Expert argues that there was a culture of denial during the 1980s over sex abuse claims


Following this week’s news headlines on the suspected cover-up of a Westminster paedophile ring, leading criminologist Dr Elizabeth Yardley argued that there was a culture of denial operating within institutions during the 1980s.

Dr Yardley, Reader in Criminology at Birmingham City University argued that it was "easier to deny than acknowledge that these incidents were going on."

She continued: "The period from the late 1970s was a time in which a culture of individualism developed in British society - I think this exacerbated the covering up of sexual abuse. The Thatcher years were characterised by neoliberal values, which emphasised freedom, self-reliance and a laissez-faire approach to government, in contrast to the social democratic principles of equality and a comprehensive welfare state which in principle looked after people 'from the cradle to the grave'.

"Therefore the sense of collective responsibility for the wellbeing of children was further eroded as people became less inclined to poke their noses into other people's business, both at an individual and official level. As a society, the principle of privacy became more central as we developed an increasing reluctance to intervene in other people's lives. However, the value given to privacy enabled abuse to continue and it is only now that we are beginning to uncover it."

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