The serious case review into sexual abuse in Oxfordshire, commissioned by Maggie Blyth, found a series of failings by professionals who were ignorant to the signs of sexual abuse and had a negative attitudes towards child sex abuse victims.
Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, which speaks out for children who are sexually exploited and supports them to escape, said:
'It is a scandal that 373 children were subjected to sickening sexual abuse and this report highlights how they have been failed in the worst possible way. There was widespread ignorance among professionals on the signs of grooming and sexual exploitation so they didn’t see what was staring them in the face.
'As the shortcomings in Oxfordshire show, it is vital that young people are protected from exploitation. As highlighted by issues raised in the Serious Case Review, there must be a change in the law to recognise that vulnerable 16 and 17-year-olds need the same protection from abuse and exploitation as younger children. In a time of budget cuts, local services must always have the funding they need to protect children from exploitation.
'As was the case in this scandal, professional ignorance coupled with a culture of denial means that the victims of these horrific crimes were blamed rather than helped. We absolutely need better training for professionals on the signs of sexual exploitation, and for there to be a seismic shift in attitudes to ensure that all children, and particularly older teenagers, are seen and treated as children, not simply young adults.
'We must credit the young people who bravely gave evidence at the Oxfordshire inquiry. The findings starkly show that they should’ve been listened to at the outset. It is vital that children have the confidence to speak out and that where wrongdoing is exposed those responsible are fully brought to account.'
For more information or an interview, please call The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422, 07775 812 357 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.
Notes to editors
- The Children’s Society has helped change children’s stories for over a century. We expose injustice and address hard truths, tackling child poverty and neglect head-on. We fight for change based on the experiences of every child we work with and the solid evidence we gather. Through our campaigning, commitment and care, we are determined to give every child in this country the greatest possible chance in life.