The media won’t touch it, and Westminster ignores it but from time to time, a story breaks that’s so outrageous, that both the media and government bodies have no choice but to focus on it – that *it* is child abuse, and with a national scandal already unfolding in the wake of the Jimmy Savile revelations and more question marks raised over abuse in a home in North Wales, child protection campaigners were hopeful that this would be the start of a concerted effort by our coalition government to get to the heart of this issue.
And to be fair to David Cameron, he has in fact launched investigations into both scenarios and several news outlets (like the BBC, of course) are continuing to cover these stories. But is it enough and will it bring much-needed peace to both Savile’s survivors and the abused boys and girls in the care home in North Wales? Will it help to change the culture surrounding child abuse in this country, the detection and stopping of it and most importantly, will we come to terms with the reality that the Voice of the Child is still lost within the corridors of power?
Monetary compensation is always an option in cases like these, and we are beginning to see local authorities paying out huge sums to children who have been wrongly removed from loving parents and treated abysmally either in care or elsewhere, but compensation does not heal the wounds of a stolen childhood.
Survivors we have spoken to, all seem unanimous in their thinking: put proper safeguards in place and make sure this doesn’t happen again and we’ll feel assuaged. But will an investigation into what are effectively two high-profile cases, make a difference?
The Savile case is a double-edged sword: it has at once risen the profile of a very serious issue and yet it is unlikely on its own, address the thousands of abuse cases which are either unreported or reported but not being taken seriously. We know of several cases which are simply being ignored, but one such case which has gained something of a profile in the last few months and which we have written about before, is starting to make the headlines.
Phil Johnson and his brother were both subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of a priest in the Diocese of Chichester and their case illustrates the frightening gaps in child protection not just in the church, but nationwide: priests who have previous convictions for sexual offences against children have been allowed to be ordained and practice in the community.
But this case is making waves, and post the film the brothers produced with the BBC to highlight this abuse, they have recently been in the news again. In this newsreel, we see that two priests have been arrested on suspicion of no less than eight counts of abuse.
There are countless other cases like this one, but each brings up its own set of thorny issues: the reputation of the church, the culture of sweeping abuse under the carpet and the way in which we view children and the weight we give their word.
All of these issues need to be looked at and their examination is crucial for any progress to be made. For the time being, this area is still socially awkward and unlikely to garner more interest but it’s something that can’t be ignored and this article, written by James Rhodes, a very talented pianist whom we also follow on Twitter, is very much worth a read.