News on stage: A live performance of my story

I was really pleased to take part in a slightly unusual event this week, Up and Coming Stories, a live journalism production held virtually by City University.

The event was organised in conjunction with News on Stage, a joint project between City’s journalism department and Nottingham Trent University, which is investigating the power of journalism, theatre and the public sphere.

I was initially unsure what reporting would look like in a dramatic setting, but as soon as I joined rehearsals it became clear that those involved had put together something really special.

It also gave me the chance to work again with Pablo Iglesias, who recently graduated from City and whose award-winning final project featured a video interview detailing some of my experiences with childhood sexual abuse.

Pablo and I were reunited to recreate this interview over Zoom, before the audience were invited ask questions about my story and the process of sharing it with a reporter.

Below is a copy of that recreated interview, the video element of which begins after a short audio introduction (around 50 seconds in).

Required to Report: Why we need Mandatory Reporting

It’s great to have been part of budding journalist Megan Hinton’s new radio documentary ‘Required to Report’, which explores the subject of Mandatory Reporting.

Mandatory Reporting calls for the introduction of new laws that many survivors of childhood sexual abuse, including myself, could have benefited from.

When Megan was 14, she was tricked into sending a naked selfie to, what she believed at the time was, a boy in the year above her.

To her horror, she found out that this was in fact a girl in her own year group, who shared the picture with other pupils.

Megan had already left a previous school over bullying and found history repeating itself, with pupils making her life a living hell, yet teachers at her school failed to take her complaints about their behaviour seriously.

Since that time, Megan has campaigned to raise awareness around a number of issues that have affected her and other vulnerable youngsters, including ‘sexting’.

When she asked me to take part in her latest project, a documentary on the debate around Mandatory Reporting in the UK, I was happy to get involved.

Mandatory Reporting laws would make it compulsory for staff who work in ‘regulated activities’ – including teachers, healthcare professionals and other responsible adults – to report known or suspected abuse of children to the local authority.

Most people, including myself until relatively recently, assume that these kinds of laws already exist, but the crucial decision over whether to report sexual and physical abuse, or neglect, is left down to the individual.

Despite the courage of some whistle-blowers who have come forward over the years, subsequent failures in institutional settings have made it apparent that, when left to the individual, failures happen all too often.

Mandatory Reporting would put in place a structured process for reporting suspicions or knowledge of abuse taking place, so that the decision is taken out of the hands of members of staff.

More importantly, it offers them legal protection from any potential ramifications of passing on what they know.