Warning over care home sexual abuse

 

Children in care homes are being subjected to sexual abuse of a “violent and sadistic nature”, England's Deputy Children's Commissioner Sue Berelowitz has warned. 

She made the comments as the Government announced new reforms that aim to better protect youngsters who reside in the country's 455 children's homes.

The action comes following a report published by Ms Berelowitz, which was ordered after the jailing of a sex abuse ring in May which preyed on vulnerable girls in Rochdale.

Only one of the girls was in care at the time of the abuse but all were said to have been known to social services at some point in their childhood.

The ongoing inquiry has highlighted evidence that children in care are particularly vulnerable to child sex exploitation, with some residential homes being specifically targeted by abusers.

Ms Berelowitz said her research found perpetrators come from all ethnic groups, as do their victims, who are as young as 11 and are largely but not exclusively girls.

Speaking alongside Children's Minister Tim Loughton as he announced the new measures, she said she had been shocked by what she had found out.

She said of the abuse: “It is of a violent and sadistic nature.

“I've been in the children's services field for a very long time, and I have never come across the scale of violence and sadism that I'm encountering now. The stories that children and young people tell us are truly horrific.

“I think it's quite right and proper that the Government is paying special attention to this group of children as the state is their parent and therefore we have a special duty of care to children who are under care orders of one kind or another.”

Mr Loughton said three steps of immediate action were to be taken.

Although police figures show that an estimated 10,000 children go missing from care every year, the Government's official data recorded only 930 children disappearing.

Mr Loughton said a new system of measuring how many children go missing each year would be used, while more would be done to ensure that children's homes are properly protected and located as police and local authorities are not currently able to share information about where they are.

More will also be done to make sure children are sent to homes closer to where they are from. Mr Loughton said there were currently clusters of children's homes in certain areas, particularly coastal resorts like Margate in Kent, and in his own constituency in Worthing, West Sussex.

Mr Loughton said the Government wanted to tackle the “out of sight, out of mind culture” that allows abuse to go on.

He said: “We are talking about a very vulnerable group of children. Children who come into care should expect a degree of safety in the care of the state.

“Children who come from very traumatic backgrounds, they may have been abused or neglected for a long time, need to know they are safe in the form of care the state is providing for them.

“These reports lift the lid on very serious weaknesses in the system.

“There are good children's homes and excellent care workers but it is clear that far too many of the most vulnerable children in society are being exposed to harm and danger.

“It is completely unacceptable that existing rules are simply being ignored and that frankly, some local authorities and homes are letting down children by failing to act as a proper parent.

Children's charity Barnardo's said 31% of the 3,500 young people it looked after through its sexual exploitation services in the last six years were in care.

Chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said: “We know that children from all walks of life are at risk of child sexual exploitation, but those who are already vulnerable, such as children in care, are especially so.

“We need to be sure that by clustering vulnerable children together in certain areas of England we are not putting already desperate children in even greater danger of being preyed upon.

“It is worrying that we don't know the true level of this threat and better data collection will be key. However, action is also needed to protect those children in care now.”

Ann Coffey MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, said she welcomed action to clamp down on the high numbers of children being homed out of their boroughs.

She said nearly half (46%) are placed in homes miles away from their home towns.

She said: “Failure to take action will lead to more and more horrific Rochdale cases. We would never forgive ourselves if by inaction we allowed more children to be lured into the living nightmare of sexual exploitation.”

Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children's Society, said: “It is a scandal that children who go missing from care are being systematically failed and placed in great danger by a system that is allegedly there to protect them.

“The recent exposure of horrific cases of sexual exploitation, trafficking and other shocking crimes leave no room for doubt that there are huge gaps in the system that must be closed urgently.

“ There must be a dramatic change in attitudes and culture towards these very vulnerable children.”

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
people
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Arts and Entertainment
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
tv'Friends' cafe will be complete with Gunther and orange couch
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone