When Operation Yew Tree confirmed the crimes of Jimmy Saville, it should have put a nail in the coffin of the stranger, danger myth. Sadly like many self-protection myths, it persists to this day. The fact Saville was used to promote a book on stranger, danger and wrote the foreword can not be a more sickening example of the cognitive dissonance at work.
I have long been working on a piece that will form part of a future book on what fictional stories can tell us about self-protection. The book is on the backburner as I continue to finish my martial arts scepticism behemoth that hungrily demands more and more research, fact-checking and that most precious of commodities: time. However, the recent press release by the child protection charity, the NSPCC (National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children), prompted me to put something on my site. According to a BBC article:
“There were 31,000 offences recorded in the year up to April 2014, up 8,500 on the previous year.
Figures compiled by the charity show 85 offences were recorded by police every day, with significant rises in Scotland and Northern Ireland also.”
We need to take into consideration that this is the number of crimes being reported. It implies that a lot more are not being reported. Does it reflect an increase in child abuse in the UK? Probably not, but it’s still an alarming figure and even more alarming when one considers the NSPCC’s chief executive’s comment that the published statistics were
“a fraction of the true number of victims, because some endure an agonising wait of many years before telling anyone – and others never reveal what has happened to them”.
The statistic further revealed the following specific points:
“Most of the victims were aged between 12 and 16
“But 8,282 were younger than 11. Of those, 2,895 were estimated to be aged five or under, including 94 babies
“Some 24,457 of the reported abuse cases were against girls, with 5,292 against boys
“The Metropolitan Police recorded the highest number of sex crimes against children, with 3,523”.
What we hope this reflects is that reporting has increased rather than the actual crimes, prompted by the inevitable snowball effects caused by high profile cases and Operation Yew Tree. With more awareness and a better understanding of how organized child abuse operates in the 21st century – a topic I covered in my book “Mordred’s Victory” and in this original article. To quote a relevant excerpt:
“…the mutual alienation of individuals in our society today. In bygone years the man who preyed on children would be easier to spot, as everyone would know everyone in their local community. The oddball with the sinister intentions was often caught out fairly early on. In recent years we have the seen child abuser become bolder and bolder in his attitude. Maybe he doesn’t have many intimate or regular friends in his neighbourhood, but that is no different from most of the individuals who live down his road. However, on the internet he can find hundreds of like-minded individuals who will coach, encourage, feed and support his criminal ideals. They will also teach him how to best operate and even form paedophile rings with him.
“Proof of this boldness was revealed a few years ago on the exposure of one huge internet paedophile ring, where some of the perpetrators happily took interviews. Gone was the image of the repentant offender, hidden in the shadows and his voice disguised or replaced by an actor’s. Now we had the grinning martyr, just prior to his conviction, walking around his home town with the all airs of a civil rights activist. As far as he was concerned what he and his fellow offenders were doing was perfectly okay and – get this – they were being persecuted! Such attitudes have even led to the formation of paedophile activist groups. Yes people, these organizations do exist!”
This brings onto a key point I hope to address better in my chapter on Pied Pipers in my self-protection stories book. Society needs to better understand the myth of stranger danger. It’s a gimmick and it is ineffective. Statistics and experience should demonstrate to most people that the threat of any crime – child abuse in particular – will be perpetrated by someone the victim knows.
More often than not, when a dreadful crime is finally exposed it appears that the several people not directly involved with complicit in hushing the matter up. It’s a community mentality, where scandals and dramas are instinctively avoided not to cause widespread embarrassment. Such group behaviour is commonly seen within families. Many people reading this post will know of a paedophile of some sort. The archetype is the “pervy” uncle who everyone knows is “a bit odd”, but little is said outside of the family. There is nothing wrong with oddness or strangeness, but in this instance the term is being used to describe a “harmless” sexual predator. This individual is known for his cheeky ways. There will be the odd isolated episode where words were said and he was stopped, only to move onto another victim. On the whole, however, nothing is reported to the police. “It’s just his way”, is a common cover line.
I see the cases involving celebrities like the TV presenter, Jimmy Saville to be the “odd” uncle on a huge scale. Details of the case caused outrage as it appeared so many people turned a blind eye for a variety of reasons, and Saville’s arrogance let the truth about darker side often slip out in interviews and even in his autobiography. The idea that the man’s crimes were an open secret amongst many who worked in the media was no surprise to me. Having been born in showbusiness, I can say that this is how communities often operate and the media can sometimes feel like one big dysfunctional family.
A few years ago I read Margaux Fragoso’s thought-provoking “Tiger, Tiger: A Memoir” [read my review]. The biographical story tells a very candid account of years of child abuse and was a real eye-opener for me. It shows the not only the complexities of an ongoing child abuse situation, including something that resembles Stockhold Sydrome, but also the way such a crime is permitted in a society. People have their suspicions, but no one acts. Others, often those closest to the child victim, often go into denial. The book is beautifully written and courageous in many ways. It seems to stand above the majority of sensationalised tragic child biographies out there.
My hope is that the publishing of these new statistics will alert more people to the scale of abuse going on and, furthermore, that there is a better understanding of how the abuse occurs. I also hope that self-protection teachers like me can draw useful information for better educating young students and their parents in self-protection.