14 July 2014
Christians support robust measures against child abuse
Recent media coverage of child abuse and high profile court cases have highlighted the need for more robust measures in tackling it. The proposed measures include making it a criminal offence not to report sexual or physical abuse.
Christians have previously expressed their support for the mandatory reporting of abuse against children for all institutions. This measure has now been recommended by the chief executive of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Peter Wanless, who has said there should be a duty on all institutions like hospitals, children's homes and boarding schools to report abuse against children.
In November 2013 the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) said: "The mandatory reporting of child sex abuse is an excellent idea and should be embraced immediately. This warning came as it commented on a call from former director of public prosecutions, Sir Keir Starmer, for doctors, social workers and ministers of religion to be legally-obliged to report all allegations of sexual abuse to the statutory agencies.
Keir Starmer's call was also backed by both the Anglican and Catholic Church.
The independent review, to be conducted by NSPCC, has been welcomed by the Bishop of Durham and Church of England's head of child safeguarding, Rt Rev Paul Butler, said: "We have to think of the child first, not ourselves, not the institution but what's best for the child," he said.
Danny Sullivan, chairman of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission, said: "The Catholic Church in England and Wales has been following the principle of mandatory reporting for some time and that it is why we would have no problem with such a provision being enshrined in law".
Reacting to the recent government announcement that there will an overarching independent inquiry into child abuse, The Children's Society chief executive Matthew Reed said: "The government announcement that there will be an overarching independent inquiry is a vital step forward in tackling systematic failures to protect children against this abhorrent crime.
"There is mounting evidence that the very authorities in place to protect children from child abuse have oftenfailed to do so, time and time again. As a society we need to look at why this is happening –and what has to change to protect innocent children "It is crucial that no stone is left unturned when it comes to stamping out child abuse now, as well as dealing with life-destroying failures of the past."
The review has been prompted by questions surrounding how the Home Office handled historical allegations of child abuse which were contained in a dossier handed over by former Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens to the home secretary Leon Brittan in the 1980s.
CCPAS, an independent Christian charity providing professional child protection advice and support across church denominations and organisations throughout the UK, will be holding a major international safeguarding conference on 16 November in London.