Telford child sex abuse victims abandoned by society, Bishops say
THE publication on Tuesday of the report of the public inquiry into child sexual abuse in Telford, which concluded that clear evidence of abuse had been ignored for decades, demands a response from all organizations working with children and young people, including the Church of England, said two bishops.
The investigation found that more than 1,000 children had been sexually exploited in the region since the 1980s, prostituted, trafficked, “deliberately humiliated and degraded”, and forced to live in fear, because agencies failed repeatedly to report or take action against the abusers. .
West Mercia police were heavily criticized and apologized. But the continued failures meant the crimes continued, according to the report: “Appalling, life-altering crimes have not gone away – in Telford or elsewhere.”
In 2018, a Baptist minister, the Reverend Keith Osmund-Smith, who works with street pastors in Telford to keep vulnerable people safe at night, told a national newspaper that police failed to report, which eventually led to a national inquiry.
On Wednesday, the Bishop of Birkenhead, the Right Reverend Julie Conalty, who is Deputy Senior Bishop for Survivor Engagement, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Right Reverend Sarah Bullock and Acting National Director of Safeguarding, Zena Marshall, released a statement. He said: “Church leaders and representatives may be reluctant to comment publicly on the safeguarding shortcomings of other institutions, simply because of the Church’s failures to protect those who are vulnerable or to respond well to survivors and victims. But we have to talk.
“There is no doubt that victims and survivors have been gravely disappointed and we should all ask ourselves what we can learn from this important investigation and how we can better protect children and young people in our communities.
“We all need to listen to the voices of victims and survivors and take them seriously. We all need to learn to recognize the signs of abuse and how best to respond.
“We mourn the failure of our society, of which the Church is a part, to protect these children and we yearn for justice and safer communities.
“We hope that the recommendations and lessons learned from them will ensure greater awareness in all our communities and institutions so that we can end the sexual exploitation of children.”