11th February 2016

Anne Longfield’s comment on article by Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, has commented on an article by Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, in which he calls for anonymity for suspected child abusers:

“Child sexual abuse has an immeasurable human cost. It leaves many of its victims and survivors traumatised for many years, if not throughout their lives and it is critical that, as a society, we do more to tackle it. I have been encouraged in recent years by increased public awareness of child sexual abuse and it is important not to let a small number of high profile cases which have resulted in alleged perpetrators being found to be innocent detract from the fact that tackling child abuse must remain a national priority for the police. Our own research found that there are likely to be hundreds of thousands of child victims going unnoticed by authorities.

“We also know from our research with child victims and adult survivors that for many reasons, only a tiny minority of children tell someone about their abuse whilst it is taking place – sometimes because of the fear of doing so and sometimes because they do not understand that they are being abused, or simply do not have the words to describe it. My concern is that changes in the way the police handle allegations made by child victims of abuse could result in fewer coming forward for fear that they will not be believed and they may also foster a culture of denial and disbelief among authorities.”

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