Safeguarding in the media

Safeguarding in the media

I can’t help but get frustrated with recent media reports about areas of abuse, neglect or concern in different parts of society. Bad news is rearing its ugly head all over the place, gathering interest from local, regional and national media.

In the wake of the Saville enquiry, Yewtree and the much-publicised Rotherham abuse cases, it is no surprise that there’s more awareness and media exposure to this. Even The York Press, a local paper to where I live, has recently published an article discussing NSPCC reports that Facebook is the most used site by online groomers, local reporting and awareness that I do indeed welcome.


So why the frustration?

Time. That’s what. As in “it’s about time” and “it’s taken a long time”. In the field I work in, I’m known to some people for having an opinion and doing things differently to how they perhaps would. Translate this as ‘having passion’ and ‘shaking the system’ up – and see this as a positive.

Don’t get me wrong, I by no means cut corners or take the easy route, however I do find myself pulling out my hair when ‘revelations’ are published – when so, so many of us in the industry have been telling the story for so long already.

Yes, it’s great that so many cases are being dealt with now, and there’s no hiding anymore – even The British institution that is the BBC has had some very uncomfortable PR moments post Yewtree, but what it tells me is that we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg. It’s taken this long to uncover Jimmy Saville’s wrongdoings – so how many other people are there, hidden away in corners of the country with victims too scared or ashamed to speak up?

So for all the wrongs people have committed, it appears that it is this that has made us sit up and take notice. A sad statement on the state of the world, and something I write with disappointment.


Safeguarding – it is everyone’s issue

This line sounds like something a marketing person would come up with, but it wasn’t. I use this sentence a lot. But in the wake of the media noise and no end of lurid tales of (formerly) household names in the entertainment/film/sport/music business – as well as enough shocking news from communities and neighbourhoods, it’s true to say that safeguarding really IS everyone’s business.

Potentially, abuse can affect everyone.

Just consider the areas where abuse has taken place (and therefore, could you assume it is still taking place?;

To back this up with some evidence, a study by the Centre for American Progress* showed that between 2005 and 2015, the top five industries who had filed sexual harassment charges were;

  1. Accommodation and food services (14.23%)
  2. Retail trade (13.4%)
  3. Manufacturing (11.72%)
  4. Health care and social assistance (11.48%)
  5. Administrative & support (6.92%)


 Notice how the one you would expect (from recent news) – such as the film industry, don’t make the top 10? (No. 16: Arts, entertainment & recreation – 1.61%)


Beyond the classroom

The good news is that education IS happening, of that I’m sure. But I would like this to go further. Much further. We can’t rest on our laurels because it’s now ‘known’ and famous people are in the news being named, shamed and charged. What’s important is that education and awareness goes beyond the classroom environment. Whether that ‘classroom’ is in a school, or an initiative of learning from the Health & Safety Executive. Who else is exposed to, or witness to the results of abuse? Parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, colleagues, neighbours, that person sat on the bus, the hotel receptionist….)

Unfortunately, we are at the stage where everyone needs to be observant and aware.


A word of caution

However, just as I write this, I see an article about RNLI crew members being sacked over ‘safeguarding issues’ when it appears the reason for the case in hand was due to a coffee mug with a ‘nudie’ on it. A piece of fun taken too far? Yes, offensive to some, and sexist too – but was this report of ‘safeguarding issues’ or more to do with internet clickbait when an HR disciplinary would equally have educated the offenders?

The point being that although we must all take greater responsibility for the care of others around us – we must also be careful not to sensationalise the issue. Once it becomes a media circus, the lines between fact and fiction will begin to blur, and the attention will go from the real issues to the gossip, the rumour and the hearsay.