It has been a bad few weeks in the UK for news relating to child abuse, and while still appearing to be rare, it does seem that there is a growing realisation that some of the advances made in reporting, investigating and prosecuting are finding more areas of concern as well as catching those involved.
With grooming cases involving dozens of people, teachers running away with students, the (thankfully still very rare) abduction of a child and the one that has filled nore column inches than the others, Jimmy Saville, the late DJ and celebrity. He is far from the first celebrity to be linked to child abuse, the list is almost endless over the decades, but there are discrepancies over how the media and law deal with the individuals concerned. Bill Wyman and Roman Polanski seem to have been forgiven by many and continued with their careers despite clear admittance of sex with underage girls (I am aware Polanski avoids the US).
What made them different to the teacher who absconded with a student recently where the media branded him a danger and criminal (which he is, clearly) but he did nothing that Wyman hadn't done? While on the subject of the media, let's not forget the Sun had a countdown to Charlotte Church turning 16, and they are far from alone with a fascination for young females in news stories.
Pete Townshend was convicted of signing up to a child porn site, (has never produced the book he was "researching") but is still in the public eye and his biography is out now after receiving only a caution. Chris Langham the actor was convicted of downloading images and sent to prison and his career all but ended. Slight differences in the crimes, but basically the same with opposite sentencing.
But on to Saville and the avalanche of people now coming out and saying that they knew about this, and to the extent of reports of Gary Glitter having sex with an underage girl in his dressing room, and the growing guessing as to who else was involved. This is the area that concerns me the most, streams of celebrities, journalists and people involved in "the business" adding comments that they always knew / had suspicions of his activity, and hinting that he was not alone. A radio DJ saying she was sexually assaulted on air by another DJ, but not naming Saville being one terrible example of this. If it was Saville - name him, he is dead and his reputation seems to be crumbling, if it wasn't Saville, no need to name in the papers but there is a need to report to the police. You were sexually assaulted, unlikely the one and only time the perpetrator did it and who knows what he is still up to.
It is the culture of secrecy and fear that allows crimes like this to continue, no-one wants to ruin someones life over some gossip, but when there is clear and factual evidence surely there is an obligation to report it to save others? Linked to this is the need for the police and associated services to take reports seriously and for all of us to face up to the fact that this happens, and however painful it is to admit, I am sure that is nothing compared to the pain and anguish caused to the children.
As for Saville, I used to work as a cleaner in Stoke Mandeville Hospital when at school, and we were told in no uncertain terms that everyone had to stay in pairs when he was on the site. Never heard or saw anything to verify the rumours, but he was not as adulated as he liked to make out he was.