A jaw-dropping report that covers a 16-year period of "collective failures" by local authorities in the Northern England town of Rotherham reveals that 1,400 children have been abused and exploited by "unrelated older men," according to the Associated Press.
Alexis Jay, the author of the report, noted violent acts such as beatings and rapes that children as young as 11 — mostly girls — had experienced over the timespan.
"There were examples of children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone," Jay said at a press conference on August 26. "Girls as young as 11 were raped by large numbers of male perpetrators."
Those older males, the report states, were mostly from Britain's Pakistani population, some of whom preyed on these children and even trafficked them to other towns in northern England.
And while the majority of victims from the older cases were described as "white British children," a growing number of recent cases involved children from Pakistani, Kashmiri and Roma communities, the AP reports.
Jay, a former chief social work adviser to Scotland, was brought in by the local Rotherham government to conduct a formal investigation, after a series of related cases centered on Pakistani "rings" surfaced.
When she dug deeper into the problem, Jay told the BBC that she was shocked by what she found.
The police, she says, "regarded many child victims with contempt" and "effectively suppressed" the report data because officers did not believe the information, the AP reports.
"The collective failures of political and officer leadership were blatant," Jay said at the press conference.
Other factors that Jay says contributed to the negligence was a fear among officials of being perceived as racist as well as the sense that they thought it was a "one-off problem."
"Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist," Jay said. "Others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so."
Roger Stone, a Rotherham council leader, resigned immediately.
British Prime Minister David Cameron issued a statement saying that those who exploited the children be brought to justice.