Almost everyone in the UK is by now aware of the recent sexual abuse allegations concerning deceased DJ and celebrity Jimmy Savile. The allegations cover many children in a variety of settings, including at the BBC. They also include children living in two children’s homes, one in England and one in Jersey.
Those of us who were in care in children’s homes in the 1970s will not have been surprised at the nature of the allegations concerning the two children’s homes. The ease of access to children in care that Savile was given reminded me of how easy it was for managers and other social services workers, as well as outsiders, to be granted permission to take children away overnight or for longer, as a ‘treat’. Although many of these trips away will have been well-meaning and positive experiences, the opportunity for paedophiles to exploit such access is obvious. Jimmy Savile was by no means the only person to do so. We know, even from recent cases such as those in Rochdale, that children in care – often without a family to look out for their interests – are particularly vulnerable to such exploitation. It remains the case that too little account is taken of that vulnerability.
We at the CLA are aware that abuse – sexual, physical and emotional – has long-term consequences. Many adult care leavers continue to live with the consequences of abuse experienced in childhood, whether in the care system or outside it. We lack the professional expertise to offer counselling or similar forms of support. However, other organisations have the professional skills necessary to either offer some support or provide pointers to people who do. The Samaritans is one such organisation. Another is The National Association of People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), an organisation that we have a good relationship with. NAPAC has a statement about the Jimmy Savile allegations on the front page of its website and a contact telephone number for those who need it.