Report on child abuse to be handed to Scottish ministers


A REPORT commissioned by the Scottish Government says victims of child abuse should be acknowledged by way of a confidential forum.

It advises that children living in residential care should be given the opportunity to speak out anonymously, which will in turn help to put necessary changes in place.

Time to be Heard was a pilot forum set up to allow former residents on children’s home to recollect their experiences of being in care.

The pilot included confidential hearings with 98 former residents of care provider Quarriers, ranging in age from 38 to 83, covering the period 1935 to 1985.

Sixty-nine per cent of the participants live in Scotland, 18% in England and Wales, while 13% are living outside the UK.

Nearly half had spent ten or more years in Quarriers.

Participants identified issues surrounding lack of affection, belittling and punishment which was not proportionate to the level of behaviour that prompted it.

The uneven nature of care also featured strongly, with some reporting very positive experiences.

Tom Shaw, former chief inspector of education in Northern Ireland, chaired the panel of three independent panelists.

He said: “Participants have been overwhelmingly positive about their experience of Time to be Heard.

“They spoke of the effect on their self-respect, self-confidence and progress towards closure.

“For many, the most important benefit was simply feeling that their experiences have been acknowledged.

“We are grateful to each and every one of the survivors who took part.

“By sharing their experiences with the panel, they have enabled us to identify a dignified, respectful and effective way by which more survivors can recount their experiences.”

In February 2008, Scottish Ministers announced their commitment to a “truth and reconciliation” approach to survivors of alleged care abuse.

The report makes a number of recommendations which will now be put to these ministers for consideration.

The report identifies three underlying themes in the care provided – poor communication, lack of respect and inadequate preparation for leaving care.

Sections on physical assault, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and ‘leaving care’ illustrate these themes through participants’ experiences.

The pilot was restricted to Quarriers on the basis that the organisation still has good contact with former residents.