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Lessons from history: contextualising historical child sexual abuse and safeguarding

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PHOTO: Left to right: Alice Kendle and David Smellie (Farrer & Co), Lucy Delap (Cambridge), Louise Jackson (Edinburgh), Adrian Bingham (Sheffield), Jane Foster and Maria Strauss (Farrer & Co).

History & Policy has collaborated with independent law firm Farrer & Co to run a ‘Lessons from History’ seminar in London on 25 June 2018 for organisations working with children.

Historians Adrian Bingham (Sheffield), Lucy Delap (Cambridge), and Louise Jackson (Edinburgh) discussed shifting social attitudes towards child sexual abuse since the 1930s – including newspaper coverage of public debates – in order to contextualise and explain developments in law and practice. Presentations were also given by Alice Kendle, Maria Strauss and Jane Foster of Farrer’s Safeguarding Unit, who organised the event. The seminar aimed to assist organisations to understand the history of child sexual abuse and to use that learning to stress-test their current safeguarding policies, procedures and practice.

David Smellie, Head of Farrer & Co’s Safeguarding Unit said: ‘With the ongoing investigations of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, there has never been such an in-depth and sustained focus on our nation’s history of child sexual abuse and the circumstances in which our systems have failed to safeguard children. I have no doubt that the important work of these academics in contextualising past failings will significantly assist organisations to put in place more robust systems today and we were therefore delighted to collaborate for this event.’

Louise Jackson said: ‘The seminar was an invaluable opportunity for historians to work with specialist child protection lawyers to develop understanding of the very different approaches to safeguarding that profoundly link past and present. This collaboration between Farrer & Co and History & Policy demonstrates how historical research and current day practice can and must inform each other.’

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