Yesterday’s Daily Telegraph ran a story with a headline that was disturbing by any measure. It read “‘Chilling’ levels of child-on-child rape in Middle England.” The story takes its cue from the launch of three reports from the Children’s Commissioner for England, published yesterday as part of the agency’s wider inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups.
It is hard to imagine a more disturbing crime than the sexual exploitation of children by other children. Moreover, it is plausible to argue – as the reports do – that the problem is at risk of being overshadowed by concerns about other forms of child sexual abuse. Nonetheless, the claim that such crimes are widespread is striking.
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Let’s get one thing straight. The threat from strangers is vanishingly small and has been for years – no matter what you might think from the tabloid headlines and distorted television coverage. What is more, the vast majority of child murders are committed by their parents, not by strangers. However low the risk, it is tempting to think that we – and children – have to be prepared for the worst: that we have no choice but to frighten them, in order to protect them. Tempting, but disastrously wrong. For it ignores the corrosive impact of the fear of strangers.
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Last night the BBC website streamed a live 3-hour debate about the recent riots, hosted by the producers of Today. It looked at policing, families/parenting and morality, using a lively format of 3 sets of panellists, and lots of audience input. Continue reading →
© Rudolf Abraham
I live in one of the areas hit by the London riots. On Sunday night, at least ten shop windows in my local High Street were trashed. Shops at the end of my street have been closing early for the past few days, as a “precautionary measure”. Continue reading →