This was not something I really thought about as being an enjoyable read, and I was right, but as my future career will bring me into contact with victims such as ‘Girl A’ I gave it a chance. This is really a compelling book once you get past the first paragraph or two. It is written in more of a narrative style, which I guess comes from the fact that she dictated her story to a ghost-writer. Some parts where shocking and others had me feeling angry and frustrated at clear failing by the authorities. This book by far had the biggest emotional effect on me out of all the true crime books that I have read.
It taught me about grooming and what it is really like, as apposed to what you hear about online. I learned a lot about the hold these predators can have without physically controlling them, and how this brain washing works. I did find myself getting angry with her at times and found myself wanting to scream at her when she made, what seemed like stupid decisions. However, I guess this just testifies to the hold that the gang had on her.
The crime itself is shocking and the idea that this can be happening in your, or my, hometown is, well, disturbing to say the least. Can there be any rehabilitation for the perpetrators while inside?
The failings by Greater Manchester Police and especially Rochdale Children’s Services where systematic and shocking. Was this due to them not wanting to open a racial can of worm or was it a prejudice against what they saw as a girl from a ‘poor’ and ‘chaotic’ background? Well I guess we will never know, but they fact the social worker called what was happening a ‘lifestyle choice’ should help realise the answer. In fact, I would go as far as to say, that it seemed the victims social worker had a vendetta against ‘Girl A’. There is no doubt that the abuse that affected dozens of teenagers could have been stopped earlier but in the aftermath of the Baby P scandal social workers were more concerned about cases involving younger children than teenagers. Parents were fobbed off with suggestions that their daughter was simply hanging out with a bad crowd. Yet child sexual exploitation was not an unknown concept to care teams in this area. They first identified girls at risk of grooming in 2007. However, even at the end of 2011 they were still making mistakes in efforts to tackle the problem.
The attitudes of the parents sometimes disgusted me also, I know that they did not know everything that was happening, but the judgmental attitude they held should leave them in shame.
If there is anyone from Rochdale council reading this, then I sincerely hope that you have learnt the lessons needed from this failure. Although I must admit, I am not holding my breath.
Finally if ‘Girl A’ ever happens to read this review, I just want to say that you are a very courageous person and I hope your finally moving on and giving your daughter a better life then you had.
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.