When Safeguarding becomes Smearing – the Media and child abuse investigations

This is the Guardian article on the reports that pop-star Cliff Richard is not going to be charged for historic child sex offences.

Notice how the Guardian does not miss the opportunity to drag in a repeat of the (totally unproven) allegations. This appears to be how the Guardian is determined to report these cases. They did the same with another aging person against whom allegations were made and no charges pressed; see here for our report.

In today’s world of ahem ‘Safeguarding’ to be accused is to be guilty.

The real questions the newspapers should be asking are about what the police are doing. Here are some starters:

i. How can it have cost £800,000.00 to investigate a handful of claims? Given that there is (presumably, otherwise there would have been a court case, no forensic evidence) how much does it cost to interview say 10 people?  This is money that could be spent on, say, running 5 youth clubs for a year in deprived areas.

ii. How can these ‘investigations’ be permitted to drag on for months? Again; how long does it take to arrange and conduct a handful of interviews? – Part of the answer to this one of course is that the game is to put the aging pop-star / retired general / MP out to hang and then sit back and wait for anyone to phone in with an allegation. This is the process that takes time.

iii. Why, when it is found that there is no case to answer, do we always have the mealy-mouthed ‘insufficient evidence’ – which is deliberately worded to avoid admitting the innocence of the accused. (From a perspective of royal power of course all who are not on the side of royal power are guilty).

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Pants Propaganda

This is a story in the Daily Mail about how a 13 year boy was allowed to do a sleepover with two boys aged 7 and 6. Not surprisingly something untoward happened.

The story looks like it was co-written with the NSPCC’s propaganda department. The bullet-point headings to the story are:

  • Alana found out sons Ethan, seven, and James, six, had been assaulted
  • Perpetrator was friend’s son in his early teens who stayed the night
  • He showed them child porn images and then abused them
  • NSPCC’s ‘underwear rule’ helps young children understand sexual abuse

The last point of course is not a “fact”. It is a sales-point for the NSPCC. (Indeed none of the other points are facts either. The alleged abuse is being investigated by the police and no determination has been made yet about whether it even happened).

The story is that a mother of two young boys (aged 6 and 7) made friends with another Mum in the neighborhood. The other Mum had a son aged 13. The first Mum invited the other Mum round. When it was time to go the 13 year old son of the second Mum asked if he could stay over in the bedroom of the 6 and 7 year olds. He was allowed to. Later the first Mum found child porn on the tablets of her 6 and 7 year olds. And subsequently, thanks to the NSPCC’s underwear rule, she was able to find out that the 13 year old had (allegedly) sexually interfered with her 6 and 7 year olds. Thanks, then, to the NSPCC’s underwear rule the “terrible truth” came out.

There are several characteristic features of this story.

Firstly; the claim that the two young boys were abused is in fact just an allegation which is being “investigated by police”. This doesn’t stop the Daily Mail reporting it as a matter of absolute fact.

This whole passage reads like an advert for the NSPCC:

‘After I’d found the child abuse images I was really worried about Felix and what had caused him to access these images but I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if the images I’d seen were just boys being curious online or if it meant something more sinister. I spent the day crying about what to do.’

In turmoil, Alana spoke to one of the boy’s teachers who recommended calling the NSPCC Helpline for support.

She recalled: ‘She explained that they’d be able to advise on whether the incident should be reported to Children’s Services and what the next steps should be.

‘It felt comforting to think that the decision about whether to report it would be taken out of my hands and made by a professional. It made it a lot easier for me not having to call the police.

‘I called the NSPCC Helpline when I got home that morning. The lady I spoke to at the Helpline was lovely. When she heard that I was getting upset she calmed me down by telling me that I’d absolutely done the right thing by calling them.

‘She explained that she’d have to log the incident with Children’s Services. But the best piece of advice that she gave me was to speak to the boys again and make sure that nothing else happened that night.’

Alana was advised to speak to her sons using the charity’s ‘underwear rule’.

The great British peado scare

Up until some point in the nineties the most dangerous place for a young person to be was in the “care” of their local authority. Sexual, emotional and physical abuse was prevalent. Social workers turned a blind eye to it. Possibly because it was an effective way of controlling kids who would otherwise be out of control.

At some point in the late eighties and nineties there was a revolution in public opinion. The media covered a

Job Advert: work for government funded charity project with vulnerable young people

Here at Action for Kids we have a fantastic voluntary opportunity for you.

No experience needed. All we require is a dedication to helping vulnerable young people and a positive attitude. Gain real experience in this area helping the most vulnerable young people. Free training.

We are a little short on our quota of Safeguarding incidents this year so don’t be surprised if within a few weeks you are accused of something. It’s all perfectly normal. Your line manager will hold a Kangaroo court and will interview you and write it all up in the logs. No worries!

We do ask applicants to explain why they want to work with vulnerable young people. It is not that we suspect you or want to accuse you of anything. It is just that, well, we all think like paedophiles these days. What better way to catch a thief than to think like one?! (-: And so; all applicants must demonstrate that they think about young people as sexual objects – just so long as you know you mustn’t touch them; or we’ll all get into trouble.

DBS checks – their real purpose

I’ve just signed up for an agency to do support work with young people. My first shift is tomorrow.

I’m given the location where I have to be and told to bring my CRB form. I hum and ha a bit and say slightly evasively it is in my ‘filing cabinet’. Basically I don’t want to turn this into a horrible situation where the main thing about me as I turn up to work with young people is that I have a certificate which shows I’m not a (convicted / charged)