Children Being 'Failed' Over Gang Sex Abuse

Children are suffering "sadistic levels" of sexual abuse by gangs, but services designed to protect them are still woefully inadequate, a new study has found.
The research for the Children's Commissioner said victims of gang sexual abuse could be as young as 11 years old and the offenders as young as 12 years old.
The children also have younger siblings who are on the fringes of being at risk.
Deputy Children's Commissioner, Sue Berelowitz, told Sky News: "I have worked with many children who have been victims of sexual violence, but I have never before encountered the levels of sadism and cruelty that I have during this inquiry.
"The sheer degree of depravity that has been enacted on children, sometimes by other children, has been truly shocking."
The report also found that only 6% of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) are fully complying with key parts of Government guidance on tackling sexual exploitation.
"Whilst 98% of LSCBs told the inquiry that Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a strategic priority, almost half were unable to tell us how many victims had been identified during 2012 in their local area," it said.
"During site visits we also continued to hear references to children 'putting themselves at risk', rather than the perpetrators being the risk to children."
The report went on: "Too many people who should be protecting children are in denial about the realities of CSE and therefore do not believe what children may tell them. One young person told us 'They made me feel like it was my fault'."
Deputy Children's Commissioner Sue Berelowitz
Deputy Children's Commissioner Sue Berelowitz
In a long list of failings, the report says agencies are "failing to engage" with children, that there is a "lack of leadership" and "limited or no strategic planning".
It also emerged that one chair of a Children's Safeguarding Board did not even know there was a set of Government guidelines on the issue.
Ms Berelowitz, told Sky News the panel had been shocked by the lack of action being taken.
"There is no doubt that children are still falling through the net because of some serious failings," she said.
"It was of great concern to us to identify that of the top 15 requirements that Local Safeguarding Board must comply with to protect children, only 6% are doing what they should be doing.
"So the vast majority of them have a long way to go before they are doing what they should be doing in law to protect children."
A two-year study by the University of Bedfordshire, which was released alongside the report, said that rape was used by gang members as "a form of weaponry".
Report author Jenny Pearce told Sky News: "Thirty four per cent said multiple rape was commonplace among gangs.
"Initiation to a gang might be through raping a girl. A young man might have his girlfriend raped as a form of punishment. Someone might be raped for failing to perform a task."
She added: "Only one in 12 said they would report a rape, and of those most would only tell peers.
"They won't go to the police. That's something we need to address."
The report authors spoke to 188 young people living in gang-affected areas and found that gang sexual violence was not confined to inner cities, or even deprived areas, but was a countrywide problem.
To coincide with these two reports, London Metropolitan University has studied young people's attitudes to rape and sexual consent.
Young people were given rape scenarios and asked whether they felt consent had been given.
Dr Maddy Coy, who conducted the study, said: "There is a sense that young women's actions are always under scrutiny.
"If they have accepted a drink, or worn a top that flatters their breasts, that is seen as an invitation to have sex and they are blamed for what happens next.
"The focus is always on those giving consent, but not enough focus on getting consent. Young people are not aware of what getting consent looks like."
Dr Coy added that only a "minority of young people we spoke to felt that consent should be negotiated".
The Children's Commission is now calling for the Department of Education to review the guidance on child sexual exploitation and to ensure that local services are complying with what has already been set out.
It suggests problem-profiling of potential victims, offenders and gangs needs to take place - along with a greater emphasis on relationship and sex education by trained professionals for children and young people.

Source: Sky News


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