There are many of us -academics, feminists, social workers and others who are not shocked at the exposure of child abuse on a mass scale in this country. Is it too much to ask that we address the problems that men have with issues of sexuality? I have not seen any politician or professional ask the key question – why do men abuse young girls? Let’s at least have an open and honest discussion about it. Like other troubling aspects of largely male behaviour (domestic violence and rape) the problem is filtered through the channel of individual aberration of the normal healthy male adult. But when we see the scale of the problems surely we should be addressing the attitudes and behaviour of a large percentage of male adults in this country. I am old enough to remember the Cleveland abuse scandal. There was absolute outrage throughout the country and fiercely expressed through the media about the suggestion by some professionals that child abuse was taking place within families as well as outside them on a vast scale. Like many of the youngsters that sought help in the recent cases, they were just not believed. Labour have criticised the government for missing an opportunity by not imposing tougher sanctions and making child abuse a separate criminal offence. But I criticise the government and other professionals involved in this area for missing an opportunity to explore the real issue – the abusive and exploitative abhorrent sexuality that is expressed by too many men in our supposed ‘civilised’ society. We know that sexual abusers are not confined to one race, one class but are to be found in all parts of society albeit the types of crimes they commit will vary enormously. The one issue that all must have in common is the dehumanisation of the child they are abusing.