Dozens of accounts of systematic abuse in Scottish schools, residential homes and hospitals have been published.
The allegations released by the National Confidential Forum include child sex abuse, violence and bullying.
Many of the 59 testimonies describe a “veil of secrecy” within institutions, with victims and witnesses scared to speak out.
The majority of those who described their childhood experiences are now aged in their 50s.
However, some were in care as recently as five years ago, while others were sharing experiences from 80 years ago.
The National Confidential Forum, which was set up by the Scottish government in 2014, said it has passed on 38 allegations of abuse to the police.
The forum said most of the abused children came from troubled backgrounds, with many describing being taken into care after physical and sexual abuse within their own family, often accompanied by parental alcoholism, rejection, or neglect.
Once they were in care, the victims described the “distress, fear and confusion” they felt, with many not knowing how long they would be staying in an institution, why they were there, or whether or not parents wanted to maintain contact.
While not all of the 78 people spoken to by the forum suffered abuse, several described how physical, sexual and emotional abuse happened on a regular basis.
For some, abuse was part of a regime of punishment and control that was at the core of the institution in which they lived.
The forum said it had heard about individual abusers carrying out systematic and hidden abuse, as well as accounts of whole staff teams abusing or colluding with the abuse.
One victim described the institution he was sent to as being like a “systematic torture chamber”, with “systematic abuse a way of life all the time, morning and night”.
Another said: “She’d fill a bath with cold water and throw you in it, with the towel wrapped around your head, which I think is called waterboarding. And then pour buckets of water over your head.”
And a third recalled: “They took me into the night duty room and wanted me to do things. They gave me cigarettes to keep it quiet.”
Among the allegations contained in its report were accounts of routine forms of punishment such as beating, force-feeding or withholding food or sleep – sometimes apparently being delivered for the enjoyment of the abuser.
Bedwetting was also dealt with severely, with children being forced to sit in a cold bath as punishment, beaten by staff with wet towels, having their head wrapped in a towel and held under running water, and in some cases having to parade around naked with their soiled sheets.
Sexual abuse was talked about by several people and often linked to specific members of staff within institutions.
A veil of secrecy was described in which other children were similarly victimised, witnessed or knew what was happening, but did not speak up.
The forum’s report said: “We heard that sometimes the only available love and affection were for the purposes of grooming children for sexual abuse. In abusive institutions, people described accepting affection from an adult making them vulnerable to being sexually abused. Those who rejected affection for fear of the consequences described missing out on any chance of love and nurturing.”
Sense of shame
It also said the child victims were often either too scared to speak out, or the abuse regime represented normality for them, with the children not knowing that adults should not be allowed to behave in abusive ways.
When children did report the abuse, they generally did not remember any action being taken – although at least one person recalled the abuser being removed.
Other responses included the abused child being punished or moved to another institution, which added to the child’s self-blame and sense of shame.
Many people also said that adults’ views and accounts were always believed over children’s, and that this reflected a perception of children in care as “deviant”.
After the children left care, generally between the age of 14 and 16, they were often completely unprepared for adult life, lacking in social skills and with nobody to turn to for help and support.
Homelessness continued to be a risk for many well into adulthood, leading to loss of precious belongings, substance misuse and unemployment.
Years of exposure to violence and hardship also increased the risk of getting involved in crime – with some people giving their testimony to the forum from prison.
The National Confidential Forum was set up to allow people who spent time in institutional care as children to come forward and share their experiences, whatever they were.
All hearings, where people tell of their experiences, are “confidential and non-judgemental and aim to contribute positively toward the health and wellbeing of those who take part”.
Separately, the Scottish government has set up an independent inquiry into the abuse of children in care.
CHILDREN were tortured at Scottish schools, children’s homes and residential units with waterboarding, sleep-deprivation and force-feeding among the practices deployed to torment them, a major study into alleged abuse has claimed.
The report from the National Confidential Forum (NCF), a body set up to anonymously document the experiences of abuse victims, also records testimony alleging the humiliation of children for bed-wetting and others having their hair shaved off to suppress their identity. Costing more than £4 million since it was established in 2014, the forum has faced accusations of being a “talking shop” because it lacked powers to hold abusers to account.
Stephen Naysmith: Confronting a shameful legacy from our recent past
The subsequent Scottish Child Abuse inquiry may have appealed to more victims because it could ultimately lead to prosecutions.
While it was initially thought up to 2000 abuse survivors might give evidence to the NCF, so far only 78 statements have been lodged.
Head of the forum, Dr Rachel Happer, said a culture of silence and intimidation had prevented many of the perpetrators of abuse from facing justice.
She said: “Many of the accounts we have heard have been heart-breaking and akin to extreme treatment that nobody should be on the receiving end of, never mind children and never mind a child who is meant to be cared for and protected. People have used their own words to describe the experiences and some have certainly described what happened to them as torture.”
The oldest record of abuse detailed in the report called ‘What We Have Heard So Far’ took place eight decades ago, and the most recent just five years ago.
The alleged abuse took place in state-run care homes, residential schools and secure units for adolescents.
While a small number of the 78 people who have so far made disclosures to the Forum relayed positive experiences about the care they received, the majority – 59 people – described a range of dehumanising and cruel physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
Many who raised the alarm about abuse as children said they were rarely believed, and more likely to be punished or transferred.
The abuser’s version of events was often accepted as the more credible account.
But the report reveals harrowing details from children who had been rehoused to protect them from abuse or neglect.
One account described how a staff member at a residential care unit would torture them.
It read: “She’d fill a bath with cold water and throw you in it, with the towel wrapped around your head, which I think is called water-boarding…and then pour buckets of water over your head.”
Another described the place they were accommodated as a “systematic torture chamber”.
“[It was]…a systematic abuse…a way of life all the time, morning and night,” they said.
Dr Rachel Happer said some had never before spoken about their experiences,and urged more survivors to come forward.
She said: “For some people, talking to the forum is the first time they have been heard and sharing their experience broke a long-held silence.”
While the NCF exists to record the experiences of people who grew up in care, it is working closely with the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry and urges those who wish to take their evidence further to contact the inquiry or with Police Scotland.
Alan Draper, spokesman for In Care Abuse Survivors Scotland, said the details revealed in the report were no surprise, and reflected the experiences of many of the group’s members.
He said victims deserved to be compensated for the abuse they suffered.
And he added: “This [report] raises questions about how we repair the damage that has been caused to so many people by an uncaring establishment. One of the ways should certainly be some form of monetary acknowledgement of what they went through.”
Stephen Naysmith: Confronting a shameful legacy from our recent past
A spokesman from NSPCC Scotland said: “The accounts of abuse published in this report are extremely shocking and it’s vital that any victims of abuse get justice, no matter how much time has passed since crimes against them were committed. We need to ensure that people who have been abused as children feel confident to come forward, safe in the knowledge that their voices heard and they will receive help and support.”
Meanwhile, the former Old Bailey prosecutor Brian Altman QC has been named as the new lead counsel for the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse taking place in London.
Mr Altman, who has specialised in serious crime and terrorism cases, replaces Ben Emmerson QC, who resigned last September amid disputes over the scale of the investigation.
Annual Report 2014-2015
Annual Report 2015-2016
Reflections of 3 Founding NCF Members
What We Have Heard So Far
SCOTTISH CHILDREN MURDERED IN PAEDO SNUFF FILMS https://spidercatweb.blog/2016/02/21/scottish-children-filmed-in-paedophile-snuff-movies/ http://archive.is/xoVYK
Scottish Paedophilia: Institutions, Children’s Homes, Schools & Paedo Rings https://spidercatweb.blog/2015/11/02/scottish-paedophilia-institutions-care-homes-schools-paedo-rings/ http://archive.is/jNoi8
Child Trafficking Scotland https://spidercatweb.blog/2017/01/03/child-trafficking-scotland/ http://archive.is/ZK40I
LENNOX CASTLE: Disabled children given grotesque drug tests. https://spidercatweb.blog/2016/03/25/lennox-castle-disabled-children-given-grotesque-drug-tests-sco/ http://archive.is/7uUXy
LENNOX CASTLE HOSPITAL https://spidercatweb.blog/2016/08/27/lennox-castle-hospital/ https://archive.is/Zh6FD
Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry https://spidercatweb.blog/2016/02/11/csa-inquiry-scotland/ http://archive.is/vdaCf
LOTS MORE HERE
What is Scotland’s Problem? https://spidercatweb.blog/2016/09/18/what-is-scotlands-problem/ https://archive.is/UVLjdū