Monday, 12 May 2014

Observer Editorial

I got quoted and name-checked in the opening sentence of the Observer's leader yesterday. Very gratifying.

But even more gratifying was this passage
There are changes in the law that should have happened long ago. New legislation making emotional neglect of children an offence is expected in the Queen's speech in June, at last bringing Britain in line with the rest of the world. But just as gaping a hole in this country's child protection system is an extraordinary lack of a duty to report the abuse of a child.

Currently, if an adult is accused of an offence against a child within a school or any institution, there is no statutory obligation to report it to the police or an independent authority. In effect, this permits headteachers and other officials to act as judges: too often, campaigners say, cronyism or laziness allow a complaint to be sidelined without proper investigation.

In the children's homes of North Wales, in Rochdale and in the private schools of the rich, we have seen enough evidence of adults in authority acting in concert with each other to promote and cover up appalling crimes against children. This must stop; a mandatory duty to report allegations of abuse to an external authority should become law. In much of Europe and Northern Ireland, it already is. There is no need to wait for any inquiry into abuse to set out the necessity.
I don't think any British paper has come out in favour of mandatory reporting in quite such unequivocal terms as this. Such decisiveness makes a refreshing change from the NSPCC's attitude.

Tom Perry also had a Letter to the Editor published in the Observer yesterday. Here are two short excepts from it.
Whenever an abuse incident is exposed, we hear from all quarters that "everything is different now".  My response to this is very simple: Southbank International school, Hillside first school, Bishop Bell, Little Heath primary. The very recent failures in child protection at all these schools contradict any such assertions.  ... Your child has no statutory right to have his or her known rape reported to anyone. Private schools are presented with a further conflict of interest by the Department for Education's "statutory guidance", because no law is broken for failing to report the worst news any fee-receiving institution can inflict on its balance sheet.


  1. If mandatory reporting had been in force in the 1970's, the crimes of Father David Pearce at St Benedict's School in Ealing would would have been stopped decades ago.

    Former St Benedict's pupil (1975 - 1982).

  2. The lawyer Richard Scorer has just published an excellent book entitled "Betrayed" about the English Catholic Church and the sexual abuse scandal.

    Chapter 10 "Monks and boys together" deals with the crimes committed by Benedictine monks and pays particular attention to St Benedict's School.

    It is well worth reading.

    1. Here's a link to an article written by Richard Scorer about the book:

  3. Old Priorian 196110 June 2014 at 11:31

    Having just finished reading "Betrayed", I am absolutely appalled that the Catholic Church still seems to be in denial about the consequenses of sexual abuse on the victims. I understand that the majority of the clergy are not sufficiently trained in the proper counselling of victims, and this needs to be remedied as soon as possible. The Heirarchy in the UK must act now to ensure that such training is put in place now and put an end to this scandal. I recommend that everyone reads the book.

    Given the scandals of the past few decades, and the apparent refusal by the Church to accept any responsibility, it is no wonder there are so many lapsed Catholics today. I regret that I am one of their number - I have no wish to be.