However after it emerged earlier last month that councillors, police and social services turned a blind eye to the abuse of at least 1,400 children in Rotherham, it begs the question – are children in care safe?
At least 1,400 children were subjected to appalling sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. Children as young as 11 were raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted, trafficked to other cities in England, beaten and intimidated.
Failures by those charged with protecting children happened despite three reports which both the council and police were aware of.
With over 77,000 children in care across the UK, it is paramount that they are in safe, secure, loving homes. Many children in care have witnessed and often experienced abuse, neglect and/or violence. No child should ever have to deal with this, never mind be subject to sexual exploitation.
Safeguarding legislation and government guidance says that safeguarding means: “protecting children from maltreatment…ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care… to enable all young people to have the best outcome”.
Every child should be safeguarded to allow them to live contented, successful lives. Yet one question asked was why these girls were out overnight at all, many of them being in care. Even if they did manage to climb out of windows, surely something could have been done to protect them?
Speaking about her abuser, Isabel said: “I think because the police were aware and social services were aware and he knew that and they still didn’t stop him it I think it encouraged him.
“It almost became like a game to him. He was untouchable.”
This must not happen again
The council and its partners could and should have done more to protect these young people.
Speaking after the publication of the report, Victims’ Commissioner Baroness Newlove said: “It’s deeply distressing how the authorities failed to protect these young people and their voices were not heard. Everyone involved needs to take responsibility for the shocking failings that this report has exposed. This must not happen again”.