Thursday, October 29, 2009

When so many high-profile child abuse cases are in the news, it's sometimes hard for one to stand out, but this one manages it. Being so used to reading and hearing of terrible acts of inhumanity, I find my visceral reactions to situations like these increasingly rare. Rationally and logically, I abhor and condemn the acts, but it takes a lot to make me feel physically sick, as I did reading that report.

And yet in that terrible catalogue of events, there is a glimmer of hope, decency and humanity. The mother of one of the victims is quoted as saying: "[F]or those involved in paedophile behaviour to identify it in themselves and know where to seek help, society must be prepared to discuss this issue. We need to allow an openness within society of where to seek help, just as alcoholics go to AA and gamblers go to GA. Clearly the protection of children must take precedence, but if individuals could have been stopped or deterred, we as a family may not have found ourselves in this situation."

I think this might be the bravest thing that anyone in the public eye has said for quite some time. Prevention is always better than cure, and prevention need not mean the extermination of all paedophiles or bricks through windows. Unfortunately, we won't know what it does mean until we have the openness that this mother requests, and are able to find out exactly what compels paedophiles. Only then can the problem be managed effectively. If this were being said by a social worker or someone else with a need to maintain professional detachment, it would be easy for the 'condemn first, don't bother to ask questions later' lobby to dismiss. However, it's coming from a woman whose child was subjected to vile, awful acts of abuse by men she trusted to care for her child. Everybody should be listening to her right now.


Robin Carmody said...

Indeed. It is so horrific that you can barely find the words, but you will not end such activities by crude revenge tactics and run-them-out-of-town tabloid campaigns. I remain convinced, even in these circumstances, that rational response is the only way.

One thing I would fear would be homophobes trying to make political capital out of it, specifically in the case of Rennie.

LF Barfe said...

Your point about homophobia is well made, Robin. It's why I didn't dwell on the particularly horrifying detail that an HIV-positive man should put children at risk of infection apart from all of the psychological damage.

As for rational responses, the interview tapes from the Plymouth business show that listening and attempting to understand do not equal condoning, something that a lot of people might claim.