I read an article in the Financial Times last week entitled ‘Child abuse is not a national plague’. They have strict copyright conditions, so I can’t copy and paste any of it here. I will summarise. In essence, the writer suggests that all the paedophilia accusations emerging in the past couple of months are either from hysterical, mentally weak people, or money-seeking manipulators. In sharp contrast to what charities such as the NSPCC have been saying in recent years, based on actual evidence, this writer, Max Hastings, implied that abuse simultaneously doesn’t occur much and that those who report it have other reasons than justice for a serious crime. He even tried to say investigating such crimes costs too much.
Costs too much?
While there have been shades of Salem in parts of the media, the actual article had zero evidence for its assertions. The Financial Times, home of cool facts and level-headed stats, achieved a big round 0%. Having researched who the author is, however, and the fact that he was knighted in recent years, I suspect this is what allows him to get away with such assertions, in such an esteemed newspaper as the Financial Times. Isn’t it ironic that Sir Jim also managed to get away with things because of his perceived position?
Here’s an interesting statistic: one in six children in the UK aged 11-17 (16.5%) have experienced sexual abuse. I wouldn’t say that was a plague, I’d say it was an epidemic. Also of note: sexual abuse occurs throughout all social classes. I have been glad (if glad is the right word) that in recent weeks victims have finally overcome the strong taboos and sense of shame associated with childhood sexual abuse, and spoken out.
Sir Max had clearly not even attempted to contact such organizations as the NSPCC, Stop it Now!, NAPAC, MOSAC, Social Services, or any criminal investigation professionals, e.g. CEOP. Nor had he accessed the BBC, which published statistics not long ago on reported sexual crimes and conviction rates.
I was so appalled by this article that I composed an email for their ‘errors in accuracy’ department, outlining my concerns, and quoting a few easily-available facts. They haven’t got back to me.
In order to comment, I had to subscribe to the FT. The questions you have to answer to sign up were also less than pleasing. One is assumed to be a business person and in paid employment. Unable to find ‘housewife’ or ‘carer of disabled child’ in any of the boxes, I decided on CEO. In the ‘area of business’ I chose ‘household’.
Chief Executive Officer of the King Household? Yes, I’d say that’s quite a suitable title, actually. Why is discrimination against stay-at-home parents (kudos to stay-at-home dads) so rife in the UK? I wonder if the lack of stay-at-home parents is linked to the fact that our children are statistically the most miserable in the developed world**? I don’t suppose it matters. Facts and statistics don’t seem to matter to the Financial Times any more. Posh boy prejudice suits them nicely. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Someone said that once…
** Not an implication that working mothers are bad, just that with the pressure and emphasis on consumerism over child welfare, it is the vulnerable who pay. The criticism is of the culture, not individuals. I’d like stay-at-home parents to have more respect – a whole lot more than none!