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article imageHouse of Horrors: The Lives of the Children Abused at Their Residential School

By Michelle Duffy     Jun 15, 2007 in World
A residential unit in Glasgow, Scotland for vulnerable children has come under the spotlight this week as it is revealed that up to forty members of staff employed as carers at the unit were abusing the children in their care
Glasgow City Council have been carefully scrutinising the school in Ayrshire for the last three years after serious allegations of child abuse between staff employed as carers and the children living there.
The Kerelaw Residential Unit in Stevenson has been labelled the house of horrors and can only defy belief when the allegations against forty members of staff employed at the unit have been for abusing the very children in their care.
These children residing at the house were of the very vulnerable and unstable of their generation. They had suffered severe emotional and social problems which had been in most cases brought on by the distrust of those closet to them in their own homes. These terrible reports of abuse from the sick staff could only deepen wounds for these youngsters of whom many will never recover from the traumas they have encountered at the unit.
The school was closed last year following the allegations of assault and those in the firing line were pulled out pending further investigations. The abuse is said to go back as far as 2004.
Kerelaw was a special school for children with such problems that it was difficult to educate them and keep them under control at ordinary schools. The dormitories were home for 24 of the children where as the open school was for fifty more during the day.
The school is closed. The police have carried out the necessary duty of finding out exactly what went on and who was responsible. The effect these events have had on the children is unmeasurable, yet what is probably more chilling is that the staff, abusing these kids could still be working with children even now.
David Cromley, the local council's director of social work stated that he was concerned that these people were still out there, working with children in other schools. He said,
"The conclusion is that we have failed to listen to complaints from children and failed to take them seriously enough. None of the staff we have dismissed will be working in childcare. It is possible that (some of the others) are still working with children."
Now another investigation takes place and probably a more serious one. Where these people are working is not known. What does need to happen is some awareness put in place about child abuse being carried out by these employees again.
First Minsiter Alex Salmond is leading the case to find the very loophole which has allowed these people to carry on without previous working history checks.
What was even worse in this case was that a great many other members of staff at the school, whilst it was open, said that they were aware of the physical and sexual abuse taking place but were took frightened to speak out about it.
It is not known exactly how many children were abused, yet the names of the fired staff members found guilty of the abuse have been referred to the Scottish Executive under the terms of the Protection of Children (Scotland) Act 2003.
A spokesperson for the council said,
"Following an exhaustive investigation, it is clear there was a long standing failure within Kerelaw itself to provide appropriate care and education to its young people. Within a culture of fear and collusion, it is evident that allegations from young people went unheard. Deficiencies in the external management system that oversaw Kerelaw contributed to this failing. A number of independent individuals and organisations with access to Kerelaw were also in a position to identify abuse but they too failed to do so."
He also said that the councils will be working closer together to make sure this alarming cases do not occur anywhere else in the system for the education of any child, let alone the ones who are the most vulnerable and who need the very best care the state can give...
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