6th Dec, 2016

Blaming social workers and agencies for child abuse is wrong, say Coventry councillor

Les Reid 7th Dec, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

THE child protection agencies have been defended after statistics showed how most sexual abuse is carried out by friends and family and goes undetected.

Former Coventry City Council children’s cabinet member, Labour councillor Jim O’Boyle, says it shows why “blame” on social work professionals and ‘institutions’ can be unhelpful.

It comes as Coventry has among the highest rates in the country for children in care and with child protection plans – with the council’s children’s department still in Ofsted ‘special measures’.

He said: “I see the Children’s Commissioner has highlighted how most sexual abuse is carried out by friends and family and up to 85 per cent of it goes unreported. These are apparently shocking statistics but should they be so surprising?

“For years, there was always a saying many will remember: ‘Children should be seen and not heard.’ What on earth could that ever mean in a society always looking to keep up appearances?

“… Over the last few years we have seen countless historic investigations into all sorts of abuse mainly in so-called institutions coupled with well-known celebrities charged and rightly convicted of such acts.

“What this misses though is that it has been somewhat too easy to blame these institutions and the people who work in them and for the public and press to rather look down their noses at them and blame them for all the problems of abuse. The figures prove otherwise.

“That has been a gross disservice to victims and survivors of this vile abuse and it really is time for those who are charged by politicians and the public to protect our children and keep them safe to be given the credit they deserve, instead of too often being vilified when some terrible abuse is uncovered, which let me be clear is always wrong.

“This will only lead to less people wanting to do this work and therefore more children being put at risk.

“I support England’s Children’s Commissioner who said: ‘We must now wake up to and urgently address the most common form of child sexual abuse – that which takes place behind the front door within families or their trusted circles.”