Jesus indicated the priority child safety had for him when he said, “if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea”.  That should be our priority too, if not our method of safeguarding every child from abuse.

Written by: Miriam Emenike

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