Hope for the Child Victims of Rotherham

The gut-wrenching facts of what happened teach us a lot about today’s Britain. Thankfully, it isn’t the end of the story.

Britain was shocked by the content of a report published in August revealing massive sexual exploitation of teens in and around the town of Rotherham. For more than 15 years, predators, mostly Pakistani men, have horrifically abused hundreds of youths, mostly white girls—and authorities have looked the other way.

The report, written by Prof. Alexis Jay, found that between 1997 and 2013, about 1,400 minors were sexually exploited—and that’s a “conservative estimate.”

“It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered,” the report states. Even in the dry, factual language of an official report, it is difficult reading.

The children “were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten and intimidated,” the report says. “There were examples of children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone. Girls as young as 11 were raped by large numbers of male perpetrators. This abuse is not confined to the past but continues to this day.”

“One young person told us that ‘gang rape’ was a usual part of growing up in the area of Rotherham in which she lived,” the report states.

Just a usual part of growing up—like your first day of school, learning to ride a bike, or getting a summer job.

“The impact sexual exploitation had on them was absolutely devastating,” it reads. “Many children repeatedly self-harmed, and some became suicidal. They suffered family breakdown, and some became homeless. Several years after they had been abused, a disproportionate number were victims of domestic violence, had developed long-standing drug and alcohol addiction, and had parenting difficulties with their own children.”

“Many suffered post-traumatic stress and endured lasting psychological and emotional damage that diminished their capacity to lead normal lives,” the report states. One victim said that “sexual exploitation is like a circle that you can never escape from.”

Even the report’s author, who has investigated these kinds of atrocities before, was “shocked” at “the horrible nature of the sexual acts” and the “utter brutality” that she uncovered. “It was truly frightening that people in our country could be doing that,” she said.

The problem predominated within the Pakistani Muslim community in Rotherham. This raises additional disturbing questions about the culture of this particular group and the corrosive influence of political correctness in motivating officials to look the other way.

Events in this town of over 250,000 represent abuses routinely occurring throughout England. They teach us a lot about life in Britain today. The tragedy of Rotherham’s children is only possible because of failings at every level of society—in the family, the police, social services, and local and national government. This is about a deep sickness in British society, and it is a sickness shared by many countries around the world.

Family Breakdown

For many of these girls, the problem began in their families. The report found that 46 percent of them had “a history of domestic violence.” In other words, nearly half of these victimized children grew up in families where the father or some other man around the house was so abusive that he beat at least one member of the family.

One third of the victims were being looked after by the state—removed from their families due to the death of their parents or, more likely, because their parents were incapable of rearing them.

The report makes clear that those responsible for the children failed on many accounts. But the government is looking after a huge number of children: 30,000 were taken into care over the past year in England alone. In part due to family breakdown and also because of a social system that is far too quick to steal children away from their parents, Britain’s care system is overwhelmed. With so many children involved, the state cannot provide the guardianship and care these children need.

The result is a large pool of children desperate for love and affection. So desperate, in fact, that they will do anything to gain what they hope is love—from their tormentors. These are victims that abusers in Rotherham and elsewhere in Britain prey upon.

Andrew Norfolk, the chief investigative reporter at the Times who first broke the story and whose reporting helped bring the scandal to light, described the process of recruiting these girls: “The victims were always aged 12 to 15, the first contact was in a public place—a shopping mall, a town center, a bus or train station—and a grooming process developed in which girls were initially flattered and excited by the attentions of young men a few years older than them who took an interest, offered the adult thrills of cigarettes, alcohol and rides in flashy cars, then wanted to become their boyfriends.

“A sexual relationship developed in which the girl was sooner or later asked to prove her love by sleeping with his best friend, then with more friends. In the worst cases, girls were being taken to ‘parties’ in house [sic] and flats, or put in cars and driven to locations across the country. Always for sex; often violent sex.”

It starts with girls thinking that someone finally loves them. Too often it ends with them going through heartbreak and misery, and becoming too scared or ashamed to tell anyone about their ordeal. Some become suicidal. Some end up earning their tormentors $325,000 a year as child prostitutes.

It is important to note that although the Rotherham report talked mainly about girls, boys were also victims. They too suffered horribly. There are far fewer reports of abuse of boys, but this could be that they were even more reluctant to come forward and talk to the authorities than the girls.

Uncaring Authorities

At this point the authorities entered the picture. Or rather, they should have entered the picture, but didn’t. Too many simply didn’t want to know what was happening. The police treated these girls as adults, capable of making their own decisions in these relationships. They ignored the reality that they were children being emotionally manipulated and intimidated into doing whatever their tormentors wanted.

Professor Jay’s report says that in two cases, girls’ fathers tracked down their daughters, found the houses where they were being abused, and called the police. The police arrived—and arrested the fathers.

In another case, the police found one of these victims half naked and in bed with a man much older than her. The man was not investigated for child rape. Instead, she was arrested for being drunk and disorderly.

Police give no priority to these kinds of crimes. Instead, the report states, they were “regarding many child victims with contempt and failing to act on their abuse as a crime.” Several earlier reports “were ignored, and no action was taken to deal with the issues that were identified in them.” Time and again, school teachers, taxi drivers and others raised alarm, but police refused to listen.

Local authorities also turned a blind eye to what was going on. In the early 2000s, a Home Office official traveled to Rotherham to conduct a report on child sexual exploitation as part of a project investigating several towns. Council officials allegedly tried to bully her into rewriting sections of the report. She was so concerned with the situation that she went straight to the chief constable of the local police. But even the police tried to bully the official into silence rather than addressing the problem.

Finally, the council launched a special police raid, according to the Times. However, it was not against any of the abusers. Instead, it was against one of their own offices—to remove incriminating files. Every file used in the official’s report was removed. Records were wiped from computers, and the names, addresses and photographs of the abusers were confiscated.

The official submitted her report to the Home Office unedited, but nothing happened. A decade later, it still has not been published.

Ultimately the police and local authorities seemed more concerned with bureaucratic box-ticking, meeting targets, and making themselves look good than they were about the welfare of the young girls in their city that they took an oath to protect.

A Sex-Crazed Society

This scandal reveals a profound sickness in Britain’s society that the nation still refuses to address: its highly sexualized culture.

Britain’s teens are bombarded with sex—even teenage sex—everywhere they go. It’s on billboards, in ads, on tv and even in the books they read at school. The message is that sex is everywhere—that everyone, including teens, is having sex all the time. Another increasingly strong message is that deviant sexual practices are actually normal, common and healthy.

How deranged is your society when a 12-year-old girl thinks nothing is amiss when a man twice her age—married with children—wants to be her “boyfriend”? When he asks her to sleep with some of his “best friends” too, and she doesn’t run for her life? Don’t blame her. She’s only 12. All she knows is what the world around her has taught her. The biggest thing she’s learned from pop culture about being an adult woman is that she has to be sexy in order to be liked and valued.

This culture has affected the police and council authorities too. Three Rotherham council members had to be disciplined for watching pornography on their work computers. One person interviewed by the inquiry said that the council was “a very grubby environment” in which to work. Another said that a colleague’s “barometer [regarding] sexual matters was skewed.”

One of the abusers, married with children and a pregnant wife, got a 14-year-old girl pregnant. The council officials treated the relationship between the teen and the older, married man as perfectly normal. He was even invited along to her antenatal appointments.

Sadly, given the moral climate of today’s society, none of this should be terribly shocking.

Social workers are told that if a 13-year-old comes in and says she wants an abortion, then she must have one. If the social worker tells the girl’s parents, he will lose his job. He is taught and institutionally pressured to withhold counsel or guidance that may well be in the girl’s best interest simply because she is an “adult” and free to make her own decisions.

Ultimately, police and social workers are taught to treat girls as adults, perfectly capable of making their own choices about sex and relationships. So that is exactly what they do in Rotherham. The reasoning goes like this: This 11-year-old thinks this 25-year-old man who sleeps around with a dozen other kids is her boyfriend? Well, that’s her choice.

By British law, sexual relations with someone under the age of 16 is rape. Children under 16 are rightly deemed incapable of giving consent. But in practice, to put it mildly, the law is often ignored. Society—even many of those who find Rotherham revolting—would be in an uproar if police upheld this law in every case, or even in most cases. So once they began to ignore the law, where to draw the line became unclear. Having been taught to ignore it in some cases, they went on to just ignore it all the time. Steeped in a “don’t judge” philosophy, council officials and social workers justify their attempts to quash investigations by saying that they are protecting the children’s privacy.

Many right-wing commentators have quite rightly condemned the council for sacrificing these girls because they didn’t want to rock the racial boat (sidebar: “A Sickness Created by Political Correctness”). But a read of the official report shows that this warped attitude to teenage sex was an even bigger factor in refusing to face the problem.

This scandal proves another politically incorrect truth: that teenagers are not adults. They need the help of parents, or, absent that, adult authority figures—especially when it comes to sex and relationships. But the British government, social workers and all of society teach the opposite. Apparently the attitude holds that if 1,400 young girls are collateral damage, so be it.

‘The Whole Head Is Sick’

Each story of each victim is an overflowing tragedy. One girl was left so convinced of her own worthlessness that she tried to kill herself through “serious overdoses and trying to throw herself in front of cars,” the report says. Another girl from an abusive family background with parents who had mental health problems was “very naive and desperate for affection.” Instead she was “sexually exploited … by adult males she thought were her boyfriends” who targeted children’s homes.

And these statutory rapists had free rein. “To avoid rocking the multicultural boat,” local leaders “fed 1,400 children to the sharks,” concluded the Telegraph’s chief interviewer, Allison Pearson. “No just God would stand for what they did.”

“[T]he whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.” That is God’s description of today’s society. “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” (Isaiah 1:5-6). Britain has completely failed to protect some of its most vulnerable children. Can we describe that any other way than putrefyingly sick? If so, our barometers are skewed.

Pearson is right. No just God would stand for this. Yet this has happened. So is there a God? And is He just?

Hope for the Fatherless

There is a Creator God, and He knows every detail of every sobbing victim in Rotherham and around the world. He reveals Himself as a God who has special concern for children made fatherless by death or abandonment. He is a “father of the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5). And He is full of fury toward those who abuse the fatherless, like the predators—and the leaders—of Rotherham.

God pinpoints our condition: The whole head is sick. A few verses later, He pinpoints our leaders: “Your princes are rebellious, And companions of thieves; Everyone loves bribes, and follows after rewards. They do not defend the fatherless” (Isaiah 1:23; New King James Version). Does that describe Rotherham? Does that describe current officeholders who protect their careers more than our orphans?

God hates the depraved sin tearing people apart in places like Rotherham. So why doesn’t He stop it? Why doesn’t He shield us and our children from these consequences? Whatever the cause is, why doesn’t He miraculously stop the effect?

It is because we have chosen—repeatedly, dogmatically, vociferously—to ignore, impugn and rebel against God. We want to live the way we decide is best. Even now, no one in Rotherham is crying out that real repentance and obedience to God is the only real solution. We’d rather risk mass-scale child statutory rape than submit to an omnipotent spiritual authority.

But obeying the Creator of human relationships and human beings is the only solution.

That is how the fatherless are defended. That is how monsters are stopped. That is how a family wasteland turns into a nurturing home. That is how the life of a young girl switches tracks from suicidal abuse victim to sparkling, joyful darling. Yes, believe it or not, the suffering stops by obeying God!

In His Word, God spells out the solution for the Rotherhams of the world: Family. Right family. Obedient family. Lawful family. Biblical family. Family that grows and functions the way it was designed—by its Designer—to function. That God-crafted institution is what begets, protects and nurtures children to adulthood.

The reason sin has spread from head to toe in Rotherham is that sin has spread head to toe throughout our entire society—and inside our individual lives. Fixing this depraved city isn’t about sacking a politician or replacing a council or passing a new law. It’s about obeying the laws that already exist—that have always existed: God’s laws.

That doesn’t happen in a news cycle or an election cycle. It happens when Britain’s entire sinful, putrefying society is cauterized, purged and miraculously healed by God.

Tragically, that is not something man is interested in. Man would rather continue to succumb to his own self-inflicted decomposition. And God continues to allow us and our children to sin our way into self-inflicted septic shock.

But God—the Father—will intervene! He will step in and save His children, all His children, from their own lethal decisions. He will use these tragedies to show us how much we need His law and His loving authority! He will heal us, from head to toe.

Jesus Christ will return soon to remove the devil—the real cause of all this evil—and replace him as God of this world. He will correct the injustices and establish a just society based on the perfect law of God (e.g. Micah 4:1-2; Daniel 2:44).

In God’s society, Rotherham will be unthinkable. Authorities will be lawful, loving, just and powerful. Violators will be constrained and eradicated—by overwhelming punishment and firm teaching to repent and change. Families will be whole, strong, and beautiful.

Peace. Safety. Opportunity. Beauty. Joy. Love. For little girls in God’s lawful society, that will be “a usual part of growing up.” Take hope. It’s coming.