I think Baroness Murphy makes some powerful points. I am still unsure about the wisdom of this. Some points of concern can be ironed out but I think the key question is will it prevent abuse? I find a number of people who work with children insisting that it will but Baroness Murphy is right to point out that most abuse takes place either in the home or by a friend or relative.
This new authority has come about because of the insistence in the press and elsewhere that the government must act to prevent further horrific cases that hit the headlines. I can remember headlines in the 1950’s about such cases but they rarely led to a campaign for legislative action. If murder was involved then the debate would be about capital punishment and not a new regulatory authority.
I would guess that the incidence of abuse was no less in previous decades then it is now but we are far more conscious of it. Prior to the 1960’s child sexual abuse would often be referred to as incest. People didn’t like it but it was quite often seen as a family matter like the domestic abuse of woman and not something the state could do much about even if there were laws against it. Times have changed and in my view for the better but we do find ourselves setting up institutional organisations to try and prevent actions which cause anger in society.
There is a curious route from public anger about a tragedy leading to a media storm to politicians reacting by agreeing to legislate. This can be beneficial but not always. Think of the accidents involving children on school trips and the overprotective reaction leading to teachers being fearful of putting any child into a situation where there can be risk. This is very different to sexual abuse but the process of public concern to political reaction is not so different.
I’ll have to get my thinking cap on for this one!