Rotherham: Shouting into the void


Why was no one listening? The report released this week into the widespread abuse and sexual exploitation of children in Rotherham makes for shocking reading.

What is so astonishing is not simply the number of children involved, nor the timescale over which the abuse continued, but the apparent willingness of so many of those in authority to just “turn a blind eye”. 

Children as young as 11 were reporting sexual exploitation, yet this was dismissed as “consensual sex” – the age of consent is 16 for a reason.

The hackneyed refrain is that “lessons must be learned”, yet this is one of a number of local authorities where sexual exploitation of young people has been exposed – remember Rochdale, Oxford?

It seems that very far from any lessons being learned, the response is at best inertia, at worst censure towards the victims. In Rochdale, vulnerable girls who tried to report abuse were described by council workers as “making a lifestyle choice”. That was in 2012.

In November 2013, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, released a report on sexual exploitation in gangs and groups entitled “If only someone had listened”. In the foreward to that report, Sue Berelowitz states “Never again should a traumatised child have to say: ‘If only someone had listened to me perhaps I would have been OK’.” And yet here we are again – another child abuse scandal involving abuse by a group of men who acted with apparent impunity, while professionals failed to act according the most basic of safeguarding protocols.

A quick trawl of social media and the news channels reveals a general outpouring of disbelief that this could be allowed to happen on such a scale, and frustration that this keeps happening and no one is held accountable.

My question is, what makes it so hard for those charged with child protection – for example, the Police and Social Care – to listen and believe when children and young people are crying out for help?




Psychotherapy offers a safe, caring, supportive and confidential space to talk openly about difficulties, and explore how past experiences may be impacting on your life.

How can psychotherapy help >

Outdoor Therapy

Outdoor Therapy

I work with metaphor and symbol to link to each person's unconscious process. Some of the first 'art' we made was created through exploratory play in the natural world. 

Connect with the natural world >

Public Speaking

Public Keynote Speaker

I am an experienced Public Keynote Speaker providing thought provoking insight. I am available to speak at conferences on issues relating to mental wellbeing. 

More on public speaking >


Youth Workshops

An area of interest is the impact on young people of growing up in the digital age. I run workshops in secondary schools looking at emotional awareness in relationships.

More on youth workshops >