According to the children’s charity the NSPCC, reports to the police over child sex abuse have increased by 38% from last year to this year. 31,000 sex abuse incidents were reported to the police, as against 22,500 in 2014. The charity suggests that the increase in reports are because children have become increasingly confident to speak out when someone has done something to them.
Reporting child abuse
According to the NSPCC, reports of child sex abuse had remained steady for many years but this year there was a sudden jump. The head of the NSPCC’s sexual abuse programme Jon Brown said in a BBC Radio 4 interview that, “children, young people and adults to speak about abuse that is either happening to them or has happened to them”.
Various authorities have pointed to high profile sex abuse cases that have made the media in the last year such as Rolf Harris, Gary Glitter and of course Jimmy Saville. This seems to have given children the confidence to speak out after such abuse taking place.
Police seem to be more willing to take children’s reports more seriously too, with the Prime Minister declaring such acts a ‘National Threat’, and all police forces prioritising child abuse incidents.
Many children and adults abused as children such as myself, never report the acts to police. A range of beliefs and thoughts go through your head, and ultimately you never speak out.
Tip of the iceberg?
National Police Chiefs Council lead for child protection Chief Constable Simon Bailey suggested that even with this leap in reports, “Increased reporting means we are dealing with unprecedented number of investigations, however, I do feel that this is the tip of the iceberg.”
Let’s look at the mental barriers people erect in their minds to reporting sex abuse:
- They don’t want their abuser to get in trouble out of misplaced loyalty
- They feel embarrassed. When I told someone as a young teen they mocked me badly and humiliated me in public.
- They are convinced it is somehow their fault.
- Some even feel this is a form of intimacy.
- They feel that no one will take them seriously.
Where this list is by no means exhaustive and merely part of my own experience, there is one thing that seems to have been removed from the list in many children’s minds – the fear no one will listen to them or take them seriously.
A scary thought
With so many victims never telling anyone for different reasons, and only now there being a serious increase in reporting of such crimes, 31,000 could be a relatively small proportion of the crimes committed.
If you’re reading this as a youngster, please take this advice – you aren’t tough enough to muscle through it. It doesn’t matter if you’re captain of the school First XV rugby team at school. If you want a future reaching your potential in life, speak to someone about it. The NSPCC is a great first port of call. They will listen to you – that’s their job. If you don’t – your abuser will have destroyed your life and will have won. Don’t suffer in silence – speak out!
You can speak in confidence to the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000. Children can phone childline for free on 0800 1111.