Bridget Phillipson Labour Member of Parliament for Houghton and Sunderland South
In recent weeks, important questions have been asked of key British institutions over child sexual abuse.
There are at least thirteen different inquiries underway into allegations concerning Jimmy Savile, the abuse of young women in Rochdale and what took place at care homes in North Wales.
Child sexual abuse can devastate the lives of survivors. There are too many tragic cases where those affected are unable to go on and take their own lives.
Given the institutional failures and widespread nature of this abuse, I believe that one over-arching inquiry is needed to bring together common areas of concern.
While some of these dreadful events took place in the past, we still haven’t seen the shift that’s needed in how we approach sexual abuse and rape, both for children and adults.
Too often victims aren’t believed when they come forward or don’t feel able to report incidents to the police. We know that with children warning signs can be ignored or missed altogether.
As a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, we’ve heard troubling evidence that this is still happening and examples where those in positions of responsibility haven’t acted. We must keep our focus on the people that matter most – the victims of abuse.
Let us never forget that abuse can occur in any town or city. It is frequently carried out by family members or people we trust and it cuts across all social backgrounds.
We all have a responsibility to change the culture so that victims are listened to and believed.
This article was originally published in the Sunderland Echo on 21st November 2012.