Sadly, that is the headline of a Guardian story where data from individual police districts were examined.
There has been a 60% increase in child sexual abuse reported to the police over the past four years, according to official figures which make public for the first time the scale of the problem in England and Wales.
A House of Commons library analysis based on freedom of information releases by individual forces shows that the number of offences of child sexual abuse reported to the police has soared from 5,557 cases in 2011 to 8,892 last year.
Child sexual abuse includes grooming, facilitating abuse and child rape.
At the same time the number of arrests for child sexual abuse offences in England and Wales has fallen from 3,511 in 2011 to 3,208 – a drop of 9%.
The 60 percent rise is both shocking, and gratifying, if that’s possible. It’s indeed sad that there are that many victims out there who’ve been silent up until now, but it’s also gratifying that victims are speaking out more than they used to. That means the message about speaking out, saying something to someone, etc. is getting out there.
But, if all of these police reports don’t result in any arrests, I fear that victims will go right back to not speaking out again. After all, what is the point of filing a police report if not to get someone arrested and charges made against them? Having claims of child abuse lead to no action by the police will not encourage the next victim to come forward.
For those of you in the UK, what do you think is the problem here? Are the increased reports creating a backlog, leading to no action being taken, are they unreliable, or outdated? What needs to happen to get the larger number of reports resulting in more legal action?
A reader sent me an email today about an online resource that they are promoting as part of Child Abuse Prevention month.
Their stated purpose:
The topic of child sexual abuse is hard to discuss and many people would rather just avoid it. We want to change that. According to estimates, only 5-10% of cases are ever reported.
Not only does the site provide a ton of information and links to resources about child abuse, and reporting child abuse, but it also has a searchable database of who to contact to report child abuse in the US.
Take a look, and keep it handy!
Apparently, it is newsworthy, but while the headline of this article may seem shocking, anyone paying attention to child abuse statistics already knows this is common.
Maybe some day the media will figure out that whole grooming thing and stop overstating the risk of strangers and actually educate parents on the real risks to their kids, which include raising kids who become targets for grooming, because they don’t have a safe, solid, home life.
the idea comes from the UK, where groups want to be able to file what amounts to restraining orders preventing anyone who appears to be grooming a child from being around that child or any other before a crime has been committed.
That all sounds well and good, and I’m all for finding ways to prevent abuse before it happens but I wonder about the chilling effect this will have on anyone, but especially men, who would simply avoid doing any volunteer work with children or interacting with children at all. I mean isn’t it bad enough that the article linked above even assumes we are talking about men being abusers?
I can’t help but wonder what sort of effect having no adults to coach soccer teams, no male teachers, etc. will have on kids. Giving the public this tool to, basically convict an adult of child abuse without a crime having been committed, because of a suspicion of “grooming”, could be doing more harm than good if it’s not closely monitored.
However, given our level of paranoia about even leaving pre-teenage children alone for 5 minutes, I can’t see this turning out well.
How about, instead of taking paranoid steps to protect “vulnerable” children, we take more steps to not raise vulnerable children in the first place?
Ally Fogg pointed it out earlier this week, in all the reports of the abuse ring in Oxfordshire, none of the 50 boys who were included as victims were mentioned at all. Recently, I read an article about rescuing sex trafficking victims and noticed that the authors of the article used the terms “Children” and “girls” interchangeably, as if there were no such thing as a make victim of sex trafficking.
But we know that isn’t true. We just don’t care. It’s tragic when a female child is raped, assaulted, or otherwise has sex forced upon them, but for males, it just doesn’t fit the narrative so it’s easier to just ignore that.
That doesn’t do anyone, male or female, any good. It only perpetuates the myth that a girl who is forced to lose her virtue, is ruined for life, and boys aren’t really harmed by sexual activity because we all know they enjoy it anyway.
Neither one of these is true. I have known many female survivors who are anything but ruined, they are strong, loving women capable of so much. I have also seen the devastation to growing boys who are forced to endure forced sexual activity and what that does to their fragile, young, psyche.
Can we all just admit that sexual abuse of boys and girls is a horrific crime and let it be? Why do we have to draw attention to the female victims only in an effort to gain more attention and sympathy? Are male victims not worthy of it as well?