THE NEWSDESK: Give victims a voice and protect our kids
7:10am Monday 14th January 2013 in News
JIMMY SAVILE was a predator who carried out a 54-year campaign of sexual abuse, says the joint NSPCC and Metropolitan Police 'Giving Victims A Voice' report into his vile behaviour.
The report published last week details 34 rapes or serious sexual assaults, 126 other indecent acts, and 450 victims over 28 police force areas.
The first abuse reported was in 1955. The last in 2009 when Savile was 82. The police also received a report of abuse at the filming of the last ever Top Of The Pops in 2006.
And these are the reports of his actions which have been reported to police. Who knows if this is the tip of an even bigger iceberg.
So, of course, we all ask this question: How could one person get away with this for so long, have so many victims and still be at the heart of the entertainment establishment?
The man who was in the 1970s regarded as a national treasure is now, rightly, a national pariah.
There is one, simple answer to that question, though for many who were there at the time it is an uncomfortable one.
Dozens and dozens and dozens of people ignored the obvious warning signs about his behaviour. And until the past ten to 20 years, a national blind eye was turned when middle aged and older men abused the power of their positions to prey on young girls and boys, particularly those whom society had already deemed 'troubled'.
The report says: "It is now clear that Savile was hiding in plain sight and using his celebrity status and fundraising activity to gain uncontrolled access to vulnerable people across six decades. For a variety of reasons the vast majority of his victims did not feel they could speak out and it's apparent that some of the small number who did had their accounts dismissed by those in authority including parents and carers."
One senior police figure said after the report was published that Savile had "groomed the nation".
It's an apt soundbite. Until recently, there seemed little national appetite for admitting the depth of what was actually going on and the damage it was doing.
This report at least gives victims - and they were named as such in it, not complainants, because of the sheer weight of evidence against this man - the chance to be believed.
And it shows just how much our national culture has changed when it comes to facing up to sexual predators.
So to those who ask why the police have spent £450,000 on Operation Yewtree even though Savile is dead and cannot be prosecuted, I will point out two paragraphs in the report which for me sum up why this simply had to be done.
"A significant number of suspects other than Savile have been identified to police during this investigation, probably as a result of the media coverage of Operation Yewtree and - it is hoped - increased public confidence in the safeguarding authorities that victims will be listened to and when possible action will be taken.
"We recognise that there may be people who read this report who have been victims of sexual abuse but have chosen to remain silent, possibly for many years. We are therefore taking this opportunity again to publicise the NSPCC helpline which offers advice, support and guidance - 0808 800 5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org."
And to those who still refuse to admit what went on - read this report for yourselves.
There has also been another sea-change in our culture. As a 1970s child, I would not have had a clue that sexual abuse existed, and those children who did would have been, unfortunately, victims of it.
And that meant any people who were victims were much more likely to feel they were alone in their suffering, or that it was normal, and also meant abusers could get away with their crimes much more easily than now.
I know children today are far less innocent because there is an open discussion in our society about cases such as Savile's, and parents and teachers have to discuss the subject with them. We have smashed that taboo.
Many will, understandably, mourn our children's loss of innocence. But if it prevents people like Savile in the future, it's a price we simply have to pay.
We must not let any predator groom this nation again.