Protecting The Vulnerable – Physical and Sexual Abuse of Children in Care

In June 2014, a horrifying report emerged from County Galway in Ireland where the bodies of 800 children were discovered in a mass grave located in an old septic tank beside what used to be a home for single mothers and their children.  Conditions in the home were poor, with high infant mortality rates, unsanitary conditions and emaciated children[1].

Unfortunately, the discovery of the bodies of these babies and children and the terrible conditions they were subjected to is far from an isolated case.  Since the 1990s, more and more people have come forward demanding compensation and apologies for the shattered lives they have led due to the abuse they suffered in state-run and church-run care homes.

Examples include:

  • A public inquiry into 16 state and church-run orphanages and care homes in Northern Ireland due to run on until 2015 is investigating cases of physical and sexual abuse as far back as 1922[2].
  • The findings of the Waterhouse Inquiry in 2000, led to the settlement of compensation claims of 140 victims of physical and sexual abuse in care homes in North Wales[3]. In 2012, new allegations led to further investigations. Police have stated that 235 people have come forward with allegations of abuse in the homes.  North Wales Chief Constable, Mark Polin, said: “Offenders quite rightly should have to look over their shoulders for the rest of their lives”[4]. In June 2014, a further six men were charged for historic abuse claims at a care home in Wrexham.
  • The government has ordered local authorities to investigate the incidences involving 21 care homes across England in which it is alleged the late entertainer, Jimmy Savile, abused children in the 1960s, 70s and 80s[5].

In recent times, child care home policies have been drastically reformed and private companies now run 75% of residential care homes for children[6].

In July 2012, the Government released a statement outlining immediate changes to take place to protect vulnerable children in care homes[7]. This followed the conviction of nine men accused of the sex trafficking of young girls in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

The immediate reforms included:

  • Children are, as much as possible, to be placed in homes within their local borough.
  • New procedures put in place so Ofsted can share information about the location of homes with police and other relevant institutions.
  • Obtaining accurate numbers of all the children who are missing from care.

Working groups were also set up to review the set up of care homes, staff training and practices and offering a more ‘therapeutic’ environment to help at risk children overcome their challenges[8].

It has been reported that the victims of the Rochdale abuse ring will sue for compensation after a report stated that state authorities missed many opportunities to protect them[9].

If you have been a victim of past sexual or physical abuse, you can talk to one of our team members in strict confidence.  We understand the courage it takes to come forward and talk openly about these events and therefore we take every step to ensure we handle these types of matters with the utmost sensitivity and compassion.