Mar 20 2013
The belief that "children should be seen and not heard" may have led to earlier generations of youngsters being ignored when they claimed they were sexually abused, the most senior judge in England and Wales said.
In a lecture at King's College London, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said so many historic sexual abuse cases are emerging because the country is "catching up with the consequences of the problems ignored or created by earlier generations".
His comments come in the aftermath of revelations surrounding disgraced TV presenter Jimmy Savile, whose catalogue of sexual abuse dates back to the 1950s.
The Lord Chief Justice said: "Let us just go back to those days, and ask ourselves why so many historic sexual abuse cases are now emerging.
"In part, at least, it is because those who were children then were not listened to. Are any of you old enough to remember that "children should be seen and not heard"?
"Of course this was to do with manners, to do with children not showing off, and so on, but maybe, just maybe, this line of thinking encouraged the thought that children were not worth listening to, and not to be believed when they made allegations of sexual molestation which earlier generations refused to countenance as a reality."
The Lord Chief Justice said rules to protect the innocent from wrongful conviction "closed the door" on many children.
He said there were very few cases of child sexual abuse in the 60s, 70s and 80s, firstly because "so few cases were brought" and secondly because when they were brought "so few resulted in convictions".
Lord Judge described how children would have to walk through the same door as the man they were accusing, wait in the same public area.
Children would be called into the witness box in full view of the defendant and defence counsel "put them" in evidence.