Abuse ‘endemic’ in children’s homes inquiry finds

 An independent inquiry has found physical and sexual abuse was endemic in children’s homes and residential care homes.

As part of The Truth Project, The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse spoke to 200 victims and survivors who shared details of the abuse they suffered in establishments such as children’s homes and accommodation for care leavers under 18.

Nearly half of victims said that they were sexually abused by a residential care worker and describe abuse taking place in communal areas such as bathrooms and shower rooms, with rooms seemingly dedicated to the sexual abuse of children. A further 50 percent of victims said they knew of someone else being abused in the same institution.

One participant said:

‘Downstairs they had a room with nothing in there, just an empty room, with no windows.

‘And they stripped me naked and threw me in there. I was there for three days, and they’d come in, they’d abuse me, they’d throw water over me.’

Another participant said:

‘You don’t know whether to bite the pillow, eat the pillow or just scream.

‘If you scream, no-one’s going to come anyway.’

Nearly 40 percent of survivors reported physical abuse including being punched, hit with objects and forced to fight each other, even to the point of being hospitalised.  While one fifth described bullying, where they were called names, shouted at and threatened.

Almost one in five survivors did not report the abuse at the time due to fear of retribution (19 percent), or concerns they would get into trouble (14 percent).

Dr Verena Brähler, head of research at the Inquiry, said that abuse was ’embedded’ within the institution. She said:

‘In this report, ‘unsafe’, ‘cruel’ and ‘violent’ are the words used by victims and survivors to describe their experience of living in children’s homes and residential care.

‘Participants’ accounts were examined to provide a more in-depth insight into abuse in these settings, with many reporting that physical and sexual abuse were embedded and accepted within the institution.

‘It’s clear that concerns about retribution were a significant obstacle to children disclosing abuse, as was a fear of not being believed.’

Survivors of child sexual abuse who would like to share their experiences and put forward recommendations for change can get in touch with the Inquiry’s Truth Project. Click here for more information.

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