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Sunday, 22 September, 2002, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
'She was invisible to the system'
Children playing
Kids Company cares for children with no adult care
A seven -year-old girl is driven almost to the brink of suicide after being sexually abused by three men for years.

A teenage boy sees his mother shot in a row over drugs.

Neither child can turn to their parents for help.

But unlike many children in similar situations these two are lucky because they are taken in by the Children's Company, a South London group dedicated to helping children cope.

Parenting

In six railway arches, Kids' Company offers psychological counselling, social and health care and life skills to children whose parents are unable to parent them.

The children are encouraged to attend school, have their dental and optical tests and carers ensure they have somewhere safe and warm to sleep.

Trained psycho-therapist Camilla Batmanghelidjh explained how counselling one little girl had prompted her to set up the safe refuge.

"I got a call from the education authorities saying that there was a seven-year-old trying to put a reading folder over her neck and wrap a towel round it and waiting to suffocate.


She was an invisible child in the system

Camilla Batmanghelidjh

"She had also tried to throw herself in front of cars and they had found her on top of a building and they were afraid she would succeed.

"She was an invisible child in the system."

During counselling the little girl said she had been sexually abused since the age of five, but had no one to tell.

Hearing her sad tale Mrs Batmanghelidjh decided to set up the Kids' Company, which as well as the refuge, also sends musicians, artists and therapists into schools to work with children.

Care

She explained that without the help of places like Kids' Company the children will not be able to function properly in society.

She said the emotional trials they have had to cope with have left them numb.

"In the long term you lose your entire emotional repertoire."

She and her staff can spend months caring for a particular child before they get a response, but she said the most important things is that the carers keep their temper and continue to radiate love to the child and wait for a response.

Children like the seven-year-old sex abuse girl will always bear the scars of their experience, but Ms Batmanghelidjh said she is now learning to cope and recover.

This story is featured in the radio programme Health Matters on the BBC World Service.

Click here for listening times

See also:

16 Apr 02 | Education
09 Jul 02 | Education
09 Jul 02 | Education
16 Apr 02 | UK
09 Jul 01 | Education
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