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As a fairly streetwise Mother of two daughters, and Nanny to 4 boys aged from 4 to 12, I still cannot get to grips with the latest reported scale of child exploitation and sexual abuse in England that has apparently been going on over the last decade or more.
Do I think David Cameron’s latest wonderful idea to jail anyone who turns a blind eye to child abuse in the future, will make a difference? No, I don’t.
People will not be held accountable. One person will of course be sacked, or jailed, to make an example of them, but then it will all just be old news and forgotten.
After all, how many times, after some poor child has been horrifically treated, have we, as mature Grans and Nans, heard the words ‘ lessons will be learnt, there will be a full enquiry’, but the lessons are never learnt, and history predictably repeats itself.
What I find incomprehensible is that in some of the most tragic cases that have been in the news over the past 5 years or so, teachers, neighbours and extended family seem to have either been blind, deaf or completely stupid NOT to have noticed when a child that they regularly see appears to be unhappy, neglected, or withdrawn.
Why have they not shouted louder, got involved, knocked on doors, made phone calls, anonymously or otherwise, and left NO stone unturned until someone listened, and more importantly, been seen to take action.
Whilst this is slightly off course, as a dog lover and owner, it is MY job to protect my dog, to ‘read’ him if you like. Is he behaving normally, is he eating, drinking, sleeping, running and engaging with me, and other dogs, as he usually does. Has something upset him, his digestion, is he in pain, limping, biting his feet, or scratching his ears. If so, I look closer, watch, listen, feel, and do whatever it takes to help him
Shouldn’t that be the same with a child for goodness sake?
Except it’s not is it. For every news item about an abused or neglected child that makes us gasp at the horror of it all, someone must have heard or seen something. A happy child jumps and skips, is full of giggles, asks for sweets, and is cheeky. An unhappy child is withdrawn, solemn, scared, asks for nothing and says nothing.
A cared for child looks and smells entirely different to a neglected child. The warning signs are usually there, but are often simply ignored. After all people don’t usually want to get involved do they?
Instead of making sex education in schools, compulsory for 5 year olds, (which is another bright idea of some other Government idiot), wouldn’t it be a better idea, to educate EVERY child, about shouting very loudly to their Mummy or Daddy, Nanny or Grandad, if they are in any way scared, unhappy, nervous, anxious, about ANYTHING, safe in the knowledge that they will be listened to, they will be believed, and be reassured that none of it is their fault.
Shouldn’t we be spending more time educating every young girl and boy, about NOT keeping some secrets, even if they are asked to do so? Telling them specifically, who is allowed to undress them, who can help them do personal things, even if it is a hugely sensitive conversation to have.
For older girls, and boys, let’s crank that birds and bee’s lesson up a few notches and talk to them in language they actually understand. Yes of course they need the biological facts, but they also need cold hard facts, if they are to be armed well enough to deal with some of today’s warped human beings.
Most teenagers today are streetwise and know far more than us 60 something’s did at their age, so let’s enhance that knowledge, and teach them how to spot a ‘groomer’ at a 100 paces, and to put their often annoying, trappy little mouths to good use and shout very loudly and make sure someone listens.
I cannot believe that out of the hundreds of vulnerable young girls who have been exploited in Oxford and Rotherham, not one of them told a soul. Nobody noticed they went missing for days on end; nobody questioned where they were, nobody took a long hard look at any one of them and thought something was wrong.
Didn’t it strike anyone as odd, seeing young white girl’s constantly hanging round with older, Pakistani men? The policeman walking his patch, an off duty social worker, maybe a solicitor from a local practice? A high proportion of them were ‘in care’, but nobody cared did they. Really.
How about we, as adults, be more mindful, more nosey, and noisier if we feel, see or hear something that is not quite right. Instincts are not usually wrong.
Never mind about making an error of judgement. Better to do that and take the flack, than NOT say anything, not act on our instincts, our intuition, and leave another youngster in danger for one more second than is necessary.
Or do you think the more common thought process is ‘better not get involved’