Thursday, 28 August 2014

Rotherham

The full report is here. I haven't read it: it sounds far too horrible. I've read the concise executive summary, which says "It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered" and that's quite enough for me.

This bit from the executive summary is about a subject that is making a lot of people pretty angry.

"By far the majority of perpetrators were described as 'Asian' by victims, yet throughout the entire period, councillors did not engage directly with the Pakistani-heritage community to discuss how best they could jointly address the issue. Some councillors seemed to think it was a one-off problem, which they hoped would go away. Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so."

People are right to be angry about. "I didn’t want to appear racist’ is the ‘I was only obeying orders’ of our age", the headline of one piece, is going too far: a fairer comparison is with other forms of semi-institutionalised child abuse, of the kind that seems to have taken place within Catholic institutions and care homes. That, it seems to me, indicates the proper level of outrage, namely a high one.

But I was also interested in this aspect of the case: "Police gave no priority to CSE, regarding many child victims with contempt and failing to act on their abuse as a crime. ... . Some at a senior level in the Police and children's social care continued to think the extent of the problem, as described by youth workers, was exaggerated, and seemed intent on reducing the official numbers of children categorised as CSE." Remember that we are talking about the period 1997 to 2013. This is a period during which enlightened opinion has been pretty sympathetic to victims of this sort of thing. What was it about these children that made them be considered unsympathetic?

Frankly, another kind of prejudice seems to have been in place, something that meant that young white girls from bad backgrounds were not treated as children. There's something very horrible about that. No doubt some soul-searching among the 'Pakistani-heritage' community is called for, but also some soul-searching among the different sections of the majority white population: there are clearly some sections that treat their own children differently from other people's.

Below the break are some more excerpts from the report illustrating this point.


"Child A (2000) ...  was 12 when the risk of sexual exploitation became known. ... However, the CID representative argued against the category of sexual abuse being used because he thought that Child A had been ‘100% consensual in every incident’."

"Child C (2002) was 14 when sexual exploitation was identified. She was referred several times to children’s social care between 2002 and 2004 because of family breakdown. ... Several initial assessments were carried out and some family support was offered. The case was then closed. The social worker’s assessment was that Child C’s mother was not able to accept her growing up."

"Child D (2003) was 13 when she was groomed by a violent sexual predator who raped and trafficked her. Her parents, Risky Business and Child D herself all understood the seriousness of the abuse, violence and intimidation she suffered. Police and children’s social care were ineffective and seemed to blame the child. ... An initial assessment accurately described the risks to Child D but appeared to blame her for ‘placing herself at risk of sexual exploitation and danger’."

"Child H (2008) was 11 years old when she came to the attention of the Police. ...  Less than a month later, she was found in a derelict house with another child, and a number of adult males. She was arrested for being drunk and disorderly (her conviction was later set aside) and none of the males were arrested." This is a good example. Clearly the fact that none of the males was arrested is terrible and potentially illustrative of a desire to avoid accusations of racism. But why was the girl arrested? What was going through the minds of policemen who saw that situation and decided that a child was to blame?

No comments:

Post a Comment