MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Fri 12-Aug-16 12:31:44

Guest post: "The child sexual abuse inquiry isn't optional - it's a necessity"

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which has just appointed its fourth chair, has been criticised for being slow and unwieldy. But Lucy Duckworth, a member of the Victims and Survivors Consultative panel, says it’s critical that the Inquiry gets it right

Lucy Duckworth

Victims and Survivors Consultative panel

Posted on: Fri 12-Aug-16 12:31:44

(15 comments )

Lead photo

"In a recent ONS survey, 3% of men and 11% of women said they had experienced sexual abuse during childhood."

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has been the subject of much media scrutiny since its announcement in July 2014. It is the largest inquiry of its kind, charged with investigating whether public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales. This includes schools, churches, extracurricular clubs, care homes, hospitals, council care; the enquiry will also look into allegations against MPs and people in the entertainment industry.

With the recent resignation of the third chair, Dame Lowell Goddard, many have voiced doubts about whether the inquiry will ever be able to achieve what it set out to do. I understand this view, but I do not share it. The inquiry has spent over a year putting in place robust infrastructures to enable it to begin its task, and I have every confidence it can and will achieve its aims.

Its remit is huge but necessary. The question, of course, should not be why is IICSA so big- but how we came to a point where child abuse is such a problem in the very institutions designed to protect and develop children’s welfare.

What this criticism does reveal is that we need to be clearer with the public about the reason that the IICSA exists at all - namely, the extent and effects of child abuse in the UK today. In a recent survey of adults by the Office for National Statistics 3% of men and 11% of women said they had experienced sexual abuse during childhood. It is vital that there is an investigation into the widespread human rights abuses committed against children, and a change of personnel will not hamper this.

We need to fully investigate the institutional failures that have led to such a high rate of child sexual abuse, and understand how we can help survivors and prevent it happening in future. A statutory independent inquiry should be given whatever resources it needs to do its work.


It is also important that we as a society acknowledge that the effects of child sexual abuse continue into adulthood. The Adverse Childhood Experiences study found that those who suffer abuse are four and a half times more likely to get depression, three times more likely to get cancer or heart disease and 12 times more likely to adopt high risk behaviours, such as substance misuse, than their non-abused peers. In 2015, in recognition of such facts, our government named child sexual abuse as the third biggest threat to public health. We need to fully investigate the institutional failures that have led to such a high rate of child sexual abuse, and understand how we can help survivors and prevent it happening in future. A statutory independent inquiry into child abuse should not be debated as an option - it should be acknowledged as a necessity, and given whatever resources it needs to do its work.

IICSA understands that it takes courage for survivors to give evidence. It understands the enormity of the task ahead and that all recommendations it makes must be based on evidence gained through a secure and ethical methodology. It knows that some institutions may not provide all the evidence needed - not necessarily deliberately, but because recognising damage is not ingrained in their working culture. As such it is a statutory inquiry with legal powers to compel evidence, if it believes it is being held back. Setting this up takes time and costs money. And it is right that it does.

For those who have waited decades for results, patience is understandably wearing thin - but we must find more and let the inquiry do its work. This inquiry is bigger than any one chair, or famous alleged perpetrator; it is bigger than any single instance of abuse. It will have a positive impact on all of us – and it has the opportunity to help people now and in future generations lead happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. There is surely no greater priority than that, and I am proud to be part of a society that is finally facing such a painful subject head on.

Lucy Duckworth is a consultant for improving services for child and adult survivors of abuse. She is a member of the Victims and Survivors Consultative panel, an independent consultation body to IICSA.

By Lucy Duckworth

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DioneTheDiabolist Fri 12-Aug-16 17:54:53

OP, I agree with you that an IICSA is a necessity. However I think that this one is so large as to be unworkable, sometimes I wonder if that has been the plan all along.sad I believe that the public would be better served by a number of smaller, separate enquiries the findings of which would be collated at the end.

yeOldeTrout Fri 12-Aug-16 18:09:12

"why child abuse is such a problem in the very institutions"

what do you mean "is"? It's a historical enquiry. Many of the events are 50 yrs past. This enquiry is a waste of time & money.

Platforms for people to share their pain: good.
Ongoing Collaboration to see how children can be protected better in future: good.

Spending a vast amount of money to rake over values & expectations & shortcomings of past, and pretend nothing has changed in institutions or cultural expectations since then; why will this make anything better?

Mjingaxx Fri 12-Aug-16 22:29:43

Be a use some of the people who have been accused are still in government trout

Mjingaxx Fri 12-Aug-16 22:31:26

I think there will be too much pressure on anyone involved to conclude in the cover up. How are those people going to be protected so that they can do their jobs?

Oblomov16 Sat 13-Aug-16 06:07:37

The enquiry is a waste of time and money. Haven't 3 Chairs quit already? The OP is deluded is she thinks anything significant is going to come of this.
I so wish it was different, the child abuse and the actual mess of an enguiry are both an embarrassment to the Uk. I wish it could be different, but I don't think it is.

christinarossetti Sat 13-Aug-16 08:05:37

I agree that there is/ will be too much pressure on this committee to cover up abuse by the wealthy and well connected for it even to get out of the starting blocks.

But something has to be done to give public voice and justice to all the people who gave already come forward with evidence.

Can we really assert that things are very different now? Stats from organisations like the NSPCC don't indicate that sexual abuse is solely an historic issue.

Sexual abuse is a criminal offence - surely ibcreasibg opportunity of bringing perpetrators to justice goes hand in hand with supporting victims?

KimmySchmidtsSmile Sat 13-Aug-16 16:42:48

It's absolutely a necessity because the victims bloody well deserve to see justice and receive compensation and above all, to have their voices heard. The fact that it went so high up, covered up by successive governments and that there are people who should have been brought to trial by now is a bloody disgrace.

Butteredparsn1ps Sat 13-Aug-16 17:45:34

I don't think it would be possible to not have an enquiring. There would be too many allegations of a cover up.

On the other hand, many of the conclusions that will be reached in the decade or so it will take to complete the enquiring could probably be identified already at very little cost.

I hope we don't have to wait for the enquiry, and then no doubt the enquiry into the enquiry to change. I write that as someone who had some low level dealings with JS.

IMHO the cultures of the organisations he was connected to allowed him to flourish. I would like to see Organisations, and their leaders held to account for corporate abuse in the same way they are for corporate manslaughter.

Butteredparsn1ps Sat 13-Aug-16 17:46:28

Enquiry. My apologies. Spell check has an enquiring mind.

christinarossetti Sat 13-Aug-16 18:19:36

Unfortunately, it's unlikely that they will be though isn't?

The organisations and individuals within them are too powerful and influential to ever really be accountable to the cjs.

I expect some criticism of local authorities and the like and a bit of scapegoating, but I think central government and church involvement, for example, will be very minimised.

Really sickening.

yeOldeTrout Sun 14-Aug-16 14:05:01

some of the people who have been accused are still in government

Only if they are found guilty. So, is that statement presupposing the outcome? Plus, can only be prosecuted if they don't die in the decade or so that this Inquiry will need to complete.

The fact that it went so high up, covered up by successive governments and that there are people who should have been brought to trial by now is a bloody disgrace.

"cover up" = presupposes outcome of the Inquiry.

People who are convinced that there WAS and IS a coverup at 'highest levels', will consider any other conclusion a whitewash. They will not be satisfied by the outcomes of this Inquiry.

Something has to be done to give public voice and justice to all the people who gave already come forward with evidence

At the glacial pace this enquiry is going, with its huge remit, that will never happen.

Can we really assert that things are very different now? Stats from organisations like the NSPCC don't indicate that sexual abuse is solely an historic issue.

The Inquiry isn't about modern practices, so it won't be able to comment about what's happening now. Even if it was about modern practices, it could end up waiting until 2025 to comment on the child protection practices that were current in 2017.

KimmySchmidtsSmile Sun 14-Aug-16 16:27:04

In the same way the chilcot report basically condemned Blair, I was hoping this inquiry would condemn Thatcher et al, yes.

KimmySchmidtsSmile Sun 14-Aug-16 17:12:26

vipcsa.wikidot.com/cover-ups

It cannot all be Tinfoil Central™ surely?

KimmySchmidtsSmile Sun 14-Aug-16 17:42:35

greenerblog.blogspot.de/2016/04/submission-of-dr-richard-lawson-to.html

christinarossetti Mon 15-Aug-16 17:40:07

But you predicted the outcome of the enquiry when you said about 'pretending that nothing has changed' oldetrout.

Which is why I asked how we can be sure that things have changed.

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