Dear Prime Minister
A year ago today I spent the afternoon with you in 10 Downing Street. I was there with a group of inspirational women; a survivor of the most recent Rotherham child abuse scandal, Jayne Senior the Rotherham youth worker and whistle-blower, the mother of one of the child victims, and Alexis Jay - who wrote the report that laid bare the horror endured by at least 1400 victims. As we had tea with you, you engaged with us as a father, not a politician. We were impressed that you showed a real interest and understanding of the issue. You and I then went next door to join most of the Cabinet to discuss the details of how the Government was going to respond to the proliferation of child sexual exploitation in the UK. The four-hour summit discussed my five point plan for tackling and preventing abuse and resulted in a series of commitments from Government. I left the summit inspired, finally something was going to get done.
Sadly, virtually none of those commitments have been delivered, indeed, your Government haven't even started the consultation on the definition of child sexual exploitation!
I am a Labour MP because I believe in social justice, equality, fighting for the underdog, fairness and protecting the vulnerable. I also believe that as a society, if we work together, we can achieve great things. I believe we can prevent child abuse. I acknowledge it is a bold statement and will probably take generations - but isn't it our duty to try?
We can't continue turning a blind eye and letting child abuse flourish in the shadows. We can't continue to let children finish their education without teaching them about respect for others, what boundaries are, how some secrets are bad secrets and that they have got a right to say "no". We need all our children to grow up knowing they will be believed, respected and supported if something bad happens to them. It is the duty of Government to make sure everyone in the UK understands what abuse is, what consent is and that there will be swift, significant penalties for anyone causing suffering to another. If abuse does occur, we need to make sure that victims are supported to become survivors and that the process of disclosure does not become another horror for them to endure. These are not big asks, they don't cost very much - indeed the costs in not implementing them are much greater. So why have you not acted on them?
Prime Minister, I urge you to do your part in preventing abuse and make good on your year old promise. For my part, I have launched dare2care.org.uk which brings together critical thinking, case studies, resources and information on preventing child abuse. My overarching aim is to empower people start the cultural fightback to banish child abuse to history, because, sadly, it looks like the Government isn't going to.
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