We will have to wait for the report of the Serious Case Review to get a clearer picture of what went wrong in the Oxford grooming sex case. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-23079649
I expect that there will be a lot of pundits calling for
better information sharing and more integrated working, but the truth of the
matter, I suspect, is that the cause of the tragedy was that the girls were not
listened to when they should have been listened to.
I think the Children's
Society’s Matthew Reed has it about right. He is quoted by the BBC as
saying that professionals and agencies need to “… change their attitude to
vulnerable, exploited teenage girls, who are being routinely dismissed as
‘troublesome’ or ‘promiscuous’ or as having made life style choices”.
We should all be thinking long and hard about how we can
make it easier and safer for children and young people to report abuse and to
seek help and support. And we should be asking children and young people to
help us in designing services. Current bureaucratic approaches – ‘referrals’
and ‘investigations’ and ‘enquiries’ and ‘assessments’ – probably cut no ice
with vulnerable young people. What they need is people they can trust to
deliver appropriate help.
Some years ago I co-authored a report about ‘information
sharing’. We titled it “I think it’s about trust … “ because that is what one
of our respondents (a teenage girl who had suffered abuse) told us. 
We need to design services that children and young people
trust more. That’s the answer to Oxford.
 Zoe Hilton and Chris Mills ‘I think it’s about
trust’: the views of young people on information sharing. London: Office of the
Children’s Commissioner, September 2006 – to download a pdf, Google ‘I think it’s
about trust’ and follow the link.