Monday, June 06, 2005

Making and Breaking Children's Lives

The fact that many children were sent from British institutions to live in Australia and other far-flung parts of the Empire is often referred to as a shameful "secret".

As I argued in a paper I on the history of child abuse that I gave at the Tavistock last year, it was nothing of the sort. It was public policy and widely discussed.

As a follower of Karl Popper I know that I should look for facts that refute my theories rather than ones that confirm them, but I was pleased to see this report in the Guardian the other day:
The files show Whitehall officials as early as 1955 had particular concerns over the St John Bosco Boys' Town in Glenorchy, Tasmania, run by the Salesian Brotherhood. A Home Office inspector who visited the home in 1951 was concerned there were no women involved, and recommended it should not be approved without a matron.
It is a little odd to say "as early as 1955" because the fate of children sent to Canada had been controversial decades before that.

Incidentally, a revised version of my Tavistock Clinic paper is included as a chapter in the book Making and Breaking Children's Lives, which is about to be published by PCCS Books. Full details here.

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