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Socialists against child sexual exploitation

August 11, 2017

Child sexual exploitation is a sickening aspect of our society. Another stone has been unturned in Newcastle this week

Child sexual exploitation is fundamentally an abuse of power. There have been cases across the country in just about every area of society, from every area in the country,

From the Church of England, to posh schools, to celebrities like Saville, from football coaches, to music schools, to the organised abuse in children’s homes by the elite of our society abuse riddles 21st century capitalism

The craziness of the enquiry set up by Teresa May shows how hard it is to break the ranks of protection around these practices. The protection is systemic. The publicity to the working class rapists draws attention away from the abuse at the top of society. Doubtless one day soon, a trial will collapse and there will be calls of how disgraceful it is that these poor men have been found guilty, as we have heard about the elite abusers.

It is hard for survivors to organise but there are many survivors groups who must be listened to.

Girls and boys have been abused. Abuse goes on in families as well as by random people, mainly men, and in organised gangs. It spreads like a virus in society, once a group of people think they can do this with impunity. It is not a form of sexual pleasure. It is abuse.

Sarah Champion MP is wrong to say abuse is mainly  done Pakistani men. Her work on child sexual exploitation has been brave in the past.  Some men from every community are abusers. Organised abuse is an assertion of power and brutality. Whatever race or class the abuser comes from they must be challenged. However, whilst the most powerful escape conviction it is not likely to be tackled thoroughly anywhere. But socialists can make sure we do our best to defend the children, defend women, gay and Tran’s people facing sexual violence

Wherever misogyny rules, neither women nor children, not gays nor Trans are safe. Our media is truly damaging to attempts to keep women and children safe.

What can and should the socialist movement do about it?

Austerity, social stress, poverty and lack of opportunity affect working class children in a truly terrible way in 2017. Affluence, though, has not been a protection against child sexual exploitation. This is not a problem coming from poor ineffective families. Some mums spent months and years following their abused children around trying to rescue them. This is not a Benefit Street problem

We need to oppose austerity, stress, anxiety, neglect and lack of mental health care for all children and demand a life for them, where they can follow their dreams in art, music, sport and education and in their sex lives. The communities in which they live need decent jobs, decent environments, and decent health care including mental health care.

I am writing as an socialist, an activist, a retired teacher and trade unionist.

We need to

  • Make it absolutely clear all children and young people are entitled to manage their own bodies; children are allowed to say “NO”
  • Parents and children are entitled to full sex education including education on what assault and exploitation are. Some brilliant work is done in schools but the pressure on schools makes it harder to allocate money and time to this. Many still see explicit sex education as disgusting and academies and church schools can be amongst the worst. How can you complain if you cannot even name your body parts? Children need to be taught about good relationships and bad ones.
  • Explicit and difficult topics need to be raised from the start with children, in age appropriate ways
  • Sex education needs to be female friendly. Girls need not to think what a boy might want but what the girls themselves want. To teach girls that they are sexual beings too and they always have the right to say NO or Stop, and to enjoy what they do
  • Schools need to be of a size and effectiveness that pupils know their teachers and can trust them. Teachers need to be able to learn about this and have time to talk about it. Rushed after school training is not enough
  • Boys need to be taught that sex is not pornography but a real relationship where they carry responsibilities and where they too can say NO.
  • Everyone needs to understand that children are not available to him or her for sex. Children can play with each other but Adults must keep out.
  • Violence against women and domestic violence need to be tackled. These services must be fully funded. Years ago, we won the case that domestic violence is a trade union issue. Now we need to make child sexual exploitation a trade union issue.
  • Youth work, especially outreach work must be funded; In the Rotherham case report the only people working effectively with the victims were the outreach workers and the schools. These professionals need to need listened to when they speak out. They need very strong unions. Sometimes people working with children are told they need a strong union to defend them against accusations made by the children. The unions should be strong to let the workers defend the children. Austerity though means many such services have closed.
  • Union officers must be trained to support whistle blowers in these cases. Too often members are forced to sign end of employment agreements that silence them Historic agreements must be opened up. The unions must take this issue up.
  • Unions and socialist groups should support groups like White Flowers
  • Prison interventions need to be funded and regularly reviewed.
  • Young people need good social opportunities and facilities. They can have sexual relations if that’s what they choose, if it is consenting
  • Drugs and alcohol can damage our children. Drugs are pushed by networks of criminals whose trading reaches into many parts of society and has powerful support. Alcohol is one of the biggest businesses. Probably the best defence against misuse of such substances is to reduce the levels of anxiety and stress in society.
  • Men who feel entitled to abuse children must know society condemns this. Talk and action should be responded to as we respond to fascism. We have to support people in challenging this.
  • The rights of children must feature in socialist demands, as do the rights of women and other oppressed sections of society. We must fight the pressure from society not to discuss children or to consider them somehow only important to their families. We must talk but also listen to children, to whistle blowers to survivors to campaigners.



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