Moral outrage comes easily when we hear the details of historical and recent child abuse and exploitation. The scale and consequences of events in Rotherham in particular leave most people scrambling for sensible comment beyond 'appalling', 'inexcusable' and 'something must be done'. But we need to do better.
Whether or not there are more papers to be found, I would encourage anyone with further information about past child abuse crimes to come forward. If your testimony can bring child abusers to justice and better protect children today, please speak up. Now is the time.... History will go on repeating itself until we learn one simple lesson - look out for and listen to children. They, in their own way, always tell us what is going on. We must all be ready and willing to take them seriously. In establishing an Inquiry with all necessary powers to get at the truth of what went on in the past, let's not take our eye off the ball for today's children. If you know or suspect abuse of a child please speak up, to us or to the police. Do it now.
Our report released today On the Edge showed a huge increase in children getting in touch about suicidal feelings. Last year (April 2013 - March 2014) we held 34,517 counselling sessions with children who talked about having suicidal feelings - 116% more than three years ago. Nearly 6,000 of these children had told a counsellor that they had previously attempted to take their own life.
I met Bryan, who is also 11. He loves cycling, but he's only allowed to cycle down the road as far as his mother can see him. One of the reasons that he can't go any further is that his older brother did. His brother ended up in a gang and he died six months ago. He was just 17. Being a mother in El-Salvador is a high-wire emotional act...
Homa, my middle sister "rebelled" in tiny, typical teenage ways, by ripping her jeans and listening to music. When Homa was 16 she overheard our stepmother and dad making plans for her to marry a 40-year-old. We'd met him when we'd been taken to visit the family, but we'd had no idea we were being displayed as potential brides.
If I had the urge to publicly accuse this man, I'd have to question myself and my motives. The only one I can think of is if I was stuck in a victim mindset and sought revenge. Thankfully I'm not. Behaving like a victim disenfranchises you, steals your integrity and keeps you stuck. Yes, they were responsible for what happened then but I am responsible for myself now.
Doubt and fear of getting it wrong must play on people's minds even if they are worried. Often there are no obvious, physical signs of neglect. But if a child you know shows signs of not being fed or clothed properly, is missing school a lot or is left unsupervised and alone inappropriately for their age, we urge people to alert the professionals. I remember speaking to Claire [not her real name], one of our many fantastic foster carers. She has been looking after a 15-year-old boy who came into her care about two years ago, having suffered years of neglect. She spoke of how he looked like an 'eight-year-old' because he had been so badly underfed...
In a practical sense, no single remedy can address this endemic issue. Instead a range of solutions, constituting a holistic approach, are required. Firstly, a truly independent inquiry should be commissioned - one which is not led by any of the institutions implicated in the case, and further not implemented by a high profile man or men.
Every day, we work with vulnerable children, many of whom have experienced or are at risk of child sexual exploitation. This horrific abuse has affected a number of children supported by our services, whether related to risks to those in residential or foster care, or to young parents receiving our help. Awareness must be raised and professionals, children, and their carers must be educated about the risks around exploitation, as well as ways to guard against it.
The press has a role to play in scandals of this type. We need them to highlight this kind of horror and help us try to understand how such sickening events can continue for so very long unhindered. But we need them to do it responsibly. Deciding that one person is to blame for a situation which has been going on for decades - and is probably going on in other areas of the country too - does them no credit.
The growth in portable USB devices and mobile storage means there is a disturbing trend of offenders increasingly bringing illegal images or videos into the workplace. In fact, many businesses are already unwittingly storing, and allowing the movement of, illegal images and videos across their networks.