There are nearly 13 million children in England and Wales, each of whom needs and deserves to be protected from harm. Babies, toddlers and children are potentially at risk, with current estimates indicating that 1 in 6 girls and 1 in 20 boys experience child sexual abuse before the age of 16. In March 2020, the Office for National Statistics estimated that 3.1 million adults in England and Wales had experienced sexual abuse before the age of 16. Reflecting the guiding principle that the child’s welfare is paramount, the Inquiry’s recommendations are focussed on making England and Wales places for children to grow up safely and thrive.
The work of the Inquiry over the past seven years demonstrates that:
At the heart of this report are the Inquiry’s recommendations to help protect children. There needs to be a greater priority and focus, politically and across society as a whole, on protecting children from sexual abuse. The establishment of the Child Protection Authorities in England and in Wales, coupled with national public awareness campaigns, are designed to ensure that the spotlight remains directed at preventing child sexual abuse.
These recommendations will be reinforced by cabinet-level ministerial positions for children to provide senior leadership and increased priority within government. One of the aims of the public awareness campaign is to inform the public about the action they should take if they know or suspect a child is being sexually abused. This will complement the recommendation fr a new law of mandatory reporting making it a legal requirement for those who work in regulated activity or work in a position of trust to report child sexual abuse.
The impact of past failures to protect children from sexual abuse and to support those who have been harmed is incalculable. To address this, the Inquiry considers that a redress scheme must be established to make some reparation for the harm suffered.