Monday, August 18, 2014

Child Sexual Assault - The Evidence for Harm

Sexual abuse of children is highly emotive subject, but here I am going to try to delve into the facts and figures dispassionately. I depend mainly on the excellent Bravehearts organisation, an Australian outfit, particularly their 2012 review of the literature. Some of the points will be simply copied and pasted, but I will try to put the data into a clear pattern. If references are not given here, they will be found in the Braveheart Review.

Data in social and psychological science is often fairly uncertain, as it comes from surveys of different populations, in which different criteria may have been used, so we will have to accept figures presented as broad ranges. Part of the difficulty in being precise is that "Abuse" covers a wide range of behavior, from a brief but inappropriate fondle to rape, torture and murder.

The Prevalence of Abuse

Prevalence is the proportion of a population found to have a condition - as opposed to incidence which is a measure of new cases arising in a population over a given period.

An international meta-analysis of 169 studies found that lifetime prevalence rates of sexual abuse for females is 25% and for males it is 8%. [1]
This compares reasonably well with a study in Australia, which concluded that about one in three girls (33%) and one in six boys (17%) will be sexually abused in some way before the age of 18 years. [2]
There is a useful breakdown of figures for different countries here.

All socio-economic groups are affected.
The commonest age of abuse is from 3 to 12, with the greatest risk at 8-9.
Only 17-38% of victims of abuse made a report.
98% of reports made by children are truthful. Only 2% are made up. [3]
Only 5% of cases are perpetrated by a stranger. In 95% of cases the abuser is known to the child.

The vast majority of abusers are male, but 5% of female abusees and 20% of male abusees report that their abuser was female.

The damaging effects of child sexual abuse.

Paedophiles try to make a case that their predilection is natural and an expression of love.
The facts are otherwise.

The behaviours and symptoms listed below have been associated with child sexual abuse.
(Needless to say, not every abused person is destined to get all or even some of these effects, but statistically, the risk is present).

  • lack of confidence, low self esteem, self-hatred
  • agressive feelings
  •  violent behaviour 
  • criminal convictions (70% of prisoners were abused as children [13])
  • promiscuous behaviour
  • suicide (increased by a factor of 4-12 [12])
  • parasuicide
  • self-harm
  • depression, fear, anxiety, anger and guilt feelings
  • psychosomatic symptoms
  • sleeping disorders
  • nightmares
  • eating disorders
  • sexual difficulties
  • inability to form lasting relationships
  • marital problems 
  • poor parenting skills.
Source: [7][8]

67% of men and women in psychiatric hospital were sexually abused as children.[9] 
Given that the prevalence in the general population of sexual abuse is 17-33%, this means that the chance of having serious psychiatric problems is multiplied by a factor of  2-3 times for victims of sexual abuse. This risk increases even more when we remember that many homeless people and prisoners are not helped by psychiatric services.

71% to 90% of adolescent girls, and 
23% to 42% of adolescent boys in a inpatient substance-abuse treatment program 
reported histories of childhood sexual abuse [10]
Teenagers with alcohol problems are 21 times more likely to have been sexually abused than those without such problems. [11]

These are just a few samples of the wealth of evidence presented in the Braveheart document, but they should be enough to persuade any reasonable person that child sexual abuse has a significant impact on the NHS mental health services and on the courts and prisons. Economists who do not necessarily care about 

humanitarian concerns should be impressed at the implications for future funding of these services. 

The evidence is that money put into treatment of survivors of sexual abuse will be a good investment that will reduce the burden on psychiatric and prison services.

Effective help is available, but Government must give it adequate funding.

In particular, effort applied to bringing VIP child abusers to justice will be a good investment.


1 World Health Organization, Comparative risk assessment: Child sexual abuse. 2001,
WHO Collaborating Centre for Evidence and Health Policy in Mental Health: Sydney,
2 Australian Institute of Criminology (1993). Second Conference on Violence (June
3 Dympna House (1990). Facing the Unthinkable. Haberfield [NSW]: Dympna House.
4 Hindman, J. (1988). Research disputes and assumptions about child molesters. National District Attorney Association Bulletin, 7(4): 1-3.
5 National Institute of Mental Health (1988). (Incomplete reference)
6 National Child Protection Clearinghouse (2005). Child Abuse Prevention Resource Sheet (no.7)
7 Waters B. & Kelk N. (1991) Does Being an Incest Victim Influence the Capacity to Parent? In P. Hetherington (Ed.) Incest and the Community: Australian Perspectives. Perth: Penelope Hetherington.
8 Oates, R. K. & Tong, L. (1987). Sexual abuse of children: An area with room for professional reforms. The Medical Journal of Australia, 147.
9 Jacobson A, & Richardson B. (1987). Assault Experiences of 100 Psychiatric
Inpatients: Evidence of the Need for Routine Inquiry. American Journal of
Psychiatry, 144: 908-913.
10 Rohsenow DJ, Corbett R, & Devine D. (1988). Chemical Dependency Treatment Program, Mid-Maine Medical Center, Waterville, Maine. Molested As Children: A Hidden Contribution to Substance Abuse? Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 5: 13-18.
11 Clark HW, McClanahan TM, & Sees KL. (1997). Cultural Aspects of Adolescent
Addiction and Treatment. Valparaaiso University Law Review, 31(2).
12 Felitti, VJ, et al. (1998). Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 14: 245-258. 13 Queensland Children's Commission (1997). Paedophilia in Queensland Report. Brisbane: Children’s Commission.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Nascent Campaign for Justice for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

This post is copied from the VIPCSA wiki. 

The UK establishment in Westminster, Whitehall and elsewhere is like the Augean Stables, full of powerful people who have been covering up and blocking investigation of child sex abuse. Hercules cleaned the Augean Stables by diverting a river through them. In our case we need a river of testimony from survivors of abuse, supported by people who are outraged by the massive injustice that soils our nation.
A head of steam is building up within civil society to correct this injustice. All abusers must be brought to justice, but particularly abusers who have taken advantage of their positions of power to cover up their actions and block investigation into their crimes.
The campaign is at the moment is gathering itself together.

Social Media
Social media has given wings to this campaign, with many survivors of abuse taking to Twitter (see hashtages #csa #csainquiry #VIPaedophile and #avoice4all).
There are also a number of blogs on the topic of abuse.
There are several petitions in circulation, some about specific cases of injustice, one calling for the official overarching Inquiry to have survivors on the panel, and one for it to be led by Michael Mansfield QC.
Another possible web-based tool would be a database where survivors and witnesses could enter data anonymously and securely, detailing the who, where, when, and what of their abuse.

Peoples Tribunal
One of the main proposals is to form a Peoples Tribunal (PT) to run in parallel to the official inquiry. This is an indication of the lack of trust that has grown up, with good reason, in the ability of the establishment to offer justice to survivors of abuse.
Here is the Facebook page on the Peoples Tribunal.
There are precendents for the Peoples Tribunal in the Russell Tribunal aka International War Crimes Tribunal. There is also the Iran Tribunalwhich is at present looking into human rights abuses in Iran.
The Peoples Tribunal could be led by John Cooper QC.
PT is certainly one possible way forward. It would require a lot of dedicated work, and also a lot of money to pay for full-time work, and travelling expenses etc. for witnesses.

Another possibility that could support and initiate the PT is to call a national Conference for Survivors of Abuse.
Conferences can offer a morale boost to people who have been fighting for justice on their own for many years.
The conference could have a few speakers setting out the facts of the situation, but would be mainly devoted to workshops where survivors could talk together, offer support and discuss ideas for obtaining justice and ways of being heard.
Last, arising out of the Conference, or maybe arising independently-  a network for support.

Network of Survivors
Mutual support networks in cities and towns where survivors can meet regularly to gain the support that peer groups can offer. This is a low-cost grassroots movement, but can be very powerful. Alcoholics Anonymous and many other self-help groups offer a model.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions re Child Sexual Abuse by Persons of Public Prominence

I have been writing to the CPS about the Labour peer who faces 20 charges of child sexual abuse, but has pleaded the Saunders Defence. The CPS have been giving me the run-around, so I have gone to the top. Here is my letter. Feel free to copy, customise and send. Be civil.

It just occurs to me: I hope Alison isn't related to Ernest. 

Alison Saunders
Director of Public Prosecutions
Crown Prosecution Service
2 Rose Court, London,
London SE1 9HS

Cc John Penrose MP

Dear Alison Saunders

I am writing to request that the Crown Prosecution Service seek further medical tests on an unnamed Peer who is suspected of abusing children. Let us call him Suspect J. This Labour peer and past MP was questioned by police in December 2013 over 20 child sex abuse allegations, but was deemed to be suffering from dementia and therefore unable to answer questions.

You will recall the case of the fraudster Ernest Saunders, one of the Guinness Four, who was released from prison because of dementia, but who subsequently made a recovery from said “dementia”. In view of this precedent, I am sure that you will agree that it would be wise to have a second (or third) opinion on the diagnosis of Suspect J, with full psychometric testing and MRI in order to be absolutely certain that he is truly suffering from dementia, and not just taking refuge in the Saunders Defence. This action is necessary at very least to build up public trust in our governmental system, which has taken a few knocks recently.

In terms of the evidential criterion for prosecution, 20 witnesses would seem to provide enough evidence for a prosecution. There may be an issue with the ability of survivors of abuse to stand up to adversarial questioning by the defence barrister, but you are aware of the need to rebalance the court process so that it is fairer to vulnerable witnesses. You are aware of the tragic case of the violinist who killed herself after giving evidence about her abuse in court. Abused people cope by repressing the memories, and it is greatly upsetting for them to have to resurrect these memories in detail, especially in court under hostile cross-examination. We are of course aware that the process has to be balanced so as not to be unfair to the defendant, but this is a matter for the Government and legal profession to look at in a reasonable way.

It is beyond any reasonable doubt that it is in the public interest to bring this case to court. There has clearly been an enormous amount of sexual abuse of children in care homes of various kinds in the past. We cannot be certain that it is not continuing today.

Sexual abuse has serious adverse effects on abusees, in terms of psychological problems of all degrees. There is a high incidence of suicide among survivors of abuse. For many, social function is impaired, and about 10% get a criminal record. A 1997 study by HMP Inspectorate of Prisons concluded that 30-70% of female prisoners had experienced childhood sexual abuse.

The State intervened in the lives of these children, assuming loco parentis. In the case of the many children who were abused, the State has signally failed to discharge its duties correctly and has betrayed the trust put in it. Therefore the State has a clear duty to rectify its failures by causing all abusers, without exception, to face the consequences of their actions.

There is a substantial body of evidence that points to a tendency to cover up on the part of the authorities. I have collected 40 instances of responses which could be seen as such. The cover-up response adds insult to the injury which has been inflicted on children. Such cover-ups are inimical to the functioning of a healthy democracy. Indeed, they can be seen as a form of corruption, where political influence is used, not just for financial gain, but to obtain immunity from prosecution for serious crimes.

Paedophiles exercise a great deal of denial when viewing their activities. If it is known that persons of public prominence are exempt from prosecution, this will confirm to them that what they are doing is acceptable. If on the other hand, they see that even serving MPs and other people of high rank are prosecuted for sexual abuse of children, this will cause some of them to draw back from acting out their inclinations.

I hope you will agree therefore that there is a clear public interest in bringing a prosecution in the case of Suspect J.

Regarding the supposed mental condition of Suspect J, in reading the Code for Crown Prosecutors, I find no exemptions from prosecution for people suffering from any form of mental or physical condition.

If after another psychiatric assessment, psychometric testing and use of MRIs and other tests for dementia it is determined that Suspect J is indeed suffering from dementia, I would be grateful if you could explain why, in terms of the Code, he should not be brought to Court.

Many thanks for giving attention to these representations.

With best wishes,

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Funny how you can never find a Libertarian when you need one

Regular readers of the Mabinogogiblog (peace be upon them) will know that I spend a lot of time debating with libertarians, chiefly about climate change. Libertarians tend to deny than man-made CO2 can affect the planetary climate.

They arrive at this position through the Fallacy of Consequences, thusly:
1 if climate change is right, libertarians are going to have to use less petrol.
2 libertarians refuse to be told to use less petrol
3 therefore climate science is wrong.

Obvs they dress it up a bit, but that is he essence of their argument.

Your slightly more thoughtful libertarian, like Mark Littlewood, will want to reduce the tax take in the UK down from the present 47% of GDP to 29% of GDP. 

In the course of debate you discover that they hold the State to be inherently Wrong About Everything. The State should stop taxing us and just leave us to get on with our lives in liberty, then everything will be all right.

Now here's the point. Greens think libertarians are wrong about the State being 100% Evil, but we do find that the State behaves stupidly a lot of the time, and its agents often do wrong things. This is what Greens spend a lot of time doing, trying to put the wheels of the State I back onto the track of democracy, equality and sustainability. 

My current obsession is filling out this wiki which is about how agents of the State - MPs, police, the CPS, a social worker and others - have managed  to sexually abuse children who were placed in "care" and to then cover up and block investigation of their very serious crimes, which probably include murder.

You would expect libertarians to be shouting about this from the rooftops, wouldn't you? Given at they are so anti-State. Here we have agents of the State committing crimes and covering up. Perfect example of their thesis of the Evil State.

Yet - nada. Silence from the libertarian corner of the room, apart from a few thumb-sucking noises. It is true that Greens have not been particularly active in this arena, probably because we are a bit preoccupied with the atrocities happening in Gaza, but Caroline Lucas was one of the "Magnificent Seven" MPs who called for an inquiry into child abuse.

So, come on Mark Littlewood, Paul Staines and all you libertarians who are so convinced your philosophy is so right that it overrides science: let's hear your voices raised against the crimes of commission and cover up by agents of the State.