Nearly one in four people experienced sexual abuse as a child. Why is this swept under the carpet?
Yet last month, the alarming statistic from the NSPCC that a child is subjected to a sex crime every twenty minutes in the UK went shockingly under-reported, in one tabloid relegated to a tiny box on page twelve, as if it wasn’t even worthy of being considered news.
It is in fact white men who are responsible for the majority of child sex offences in the UK , and in the greater Manchester area where this case took place, 95% of those on the sex offenders register are actually Caucasian. Yet rhetoric from various portions of the media reporting on this case included statements such as; “It has long been known that Asian men are associated with this type of crime”, and, “We can’t say that they haven’t got an issue in their community because we’ve now seen so many cases”.
Focusing so heavily on the ethnicity of the men involved in the Manchester case implies that the problem is confined to a particular minority, just as the last time sexual abuse was up for discussion on a large scale within the media was in the context of Catholic priests. I’m not attempting to downplay the awful abuse that took place within these contexts or suggest that the issues thrown up by these cases shouldn’t be debated. Yet to pass up the chance to address the true extent of the problem within society in the process is actually something that is hugely irresponsible, and unwittingly facilitates its continuation on a much wider scale.
Statistics indicate that approximately one in four people in the UK experienced a sex offence as a child, making this a very real and present social ill. Yet while there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous groups in Britain, there is only one Twelve Step equivalent group in the whole country dedicated to survivors of sexual abuse. The fact is that we live in a society where admitting to being a drug addict or alcoholic is regarded as more socially acceptable than admitting to being a survivor of a child sex attack. And it is this culture of shame, which is interwoven into the very fabric of our society, which perpetuates silence around the problem, allowing it to carry on.
What we need is ongoing openness around the issues surrounding childhood sexual abuse, and only then will it be truly possible to lift the stigma and make it easier for children and adults who have been affected to speak out and get help, as opposed to a culture where it is swept under the carpet and attributed to particular minority groups.Tagged in: abuse, asian grooming, children, NSPCC, paedophilia, sex offence
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