Oh such tragedy. Oh such stupidity.
Cameron suggests that the answer is to criminalise those who don’t report sex abuse. It’s not. It’s nowhere close to being the answer.
The first thing to do is to criminalise the rapists. Pursue and convict enough of them. It’s a hard job for the police, it will upset some people and it will be even more damaging for the children involved who will have to give evidence against their abusers. But what went on was vile criminality. If we can’t convict the men who did this, how on earth will it help by also criminalising people who don’t report it?
But convicting the rapists is the easy bit. By far the hardest bit, and the only way the problem will be prevented in the future, is to find a way of looking after troubled children in care better. I don’t know how this can be done. Children who end up in care aren’t like the well-adjusted kids of your middle-class friends. Ending up in care itself is traumatic, on top of whatever it was that gets you there. They need lots more looking after, from the care worker or the foster parent, than your average well-adjusted middle-class kid, and every harassed middle-class parent knows that well-adjusted middle-class kids need a lot of looking-after. But the care system doesn’t provide the resources. And even if it could, there isn’t an inexhaustible supply of patient, loving and committed foster carers. I don’t have answers, but I do know that the problem is the broken care system.
There is also a problem in some of our communities. Perpetrators are also victims, of a culture, of a society that gives them the idea that carrying out these vile acts is anything other than, well, vile. The fact is that many of the perpetrators had Pakistani heritage. Muslim heritage. It seems that the problem, while it exists in all communities, may be more prevalent in the Pakistani community. Is there something in the way these young men have been educated that has led them to losing an appropriate moral compass? Have their values become confused between Western openness to sexual matters and the patriarchal attitude towards women prevalent in many Muslim communities? Let’s not jump to racist (or islamophobic) conclusions, but try and find out how we can help them and their younger brothers develop respect for themselves so that they can stand up and respect others.