By Martin Banks - 8th November 2012
Here is where the EU can, for once, have added value
A parliament hearing was told that the recent scandal over former BBC presenter and DJ Jimmy Savile highlights the need for more resources in tackling child abuse.
Speaking on Wednesday, Peter Saunders, of the UK National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), described the scale of the Savile revelations as "scary".
He also said organisations like his own were being "overwhelmed" with calls from people claiming to have been abused when they were children.
British police believe that Savile, who died last year aged 84, could have abused as many as 300 people over a 40-year period.
They have described him as a "predatory sex offender" and are following 400 lines of inquiry.
Saunders, who is NAPAC'S chief executive, was particularly scathing of those who, he said, had been aware of Savile's activities and failed to act.
He said, "It has become clear some knew what was going on and did absolutely nothing.
"I can only think this was because of the sort of connections that Savile had with the Royal Family and top politicians."
The hearing on child abuse in parliament brought together representatives of support groups for those abused as children from across Europe, including the European Federation of People Abused in Childhood (EFPAC).
The event was told there are an estimated one million child abuse victims in the UK alone, with a further one billion globally.
Saunders, himself a 'victim' of abuse when he was a child, told the hearing, "The message we are trying to get across – and this has been highlighted by the Savile case - is that people who are being abused need to speak out.
"I realise this can be difficult and that the consequences can be devastating. Failure to do so may result in offenders like Savile being allowed to continue their abuse for 20, 30 or even 40 years."
His concerns were shared by ECR member Marina Yannakoudakis, who hosted the event, and said, "Child sexual abuse is a sickening crime.
"As a lead negotiator on EU legislation on sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, I learned that the mistreatment of children knows no boundaries."
She added, "Here is where the EU can, for once, have added value – by protecting our children.
"The recent cases in the UK of Savile and the Bryn Estyn home in North Wales have underlined the fact that most children who are abused don't talk about it until they become adults.
"This is why organisations such as NAPAC, which provides support to those who experienced ill-treatment, neglect or sexual abuse in childhood, are so important.
"I hope that by sharing best practice and by creating a network of survivors’ groups across Europe these organisations can provide the support to adults who need it."
Further comment came from Lieve Halsberghe who is secretary of EFPAC and who has represented victims of abuse by the church in Belgium.
She said, "EFPAC would like to thank the British government for the immediate and promised action taken following the outrageous catalogue of child abuse coming to light in the UK."