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to think that if you protect a child abuser you are also guilty of child abuse ?

(35 Posts)
brighterfuture Sun 21-Oct-12 07:50:51

I just read an article about how someone who chose not to act on their suspicions that a friend was behaving innapropriately with children.
They were worried because it would cause problems for their friend who was well respected and problems for her in her circle of friends if she started accusations. The events had happened a long time ago.
AIBU to believe that any suspicions of child abuse should be investigated, whatever the consequences for the one who blows the whistle ?

VolumeOfACone Sun 21-Oct-12 08:10:59

Only the abuser is guilty of child abuse. Of course.

CailinDana Sun 21-Oct-12 08:11:10

In principle I agree totally. I definitely think someone who is 100% certain of abuse and does nothing, thus allowing the abuse to continue, is just as culpable as the abuser. Suspicions are a different thing though and I do understand how difficult it can be to rock the boat and bring up such suspicions especially in a society where the default mode seems to be to believe the abuser and doubt the victim. In years gone by especially the repercussions for someone bringing up such accusations would be great, particularly if they didn't have any solid proof.

Hopefully things are changing and there is more done to ensure people are encouraged to act on their suspicions.

InWithTheITCrowd Sun 21-Oct-12 08:43:46

If you are protecting a child abuser then you are guilty of protecting a child abuser. It is not the same thing, but it is incredibly damaging and the protector is in a position to change things. And should.

brighterfuture Sun 21-Oct-12 08:48:54

Given than most child abuse happens within families there must be so many people with hunches and suspicions not following up their instincts because they haven't got definitive proof. Not wanting to rock the boat and meanwhile the child remains a victim.

Children need to be educated about what is and isn't appropriate adult behaviour and know when and who they should talk to if someones actions are making them uncomfortable

PeggyCarter Sun 21-Oct-12 08:48:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PeggyCarter Sun 21-Oct-12 08:49:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pagwatch Sun 21-Oct-12 08:55:17

It is way more complicated than that!

Sometimes an abused child will assist in helping conceal the abuse, siblings will protect the abuser because they don't want their family torn apart.

It is incredibly complicated. Lining up more people to be judgemental about without paying any attention to the emotional burden placed upon everyone living in a household with abuse at its heart isn't helpful.

seeker Sun 21-Oct-12 09:06:42

And it does depend on who you mean. And what you mean by suspicions.

tethersend Sun 21-Oct-12 09:07:07

Is this about anyone in particular? Esther Rantzen perhaps? Or just a theoretical question?

brighterfuture Sun 21-Oct-12 09:40:58

It could be ... but then it could be about anyone who has harboured suspicions but never acted on them.

I am just glad that recent news events have highlighted how much protection there is out there for child sex abusers compared to their scared lonely victims.
When no one takes on the responsibilty to speak out the children are the ones left feeling guilty and responsible.

Dahlen Sun 21-Oct-12 09:56:50

Sometimes it is a form of denial rather than selfishness. Admitting the truth is too awful to contemplate so suspicions are rationalised away.

AuntieStella Sun 21-Oct-12 10:02:21

It's covered by the existing concept of being an accessory to a crime, something for which the penalty can be as high as committing the offence itself. And it's not restricted to offences against children.

parsnipcake Sun 21-Oct-12 10:10:15

Failure to protect a child is treated very seriously and in my experience of fostering would warrant removal Of a child, even when the abuser is out of the picture, with the reasoning g that the adult could continue to fail to protect the child. Many adults who don't stop abuse have complicated issues themselves, they may be being abused, being blackmailed, and ultimately disclosing abuse usually destroys a family. There are so many reasons why mothers and others let it continue. But while lots of non discloses aren't upto taking full time care of children, it doesn't make them criminals, usually. Most of the families I know in this situation are simply vulnerable and complex.

seeker Sun 21-Oct-12 10:34:22

"Failure to protect a child is treated very seriously"

Unless it's a respected institution that's failing to protect the child obviously......

ACaseOfMistakenIdentity Sun 21-Oct-12 13:03:19

Have temporarily namchanged for this post.

This... And it does depend on who you mean. And what you mean by suspicions.

I (and 3 other people close to me) have suspicions about my mum's partner (of 15 years) and his grown up son. The son lives with my mum and his partner. They both make me (and DH and DSD) uneasy when they're around my dds. Nothing has actually happened but we all get a "feeling" about the way the way they are with the kids. Of course I can't just come out to my mum and say "Oh btw I think your partner and his son are paedos" . Because they haven't actually done anything. I can't exactly go to the police saying I've got a feeling about them either, they'd laugh me out of the station.

So what can I do? We make sure they're NEVER alone with my kids, we try to limit contact as much as possible. We can't avoid contact all together because the kids would never see their grandmother (whose a great grandmother btw). My mum is also our default babysitter, so we make sure all babysitting is done at our house. My kids have never slept over at granny's house which is actually a bone of contention with my mum, but I just pretend it's because I can't bear to be apart from them (even though their both school aged hmm).

Then there is my dad who is a fantastic grandad and a great dad, who would also like to have them sleep over, but they never have. The problem is his brother (my uncle) who both my sister and I are pretty certain abused us both when we were little (along with my gran - dad's mum). We both have memories but honestly can't quite be sure. I can't just turn around to my dad and say "Oh dad, your brother he's a paedo, well we can't be certain but we think he may have abused sister and me". It would kill my dad, his brother is his only living relative apart from me and my sister obviously. His brother sleeps over frequently so I couldn't be sure whether he would be there if my kids were. So again we try to avoid contact with my uncle as much as possible.

I don't know if what we're doing is wrong. Maybe we should report my uncle but honestly most the memories must be repressed, I can only remember snippets and I really don't want to drag up all those bloody memories and open a can of worms. And as for my mum's partner and his son they haven't actually done anything yet, so all I can do is protect my kids from them as much as possible.

CailinDana Sun 21-Oct-12 13:10:07

Your situation is exactly what I was talking about ACase. Having a suspicion is one thing, reporting someone for a crime is another. You are in a very tough position but in the end, as you know, your children are the most important thing so if push came to shove it would mean upsetting your parents in order to protect them.

Does your mother know about you and your sister's suspicions about your uncle? TBH if you both have memories then I would be very surprised if they weren't founded.

glastocat Sun 21-Oct-12 13:11:34

My uncle abused my cousin. My cousin did not report it as she is too embarrassed to be known as that girl who was abused ( she lives in a small gossipy village). So everyone in the family knows, and he is never allowed near any children. But we have to respect her wishes not to report it, to ignore her wishes would be like abusing her again ( her words). So what can you do?

MrsToddsShortcut Sun 21-Oct-12 14:07:11

Was this the article? Today's Daily Fail, so apologies...

Complicated because her friend confessed to her about the abuse he experienced so I guess she did know. But it sounds as though she is trying to do the right thing now, by asking him if he wants to report it now. Unless i have misread the end of the article?

CailinDana Sun 21-Oct-12 14:19:01

Glasto makes a good point - if a victim confides in you, do you have the right to go against that person's wishes and tell the police? I would feel utterly betrayed by someone who did that to me. Equally I would be very slow to put pressure on anyone who confided in me to go to the police because that is a massive step that I would never encourage anyone to undertake lightly.

Birdsgottafly Sun 21-Oct-12 14:41:03

if a victim confides in you, do you have the right to go against that person's wishes and tell the police

From a professional POV (and what has to be my personal because i am a member of a regulating body), you break confidence if;

You have reason to suspect that a further crime will take place.

The person who is telling you what has happened is vulnerable and you may need to take the decision for them to contact the police.

So if a child comes to you, you tell someone, if an adult does and the crime was committed when that person was a child, then you break confidentiality.

This is to protect those that need it most and allow autonomy in adults, unless it puts another vulnerable (child) person at risk.

In law, if you witness a crime and do not report, you can be charged as an accessory.

Ethically, you are wrong and cannot justify doing nothing, even if you just have suspisions.

It is a tough one, because women who stay with DV perpetrators could be said to be as guilty as the person committing the abuse.

When carrying out assessments, the adults safeguarding ability is looked at.

CailinDana Sun 21-Oct-12 14:51:19

What about if the person confiding in you is a friend? The situation is pretty clear cut if you're in a position of responsibility - you're required to report and are protected from acrimony in a way by your professional status. But if a friend tells you there is a bond of trust that means telling others could easily be seen as a betrayal. It's a tough situation.

nananaps Sun 21-Oct-12 14:57:55

I struggle to get my head around this too.
From experience of some one i know being horrifically abused by her father..told her mother but it never went any further.

I asked her why she had not taken steps to involve the authorities as an adult ESPECIALLY as she now has a daughter herself and still spends time with her parents.
She even goes on holidays with them but claims to never leave her daughter alone with them.

I just dont get it. How she can be in the same room as this thing, let alone have her child breath the same air.

BackOnceAgainWithLoopyLoops Sun 21-Oct-12 15:08:54

Yes, sorry, even slight suspicions are worth reporting. No matter who you are, who they are and when it happened. If a victim possibly can themselves, they should be encouraged to.
Think about the reaction to the Jimmy Savile thing.

Your responsibility to prevent further abuse outweighs your duty to protect yourself or others.

BackOnceAgainWithLoopyLoops Sun 21-Oct-12 15:10:58

but nananaps, you are doing the same but not reporting too, surely?

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