Well it’s all hit the proverbial fan then. Recent revelations about the late Jimmy Savile and his propensity for praying on young and vulnerable people have led to the police and the BBC carrying out investigations. It’s as if the floodgates have opened and so many people who were previously silenced have found their voices. There had been rumours about Savile for years, but only now, with a recent documentary have the claims been brought to the public’s attention. Funny how so many people and organisations can now wring their hands and stress over why nothing was done sooner.
‘Oh but it was a different time, a different world back then.’ And they all pat themselves on the back reassured that nothing like this could happen nowadays.
Well wake up world, of course it happens nowadays, the recent revelations over Rochdale prove it. There children went forward to report that they were being abused and nothing came of it, it was just all swept under the carpet. On a daily basis children are trying to tell of the abuse they are living with and no one is listening.
When it’s small children it’s dismissed as their imagination or as them misinterpreting someone’s meaning. When its older children it’s seen as lies to get back at someone. When it’s teenagers it’s seen as them trying to get people into trouble. At the same time, when a child or young person is believed, suddenly people swoop in from on high to ‘rescue’ them. They are quizzed, challenged, examined, cross-examined and generally dis-empowered, and then we are surprised when they retract their allegations and say it never happened. Oh dear, we say, that must have been just another child telling lies to drag some poor person’s name into the mud. And we move on to the next child needing saved. In the meantime, the child that retracted is left to try and pick up the pieces of their life.
It’s time we started to change the way we think of children that are experiencing abuse, they don’t all want ‘saved’ or to see the abuser ‘punished’, they want support and understanding and, most of all, they want the abuse to stop. Let’s stop trying to pressure children into telling before they are ready and actually work at supporting them and empowering them to move forwards with their lives. Let’s share information about known abusers so we can limit their access to children, even if we can’t get the evidence to get them put away. Let’s start listening to the children and young people and finding out what they want to happen. Let’s start having a true and honest discussion about the abuse that is experienced by so many of our children.
Maybe then we won’t be here in another 30 years wringing our hands at some awful revelation and saying ‘oh, it could never happen nowadays’.