Just a quick answer to the stories in the media (again) over the last few days, particularly this article in the Guardian, where NSPCC chief Peter Wanless is quoted warning of a:
return to ‘dark days’ of 80s when children abused by people from ordinary backgrounds had little confidence their voices would be heard
Wanless needs to remember that the people making allegations of child sex abuse by VIPs ARE “people from ordinary backgrounds” – most of them at the time of the abuse were children in council-run care homes.
It doesn’t matter whether the abusers were “ordinary” or “VIP”.
What matters is that the abused victims/survivors need to be heard, and need to know that their allegations will be listened to, will be taken seriously and will be investigated.
Public awareness of the prevalence of child sexual abuse and of the prevailing culture of denial and suppression can only be a good thing.
Just as the sheer scale of Rotherham bought the issue of child sex abuse to public attention, leading to – hopefully – improvements in institutional responses to allegations of abuse and the prevailing culture of denial, so too VIP cases bring into focus the need to challenge this culture of victim-blaming and cover-up, in a way that “ordinary”, individual cases, unfortunately, do not.
Wanless writes that:
“There is a very real danger that children could be put at risk if we concentrate solely on celebrity offenders”
Actually, there is a very clear reason for concentrating on celebrity offenders.
It is that their offences appear to have been covered up by our state institutions – including the police, the security services and Westminster.
This is high level political corruption on a scale hitherto unknown in the UK.
Of course it needs to be exposed, and eradicated.
Wanless suggests that the VIP investigations:
“distract from the reality” and undermine the “significant shift in confidence and understanding of child sexual abuse” that has occurred in recent years.
How, exactly, can investigating allegations of the criminal sexual abuse of children by adults – of whatever background “distract from the reality”?
Surely the “reality” is that vulnerable children are abused by powerful adults, and it is this unequal power dynamic that makes it so difficult for children to speak out and to get justice.
The “ordinary” child abused by their “ordinary” parent suffers from this power imbalance, and so does a child abused by a VIP.
What is significant, however, is that in the case of VIP abusers, the power imbalance is magnified. It is not just the power of adult versus child, it is the power of the elite adult versus the child.
All the more reason, therefore, to ensure that justice is done.
Elite abusers need to be made an example of, so that children suffering at the hands of abusers from any background can have confidence that justice will not just be done, but will be publicly seen to be done.
Wanless claims that VIP investigations :
undermine the “significant shift in confidence and understanding of child sexual abuse”
In what respect? Like Rotherham, ALL investigations of child sex abuse allegations, particularly those where claims of cover up and suppression exist, need to be bought out into the open if victims and survivors are to have confidence in the justice system, and perpetrators are to get the message that their crimes will no longer be tolerated.
Yes, “VIP child abuse is not typical”. But VIP abusers like Cyril Smith and Jimmy Savile have been exposed as being very typical indeed of the swaggering confidence of child sex abusers from every background that they have nothing to fear, they will not be found out, and the children’s claims will not be believed.
The same justice of course needs to be meted out to VIP abusers as to ordinary abusers, Rotherham abusers, family abusers. This really ought to go without saying.
As long as the media keeps focusing on coming up with reasons to call off the investigations, the victims of “ordinary” abusers and VIP abusers alike are going to have “little confidence” that their voices will be heard.
The solution to this is not to abandon the investigations into VIP child sex abuse, but to demonstrate, to all child sex abuse victims/survivors, no matter who the abuser – that they will not get away with it.
No matter how long ago they committed their crimes, they will be bought to justice.
And no matter who they know, and how many powerful connections they have, they will be prosecuted.