Many of us here in the UK watch as the horror of the Jimmy Savile sex scandal continues to unfold…and unfold. More and more allegations of the sexual abuse he carried out against children as young as ten are continuing to come out of the woodwork. And then there’s the arrests of high-profile men such as Freddie Star and Jim Davidson in the investigation surrounding Savile known as Operation Yewtree.
These are men whose faces we grew up with in the 80’s- TV’s personalities that entertained us every weekend- back when there were only four TV channels and families across the country sat down to watch the same programmes; someone like Jimmy Savile’s was a household name. So yes, its shocking and saddening to think that all along they might have been sexual predators committing crimes against children who were the same age as I was at the time.
Are we shocked because its them, or because this kind of activity was going on in the first place? Both I expect.
The sad fact is, that children from a primary school age (I’d hate to say younger) are, and have always, been vulnerable to sexual predators, and these are not just men but women too. This kind of vile behaviour just defies belief. Growing up we’d hear of high profile cases like the Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley and feel relieved that it was only ‘their sort’- the really sick- in- the- head types, that did this. We’d somehow feel reassured that because we weren’t hearing about it on the news it wasn’t really going on in our towns or neighbourhoods. But just because there has been a sudden proliferation of reporting in the news media of paedophiles it doesn’t mean this a new thing specific to the late 90’s and onwards.
Perhaps its the culture of silence that is changing. (The courage of the Savile victims to come out, after all this time and talk about their abuse is so admirable. Hopefully this will enable other abuse victims to finally speak up and see some kind of justice or at least personal healing. If nothing else, this could be a good thing to come out of the Savile affair.)
As a society, and as parents we do need to accept the fact that sexual predators are rife and even present in our own community. Sadly last year, a dad in our community was jailed for sexual activity against a minor. He systematically abused a young girl for two years. Yes we were all shocked, horrified and frankly in utter disbelief. But it brought home to me the truth of how real sexual abuse against children is, how vulnerable they are, and our need to protect them. Sex crimes against children have always been going in, it seems that finally it’s being recognised for what it is- not just a pat or a grope from a famous person or an over-friendly uncle. Its a violation of a child’s right to personal safety and dignity, a violation of their own sexuality.
Some of the victims that have spoken out against Savile have claimed that he would just grope them in a room with other people- like this was a socially acceptable thing to do, just because he was famous. And we’ve all heard the rumours that the BBC allegedly covered up this behaviour, as if they are able to do that because he was a TV personality, as if its ok to let a child or young person suffer that kind of humiliation and awful violation. It’s not ok! Once a child’s innocence is taken away it will never be restored and they have to live with the shameful memory of what was done to them, for the rest of their lives.
The Delhi rape last month has finally got us talking about violence against women and specifically rape. Can we please now starting talking about the threat that exists towards our children- often from within the family and community?