Saturday, November 26, 2016

The sexual abuse of boys in football was exposed back in 1997

Years ago I contributed a book chapter arguing that the abuse of children is rarely a new discovery. History shows that it is regularly discovered and then forgotten again.

So I was not too surprised to discover that the scandal of Barry Bennell, and of the sexual abuse of boys in football more generally, was exposed in this Dispatches documentary back in 1997.

Perhaps people are regularly surprised to learn that abuse exists because of the assumption that if only the authorities knew, they would do something about it.

Sadly, that is often not the case.

Take the account of Hamilton Smith, a former director of Crewe Alexandra, in the today's Guardian:
After leaving the club, Smith was still so concerned about the set-up at Crewe he says he spoke about it on several occasions with Gwyneth Dunwoody, then the Crewe MP. 
In April 2001, he says he arranged to meet Tony Pickerin, the FA’s head of education and child protection, at Lilleshall and requested a wide-reaching investigation into the care of children at Gresty Road as well as asking about possible compensation for Bennell’s abuse victims. 
Three months later, having not had a response, he contacted the FA, believing the delay meant a long, complex inquiry must be under way. 
After requesting an update a three-line letter, seen by the Guardian, arrived in the next few days from Pickerin saying the FA had “investigated the issues and is satisfied that there is no case to answer.”
This is why it is important to secure lasting reforms while public attention is being paid to the problem of abuse.

If you don't, it will soon be forgotten again.

1 comment:

Frank Little said...

Crewe Alexandra developed a reputation as a great developer of young players. One grimly wonders now whether this was an impression deliberately fostered by the club in order to attract boys.