Care system ‘more harmful than abuse’

Most children who have been taken into care after suffering sexual
or physical abuse feel they have been more damaged by the care
system than by the original abuse, an independent provider of
children’s services has claimed.

Mary Walsh, chief executive of SACCS, which provides services for
young children who have suffered sexual, physical, emotional abuse
or neglect, told a conference in Manchester last week that children
passed from one placement to another within a bureaucratic and
cash-strapped system were often left in complete emotional

“Their internal world is in complete chaos,” she said. “There are
3,500 of these children in care in England today. Almost all of
these children say that if they had known what they were letting
themselves in for, they would have rather continued being abused
than come into care. That’s a terrible indictment.”

Walsh called for vulnerable children to be offered earlier
therapeutic intervention and greater opportunity to express their
own needs, and for an end to “placements being disrupted for purely
financial reasons”.

She also called for more research to be carried out on how to
communicate with abused children.

“I believe we are still at a point where we do not know how to help
these children. We don’t have the skills to allow them to tell us
what they need.”

Roger Singleton, chief executive of Barnardo’s, also called for a
more “evidence-based approach” to services for vulnerable children.
He told the conference that, while the range of services was
undoubtedly increasing, not enough was known about how effective
each intervention was.

“Choice is important but it’s not sufficient. We need to up our
understanding of what works and what does not work.”

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