Why did those there to care for Rotherham’s children look away?
Sadly, it is not the extraordinary detail of the abuse catalogued in today’s report on Rotherham which is so shocking.
In recent years, a number of high-profile court cases focusing on the crime of child sexual exploitation have shown just how brutal and cruel the men who groom girls as young as 10 or 11 for sex can be.
We’ve heard testimony of girls being brutally raped, beaten, terrorised and burnt. It is often part and parcel of this crime. Today’s report confirms that for the children abused in Rotherham over a period of 16 years, such violence and humiliation was commonplace.
But the most shocking aspect of today’s report is the sheer scale. 1,400 children exploited in a decade and a half according the independent report. 1,400.
And perhaps most appalling of all the terrible detail, that professionals and organisations there to care for some of the most vulnerable children in society looked away.
Professor Alexis Jay accused the local council of “blatant” collective failures. At a senior level, she said, police and children’s social care felt the problem was being exaggerated.
It’s clear that in Rotherham – as in the other towns and cities where the issue of grooming and child sexual exploitation has come to light – the children being abused were often not believed or simply ignored. The value of their lives seemed to count for very little.
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