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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Let’s look at bigger picture of abuse

THE continuing revelations in the Jimmy Savile affair do not fail to shock.

EM Darren McSweeney
Darren McSweeney

This last week has seen the original ITV Exposure team dig even further and uncover more allegations and suspicions that lift the case to yet another level. What has happened has rocked the nation, but when you look into the statistics, the main shock is that someone with such a high profile could get away with this.

On the flipside, there is a horrific realisation that many, many people without a high profile could be committing similar crimes.

There is some respite from such a gloomy situation in that some good could emerge from the public awareness. Firstly, it has thrown a spotlight on to the statistics – many people just will not realise that higher than one in every six children has suffered from sexual abuse. Read that again – one in six, or think of it as five in a typical class of 30 schoolchildren.

Secondly, more children who have suffered such horrific abuse may be encouraged to speak out.

The number of calls to the NSPCC helpline has increased by 200 percent in the month following the first Savile TV programme, an encouraging sign that victims may be more forthcoming in seeking help.

Another positive is that charities and organisations that support these victims have had their public profiles elevated. After years of underfunding, cutbacks and struggles, the public may be more willing to a) support these groups financially or b) join the fight to secure the funding and continued existence of these groups, campaigning to shelter them from the aggressive cuts we see all around us.

An encouraging sign is that thousands of people have downloaded the “What Can I Do?” leaflet from the NSPCC website in recent weeks, so at least people are reaching out and finding out more on an issue which has regularly been a taboo subject.

Let’s look at the bigger picture. Let’s make sure that everyone is aware of the “higher than one in six” statistic. Speak to your MP; ask them to make sure that charities such as the NSPCC have their budget contributions from central government ring fenced from any cuts.

On a local level, charities such as The Birchall Trust, who support affected victims in this area, need our help and support – there’s more information on their website at www.birchalltrust.org.uk.

Have a look – there’s a donate button on there too!

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