Following the murder of four-year-old Daniel Pelka, who was beaten and starved by his mother and step-father, we have all had to face a hard truth, women can be the perpetrators of child abuse, and that number is rising.
Daniel was severely mentally and physically tortured at his Coventry home before his death in March 2012. Magdelena Luczak, 27, and Mariusz Krezolek, 34, were recently jailed for 30 years. They blamed each other for killing Daniel, who died from a head injury and was found weighing just over a stone and a half.
In 2008 Baby P, a seventeen-month-old boy, was beaten by his mother (Tracey Connelly), stepfather (Steven Barker) and his mother’s lodger (Jason Owen). Owen also brought his three children and 15-year-old girlfriend to live in Connelly’s four-bedroomed council house.
The toddler was wrapped in layers of clothing until he began sweating and gasping for air. His fingernails were pinched, and possibly ripped by pliers, until they fell off. His cot and bedroom walls were stained with his blood. Peter weighed as little as a child five months younger.
Another case involving a woman committing child abuse was that of Vanessa George. In 2009 the Plymouth nursery school worker, together with Angela Allen from Nottingham and Colin Blanchard from Rochdale, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing scores of babies and young children.
After this came to light police said that the number of women abusing children was rising and becoming more widespread than previously thought. Experts estimated that up to 20% of a conservative estimate of 320,000 suspected UK pedophiles were women.
At the time there were 32,000 names on the sex offenders register but researchers suggested that the real number of pedophiles was 10 times this figure, with provisional studies suggesting that between 5% and 20% were women. The calculations put the number of female child sex offenders in the UK at between 48,000 and 64,000.
Figures from ChildLine showed there was a 132% leap in complaints of female sexual assaults compared with a 27% rise in reports of abuse by men. This meant that abuse by women accounted for nearly a quarter of calls where the offender’s gender was identified.
The charity said it heard from 2,142 children claiming they had been attacked by a woman, with nearly two-thirds saying they had been assaulted by their mothers. Research also shows that boys are stopping being afraid to speak out about being abused.