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Experiences Shared


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Errol had behavioural problems and was sent to a residential school when he was 11 years old. 

He was sexually abused by an older boy, and although school staff knew about this, they did nothing to protect him.

Errol was mistreated and neglected by his mother, and when he first arrived at the school, it seemed like a ‘sanctuary’ compared to his home life. Some of the children went home at weekends, but he never wanted to. 

However, he soon realised that physical abuse was rife in the school, carried out by staff and pupils. And during his time in the school, Errol was sexually abused by two older boys, one of whom shared a room with him. 

A senior member of staff, Mr James, asked Errol if he had been sexually abused, and when Errol confirmed this, the man replied that this was ‘normal, because of hormones’. Errol also recalls one night in his bedroom when older boys were sexually abusing younger ones, and Mr James burst in, but did nothing. 

Errol now knows that Mr James was convicted of sexually abusing other boys in the school and was given a custodial sentence. He wonders if this is why Mr James did nothing about the sexual abuse being carried out by the older boys.

He also told a social worker what was happening, but again, no action was taken. 

Errol says that being abused has made it hard for him to form relationships and trust people.

He feels that no one in the school bothered to protect anyone and it was worse for him as he had no support from home. 

He believes that there have been improvements in child protection since he was young, but thinks there still need to be more ‘neutral’ people in residential schools for children to talk to. Errol would also like there to be more help for young people when they leave residential schools – he says that when he left, there was no support available for him.

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