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Child protection systems will always be undermined by beliefs that some children matter more than others - Dr Christine Harrison

Dr Christine Harrison, from the University of Warwick’s Centre for Lifelong Learning, is an experienced social worker who has co-ordinated and taught child care and child protection social work for the last 25 years. She carries out research in a number of areas, including images of child abuse.

In response to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s (HMIC) post-inspection review of South Yorkshire Police published today (21 July), which found the force still needs to make “major improvements” to some child protection procedures, she said:

“Men who sexually exploit children and young people are often well organised and audacious offenders who make sure that they target young women and men who are vulnerable, alienated from active adult support and who will not readily be believed.

“Whilst the difficulties of policing child sexual exploitation should not be underestimated, what worries me more than anything from this recent review is that it continues to reveal the negligent attitudes and beliefs held about young people abused through sexual exploitation, epitomised by the review’s conclusion that some police officers were treating children with contempt.

“However strong a child protection system is, it will be undermined by beliefs that some children matter more than others and this will leave children at risk of child sexual exploitation in a perilous, and sometimes life threatening, position.

“It is most unlikely that Rotherham is the only city with high levels of child sexual exploitation, or that South Yorkshire Police Authority is the only force whose current responses are less than adequate.

“As well as focusing on improving systems, equal attention will need to be placed on societal attitudes and values that contribute to the continued sexual victimisation of children and young people.”

Notes to Editors:

Dr Christine Harrison is available for interviews. Contact Lee Page, Communications Manager, Press and Policy Office, The University of Warwick. Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255, Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221. Email:


Lee Page

Communications Manager, University of Warwick

Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255

Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221