Abuse survivors are showing Theresa May’s inquiry the way

The Conversation

Donna Peach
Lecturer in Social Work at University of Salford

The Home Office’s planned inquiry into child sexual abuse across all areas of British public life has had a troubled start to say the least. While its panel has at last begun to meet and hear evidence, its terms of reference and geographical scope are still under review, and the hunt for a suitable chair has been a major embarrassment.

Yet still, the inquiry is a vital attempt to challenge the vast scale of child abuse across the UK. The need for it has only been driven home since the inquiry was mooted; just recently, 13 men were jailed for a running a grooming operation in Bristol that sexually exploited teenage girls for financial gain.

As other huge cases in Rotherham and Northern Ireland have shown, one of the most challenging aspects of confronting the sexual abuse of children is that it is concertedly hidden. Those who purposefully use children for sexual gratification deploy power, fear and silence to protect their behaviour.

It is precisely our reluctance to think about the reality of child abuse and how it is able to persist that allows it to continue. If we want to eradicate it from our society, we all need to contribute to changing that.

Of course, based on what we do already know, the challenge is immense.

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