BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 7 February 2008, 14:52 GMT
'Truth forum' for abuse victims
Children in silhouette
Ministers said the system had let some children down
Measures to support adults who were abused in children's homes have been set out by the Scottish Government.

Children's Minister Adam Ingram announced the creation of a "truth and reconciliation forum" to give victims a chance to discuss their experiences.

Ministers are also supportive of proposals for a national counselling service for adult survivors.

The measures come after a report on abuse in homes across Scotland, which made its recommendations last year.

The report was commissioned by the previous administration at Holyrood after revelations of abuse at Kerelaw School in Ayrshire.

In 2004, the then first minister Jack McConnell publicly apologised to the victims of children who were abused while in care.

The report by Tom Shaw, the former chief inspector of education in Northern Ireland, called for the creation of a dedicated centre to help victims find counselling services, carry out research into children's residential homes and maintain a database of all past and present children's residential establishments in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has asked the National Archives of Scotland to carry out a review of legislation on public records.

For many survivors an acknowledgement of the abuse they have suffered would be more beneficial than monetary compensation
Shona Robison
Public Health Minister

Mr Ingram said: "The system let these young people down in the most terrible way and it would be inexcusable for us not to confront what happened."

Public Health Minister Shona Robison will oversee the creation of the forum.

She said it would provide a platform for victims "to voice their experiences whilst also giving public acknowledgement to what happened to these children".

"Through close working with survivors and the organisations that represent them, we have come to understand that for many survivors an acknowledgement of the abuse they have suffered would be more beneficial than monetary compensation," she said.

"It is on this basis we have begun to explore the use of a truth and reconciliation model.

"I hope that through that process there will be an opportunity to give survivors a chance to speak about their experiences but also learn lessons to ensure that children in the future are better protected."

Physical abuse

Scotland has more than 220 establishments providing some form of residential care to children.

An independent inquiry is also currently being carried out into abuse at Kerelaw.

About 40 care workers abused youngsters in their care and could still be working with children, according to a report commissioned by Glasgow City Council.

Maltreatment included physical assault, restraint and sex abuse.

Two former teachers were jailed in 2006 for their part in the abuse.

Anything that helps to shine a light through this period of blackness in Scotland's history is to be welcomed
Annabel Goldie
Scottish Conservatives

Annabel Goldie, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: "Everyone views with revulsion the abuse of children, and when its perpetrators are those who have been entrusted with the care of children and in whom those children have placed their fragile trust, it is a particularly vile and odious betrayal.

"So anything that helps to shine a light through this period of blackness in Scotland's history is to be welcomed."

However, she questioned the ability of the forum to help end the culture of silence that could often allow abuse to continue.

Hugh O'Donnell MSP, the Liberal Democrat schools spokesman, called for more details on the proposals.

He said: "I was disappointed that the Scottish Government's statement lacked clarity in relation to the additional funding being provided for the national framework and the truth and reconciliation forum.

Without clarity

"While Liberal Democrats are supportive of the Shaw Report's recommendations, we need to be clear that this government will provide the resources and facilities to ensure that the victims of institutional childhood abuse have a full opportunity to have their voices heard.

"The SNP Government cannot provide this without clarity on the issues of funding and access to records."

Labour's spokeswoman for children, Mary Mulligan, agreed that it was unclear where funding would be found for the national services framework, or to train residential care workings.

"Services for survivors of abuse are critical and they need to be funded effectively," she said. "We hope that the minister will come back to parliament and set out how the government will provide the necessary finance to ensure that services work."

A victim describes her experiences

Call for care home abuse centre
22 Nov 07 |  Scotland
Historic city care home to close
20 Sep 07 |  North East/N Isles
Judges dismiss care home claims
06 Jun 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Care homes residents get 23,000
27 Oct 06 |  North East/N Isles
Care homes compensation hearings
23 Oct 06 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific