Former District Court chief judge Antoinette Kennedy, who spent more than a decade on the bench, said it would be “rare” for a week to go by without most of the 27 District Court judges dealing with at least one child sex abuse case.
“You could speak to any judge and most would tell you that they spend most of their time dealing with pedophiles and child sex offenders,” she said. “But because they are often related to the victim or if you identify the offender’s name it might reveal the identity of the child, it means it does not get reported.
“A lot of cases also don’t make it to trial. A lot of these offenders plead guilty and therefore the public don’t know about it.”
“The vast majority of children are abused by someone they know and the majority of those are abused within the home, within the family in your average neighbourhood,” president Dr Cathy Kezelman said.
“While it’s important to be aware of sexual assault by a stranger and pedophiles, we also as a society need to start talking about what does happen within the family home and break that taboo, so people can speak out and know where to turn. This is a pervasive social problem and it doesn’t appear to be particular to any nationality or religious group – it’s worldwide.”
While the information presented in this article is a legitimate cause for dismay the fact that the article exists at all, and then in a mainstream newspaper, is cause for hope and encouragement. This is what I call the last taboo. The fact that most child abuse is happening in the home or very close by is skirted around by most people and there is consequently very little political pressure to do anything about it. The more the fact is spotlighted in the media and hopefully accepted by the public, the more likely steps will be taken to address the issue. We have to acknowledge that there is a problem before we can start to address it. Before we can acknowledge it we have to be able to speak about it.
It is a start.