We must break the silence of abuse

24th March 2000 at 00:00
WELL done to The TES for the excellent article on child abuse (Friday magazine, March 10), and especially for publishing Andrew Thompson's case study. It is the saddest thing I have ever read.

Like this teacher, I have spent the weekend worrying about the child, haunted by the images so delicately described. Generally we hear about such cases "after the event", but the awareness of what could be happening at this very moment draws us all into the horror of everyday life for this little boy, and of all those similarly intimidated into silence by those who abuse or neglect them. It implicates us all in the process that fails to prevent the violation.

We owe this teacher a debt of gratitude fo bringing this case to our attention, and for caring so much. No longer can we plead ignorance or assume that our statutory authorities have the necessary power to intervene even when the evidence is overwhelming.

Intimidation goes hand in hand with systematic abuse. The worst excesses of violence against children within the home will never come to light until the burden of disclosure is removed from the child. We also need legislation that recognises "intimidation into silence" in cases of child abuse as a serious crime, discrete from the other offences.

I hope your coverage of this issue will prompt much action.

Carol O'Neal

41 Wilbury Crescent

Hove, East Sussex

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