Rachel Thain, a specialist abuse lawyer, looks at child sex abuse allegations concerning the Children’s Society
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The Children’s Society, founded in 1881, is a charity that describes itself as brave, ambitious, supportive and trusted. On their website, the Children’s Society states, “we are determined to give every child in this country the greatest possible chance in life”. However, it has recently become clear that the Society’s determination has at times fallen very short of the mark.
As one of Britain’s largest children’s charities, the Children’s Society facilitated the migration of 3,700 children to countries such as Australia. They also ran a number of children’s homes across the UK for a number of years. This is an organisation that has received significant levels of funding while projecting its image as a ray of hope for vulnerable children.
Amid growing scrutiny of its involvement in child migration (following harrowing reports in the press of the awful abuse suffered by migrant children from Britain) the Children’s Society decided to adopt a stance of transparency. This was accompanied by a public apology, which the Society itself describes as “long overdue”. It is admitted that “the charity has at times failed some of the very children it sought to help” and is “deeply sorry” for the abuse suffered by these vulnerable children,
The era of transparency was preceded by a far less open approach to these highly sensitive issues. In fact, over the last 20 years the charity has made what the Sunday Telegraph describes as “a series of secret compensation payments to child sex abuse victims in its care”. It has now been revealed that some of our most vulnerable children turned to the Children’s Society for help, but instead suffered sexual abuse.
Rachel Thain, a specialist abuse lawyer, commented:-
“I have read the apology issued by the Children’s Society. It’s a similar approach to that adopted by other organisations who have in recent times been forced to face public criticism for the abuse of children in their care. The focus on being sorry for past wrongs, lessons being learned and an effort to distance today’s organisation from its shameful past now seems to be the standard response. But why did it have to wait until now, when it seems the Society has been aware of these issues for years? Words and sentiments are likely to mean very little to those who suffered preventable abuse as a child. We can only hope that this is more than a public relations exercise in damage control. What really matters is action and the support offered to those who have been affected.
Have lessons truly been learned and acted upon? We shall have to wait and see”.