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Professionals should not be Scapegoats

Let us be clear about this right from the start.
Our intention is not to criticise, to denigrate or to find fault.
There has been much finger pointing – in the main at police forces in England and Wales – in response to the Inspectorate of Constabulary’s report on how child abuse investigations are conducted.
The censure has been strong – the NSPCC have described the report’s findings as a ‘damning indictment’ – and even police officials (this from the National Police Chiefs Council) acknowledge that forces need to ‘fundamentally change’ their approach.
It isn’t just the police in the firing line, the report highlighting ‘weaknesses and inconsistencies’ at all stages of the child protection system.
Let us reiterate that our intention is not to criticise, to denigrate or to find fault . . .
Much has been said already, and it is right that failings have been identified and that condemnation, where appropriate, has been forthcoming.
But the time has come to move to on. To learn. To improve.
To underline the fact that everyone involved in the child protection system is on the same side. To highlight the fact that child protection is a highly complex social problem and that those professionals in the firing line are not the bad guys.
This is an issue (and make no mistake about it, this is an issue) because child abuse and exploitation has reached an unprecedented level in the UK in recent times.
Police predict that the number of child sexual abuse cases will exceed 70,000 this year . . .
This is an increase of 88 per cent from 2012.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the police’s national spokesman on child protection, has described the scale of child sexual abuse as ‘staggering’. On this, no-one could disagree.
The predators targeting children, be it online or in person, are the bad guys here. The paedophiles. The abusers. The exploiters. The neglectful.
Sure, our response can (and must) improve. But don’t forget that there’s a bigger picture.
The failings found in the police’s approach, incidentally, are ones that EVERYBODY invested in child protection (including all agencies, including parents, including ourselves and society on a wider level) can learn from.
Being proactive rather than reactive.
Recognising that for all the bureaucracy, this isn’t about filling in forms and ticking boxes.
Remembering to take the time to stop and listen to children PROPERLY.
Society needs to take a much deeper look at how it functions. How it views children and childhood. What its priorities are.
These are the things that matter now, the time for recriminations has passed.
In order to tackle this, in order to make a difference, we all need to stick together.
Never forget that, when it comes to child abuse and exploitation, the professionals in the firing line are not the bad guys.

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