Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: the Hopes and Fears

By Siobhan Pyburn
Sky News
July 9, 2015

Many fear an inquiry may never get to the bottom of what happened or why

As the long-awaited child sex abuse inquiry officially opens, Sky News asked people with a close interest in the process to tell us what they want it to achieve.

Siobhan Pyburn - Abuse survivor and founder of Young Survivor Network

I feel that the inquiry needs to focus on practical solutions rather than theoretical considerations, as all we seem to have right now are 'guidelines' and 'protocols' which don't actually need to be followed by organisations that work with children as a matter of legal obligation.

Sadly, recent scandals have demonstrated that colleagues of perpetrators are not above turning the blind eye to protect their own interests; the bottom line is, no one seems to want to face the scale and severity of the problem.

As a brand new organisation, we've been struggling both to secure funding and reach out to young survivors for whom the experience is relatively recent.

This is due not only to the inherent sense of shame that the abuse impacts upon its victims but also the sort of societal taboo we have against talking about it out loud.

Graham Wilmer - Survivor and Founder of The Lantern Project on Merseyside

Justice Goddard has at her disposal full powers of compulsion, substantial funds, the highest calibre legal minds, Government support and no limit of time to resolve the question that no other inquiry has ever been able to answer: why have so many children's lives been blighted through sexual abuse, while the institutions that serve to protect them have failed in their duty of care to do just that?

It is a question she is unlikely to be able to answer.

However, those of us, and there are millions of us, who still struggle with the toxic legacy of our past, must see her as the only hope we have in our lifetimes of seeing something that might look like justice for the wrongs we have suffered.

The stakes are high, and the forces ranged against her are far more powerful than she wants to admit, but they are there, and it remains to be seen if she can overcome them.

The process will be damaging, drawn out and ghastly, and her first rule: "to do no harm", will come to haunt her, as there can be no validation without re-victimisation.

Tragically, it is inevitable that, of the many victims who do come forward and testify to her inquiry, some will destroy themselves in the process, and there will be another inquiry to discover why that happened.

:: Survivor: Abuse Inquiry Will 'Lead to Deaths'

Richard Scorer - Leading child abuse lawyer, Slater & Gordon

Firstly, it needs to expose the reality of institutional child sex abuse, which has been pervasive over decades.

Secondly, it needs to properly account for past failings in the investigation and prosecution of child abuse, particularly allegations of abuse involving powerful institutions and public figures.

Thirdly, it needs to ensure that child abuse is prevented in the future.

That means: mandatory reporting; better court procedures for dealing with abuse cases so that this evil can be prosecuted effectively; making it impossible for insurers to obstruct the investigation and exposure of abuse in institutions; and a better system of civil redress.

Marilyn Hawes - Founder of Enough Abuse UK

The lack of understanding of the trauma suffered by thousands of people from abuse is appalling and a damning indictment of a gross legacy left from those in so called power.

The general public already view this inquiry with suspicion and doubt ... people already believe it will be another cover up.

Bob Balfour - Survivor and advocate

The Goddard Inquiry will need to be a lean process to be successful, both in collecting evidence and, as importantly, analysing it transparently and well.

Its dynamic birth processes haven't offered much hope that will be a robust exercise.

But in truth it was never going to be an easy birth - no matter how well managed or inclusive its survivor engagement was.

Justice Goddard is about to take us all deep into the roots of the most complex social issues our society faces, from drug misuse, mental distress to crime.

We are all going to hear stories of the most discriminatory behaviours, behaviours which have colluded with abusers, sometimes explicitly, but more importantly implicitly, by reinforcing the cultural silencing of victims.








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