Working together and moving on : a human rights approach to addressing Historical Abuse

Hawthorn, Moira (2015) Working together and moving on : a human rights approach to addressing Historical Abuse. Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, 14 (3). ISSN 1478-1840

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I never for one moment missed not having my natural parents around. Being in one place for my entire childhood until the age of sixteen gave me everything any child needs to have. I had stability, education, love and security – exactly what any parents [sic] wants for their child - as Miss Martin and her staff made sure that all of the children at Tenterfield never missed out on all these things. (Irvine, 2010, p.201) Thus Margaret Irvine described her childhood in residential care in the 1940s and 50s. Others have reported similar experiences, citing carers who made a difference, who acted as role models and offered opportunities not possible if they had remained at home (Hawthorn, unpublished; Divine, 2013). Likewise, practitioners hold memories of loving and caring for the children and young people in their charge. In the 1980s, however, concerns began to emerge in the UK about what is now referred to as historical institutional child abuse. Although there had periodically been disquiet about the quality of residential childcare over the years (Kendrick and Hawthorn, 2012), such concern became more sustained, escalating during the 1990s. This paper will outline the process in Scotland of using a Human Rights Framework to address the issue.

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