Senior Social Worker Speaks Exclusively to TheIrishObserver.blogspot.com
Today The Irish Observer.blogspot.com has been given the opportunity to speak exclusively with a now recently retired Senior Social Worker who says that she could not speak out while employed by the HSE and could still face prosecution due to the confidentiality clause in her contract of employment. However, she feels so strongly about certain issues that she has decided to speak with The Irish Observer where her anonymity will be protected.
Q. How long where you a Social Worker?
A. For over twenty years.
Q. And is it the case that you have retired in the normal course of events?
A. Yes, I was due to retire earlier but worked on due to the shortages in staff.
Q. Where in Ireland did you work while you were a Social Worker?
A. I worked in three area Health Boards, this was due mainly to my various promotions and I went to those areas where expertise was absent due to retirements or simply lack of staff.
Q. Your main reason for contacting me by email was the fact that I had written a number of articles on sexual crime in Ireland, is that correct?
A. Yes, I stumbled across your Blog when I was researching a paper on sexual crime, and I would have to say that your Blogs appeared to be saying exactly what my experience had told me. Although I would have to say I was surprised that you had such an insight into how the HSE and criminal justice system work.
Q. Well I am sure you are well aware that my journey through life has not been a smooth one?
A. Yes, I am well aware of your past, I have read your Blogs
Q. Has Child Protection changed for the better in your twenty years as a Social Worker?
A. The simple answer is No. Social workers and other professionals continue to have far too much power when it comes to dealing with Child Protection issues.
Q. Can you expand on that idea of professionals having too much power?
A. The reality is that there is no mandatory reporting of child abuse including child rape in this country that means that a child reporting rape to a teacher, a GP, even a Social Worker cannot be certain that the information provided will be passed onto the Gardai. This means that effectively people like myself can decide what cases we report and what cases we keep quiet. You can imagine how this works in small towns and villages.
Q. Are you saying that a GP has no legal obligation to report the rape of a child to the Gardai?
A. Absolutely not and I have witnessed many cases where such reports to GPs and other professionals have been hidden for many years and only come to light when a rape victim becomes an adult and pursues a criminal prosecution themselves.
Q. In such cases are we talking about children sexually abused by family members?
A. That would make up a great deal of such cases but not exclusively. You have to remember that in rural areas, small towns and villages a GP’s income can be heavily dependent on a small number of extended families, for a GP to report the rape of a child to the Gardai it could cost him/her their lively hood in that area.
Q. Are you saying that economic considerations are taken into account in matters of Child Protection?
A. Well that’s nothing new, as you have often said yourself the Government could find millions to spend on top hotels and other luxuries yet they could not find the small amount of money needed to ensure the protection of children in their own care.
Q. How wide spread a problem is child abuse in Ireland?
A. People try to suggest that there are varying degrees of child abuse, however, in my experience those who physically abuse children will also have the propensity to sexually abuse children, and the important thing for an abuser is the objectification of the victim. The abuser views the child as being their property and therefore they can do what they like to that child without facing any real prospect of punishment. There will be exceptions to every rule but my experience suggests that all abuse should be treated with equal seriousness. Each of the fourteen area Health Boards confirm approximately one-thousand cases of child abuse each year, that is approximately fourteen-thousand confirmed cases of child abuse in Ireland each year, the degrees of abuse will vary from excessive beatings, serious neglect to multiple rapes.
Q. How much goes undetected?
A. That is impossible to answer, however, I think we only touch the tip of the ice-berg, children are easily silenced and when those who facilitate or conceal such crime don’t face any punishment, this leaves perpetrators of abuse with a free hand.
Q. But surely many cases are prosecuted through the courts?
A. Less than four per cent of confirmed cases of child sexual abuse are ever prosecuted, there are thousands of files within the Health Boards where men and women in equal number have admitted to sexually abusing children and none of those files have ever been passed onto the Gardai. I have seen cases where people who have admitted raping several children were simply sent by Social Workers to the Granda Institute for counselling, those abused children remained in the family home. The HSE is legally bound and cannot release this confidential information to anyone, even if that person is working with children, if the person is not prosecuted then their name does not show up when employers are vetting potential employees.
Q. Why do you think the Government have failed to introduce Mandatory reporting of child rape?
A. I honestly believe that child abuse is too close to home for many, I was often lobbied by County Councillors and TDs not to send certain files forward to the Gardai, Politicians had a great deal of influence when they were on the Health Board Committees and indeed they still have power and influence.
Q. Are you saying that Politicians would lobby Health Board staff in order to stop prosecutions?
A. What I am saying is that in certain cases where politicians were contacted by perpetrators or the family of perpetrators and asked to contact the Health Board with a view to stopping matters going forward to the Gardai those politicians contacted us and in most cases those cases did not go forward to the Gardai.
Q. What is your view on the scandal now hitting the Catholic Church about the rape and sexual molestation of children by members of its religious orders?
A. Firstly, I think that it is important to point out that the Catholic Church did not conceal these crimes on their own, there are many files relating to members of religious orders gathering dust in Health Board offices, many of these reported cases were never investigated due to the power of the Church and their friends in high places. I did not need the Ferns, Murphy or Ryan Reports to tell me that there had been a massive cover up. However, what I would say is that any case that I handed over to the Gardai was fully and comprehensively investigated and prosecutions followed from many of those investigations in the three Health Board areas where I worked, however, I did not have control over all cases and many were buried upon instruction.
Q. Do you believe that we have got the full story about what happened within the Catholic Church?
A. Absolutely not, the cover ups are continuing, thousands of religious were simply moved from pillar to post to cover up their crimes, few if any prosecutions will follow from the three reports that I have mentioned and that means that thousands of known child rapists continue to live in communities all over this country and further a field and nobody is aware of their crimes, indeed, even the Gardai have no legal right to monitor the activities of these individuals setting aside the fact that the task is beyond the budget of any police service.
Q. That brings me on to another question, setting aside those who have not been prosecuted, are those who have been prosecuted for sexual crimes against children being monitored in accordance with best practice in child protection?
A. No, is the simply answer, the Gardai are doing their best with the legislation and resource available to them, however, the reality is that persons convicted of sexual offending have no access to rehabilitative care while in prison, they are simply warehoused and then thrown out onto the street with no follow up services available. Some have post release supervision orders but these are simply a waste of time as we don’t have the staff to follow through. The obligation for a convicted person to notify the Gardai of their address within seven days of their release from prison is useless as it is legal to give no fixed abode as their legal address. All of the International standards set down by countries such as Canada are completely ignored in Ireland. What we need is a seamless transition for such offenders where they are firstly given access to rehabilitative opportunity in prison such as the specific programme that was run in Arbour Hill Prison, upon release they need to be safely housed and given job or training opportunities. International best practice suggests that those who have committed sexual crimes can be best monitored while in full time work/training or education and are appropriately housed.
Q. Do you believe that Mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse would reduce child sexual crime in Ireland?
A. It would have an immediate effect; unlike the 2001 Sex Offenders Act which since its introduction sexual crimes right across the board has went sky high, ill-considered legislation simply facilitates sexual crime. If people who are concealing and facilitating sexual crime from the Gardai know they will face prosecution if they do not come forward then the sea in which perpetrators swim will soon dry up. Fathers/Mothers, Uncles/Aunts, Grannies/Granddads, Bishops/Cardinals, Politicians/Social Workers the list is endless will soon step forward if they know that they will face public prosecution if they do not report the sexual abuse of children.
Q. What I found interesting about our initial conversation was that you said that unlicensed Mind Altering drugs are continuing to be feed to children in this country is that correct?
A. Yes, Mind Altering drugs that are not licensed in this country for children such as Seroxat are still being prescribed for children yet they have been banned for child consumption in all other European Countries. This is particularly dangerous when dealing with children who are claiming abuse.
Q. Are you saying that children who are making allegations of abuse are being given Mind Altering drugs that are not licensed in this country?
A. Yes, this can have a very dangerous out come in such cases and those prescribing the drugs know very well the effects of such unlicensed drugs. For example, if a child makes and allegation of sexual abuse against a parent or relative and the family would rather that these allegations were concealed it is very easy to get a GP to proscribe something like Seroxat for the child in question. Seroxat should not be used on children as it has mind and mood altering effects, the result is that the child becomes abusive and disruptive and the focus moves from the alleged perpetrator to what is now an abusive and disruptive child. Equally and I have seen all of this happen, Seroxat coupled with discredited practice such a regression therapy can take a child from making allegations of physical abuse to allegations of sexual abuse, rape and even satanic ritual. I have watched in horror as judges have handed down heavy sentences to people as the judge said the child had tried to take their own life as a result of the alleged abuse, yet I knew and so did those involved in the cases, that these children had not tried to take their own life until they had been feed Seroxat or some other Mind Altering drug.
Q. Are you then suggesting that some allegations of sexual abuse may have arisen from the misuse of unlicensed Mind Altering drugs and such discredited practice as regression therapy?
A. I am saying that very clearly, I have seen it happen and I have been supported in my views by Forensic Psychologists and other professionals, however, in the present environment of moral panic and knee jerk political reaction where social policy is dictated by Tabloid headlines I doubt that any serious discussion of these matters will be had for some time to come.
Q. Are you saying that people may have been convicted before the courts on false evidence, evidence that may well be true in the mind of the alleged victim but was invented through the misuse of unlicensed mind altering drugs and discredit practices such as regression therapy?
A. In my view, any case that has involved the use of unlicensed Mind Altering drugs such as Seroxat should never have went to court, and if such cases have went to court and a conviction was secured then those cases should be over turned with immediate effect. I am an advocate for international standards of best practice in child protection, I am not an advocate for miscarriages of justice and in my view there have been many of them. The vast majority of those accused of child sexual molestation normally admit their crimes, however, there is an over whelming burden on juries in this country to believe the ‘victim’, why would he/she say such a thing about a relative, however, if the jury knew what some of these children are being subjected to I think the verdicts could be different in some cases. I think that Barristers, Judges, the Gardai and others need to be aware that unlicensed Mind Altering Drugs and discredited practices are being used behind the scenes. This evidence is never produced in Court and even if it were the Courts would have no idea what they were dealing with. I have seen children so indoctrinated that they have been able to reproduce their original statements to the Gardai with 100% word accuracy to the Court, even though the original statement may have been made years earlier.
Q. But surely no professional is going to allow what could be false evidence to go before the court if it means an innocent person going to jail?
A. It all depends on the case, some professionals like the headlines as much as everyone else, if there is a drive against a particular individual then all the stops will be pulled out to secure a conviction, I have seen it done, but I had no control over the said cases.
Q. I am absolutely amazed that unlicensed Mind Altering drugs are being used in such cases, can anything be done?
A. I think the pharmaceutical companies are very powerful and they have to sell their drugs, the Irish Medicines Board are too reliant on third party research that can often be traced back to the pharmaceuticals, GPs have far too much autonomy, and newly qualified psychologists are simply learning their trade as they go along, psychology is not a science yet certain discredited practices coupled with the use of unlicensed Mind Altering drugs can have a deep mental, psychological, emotional and medical impact on an individual and in particular a child. I don’t think any Government will have the political will to face up to what is a momentous task.
Q. Finally, what would your advice be to the Government in relation to cases of alleged childhood abuse where Seroxat or any other Mind Altering drug was administered to the alleged victim?
A. All convictions based on the evidence of any child or children who were given Seroxat or any other Mind Altering drug should be immediately quashed, there should be an immediate end to the use of unlicensed Mind Altering drugs such as Seroxat for any child in any circumstances but particularly in cases where allegations of abuse are being made. It is a crazy situation where an unlicensed Mind Altering drug can be administered to children by GPs and others, not all Doctors are good Doctors. Such discredited techniques as regression therapy should be banned in all cases relating to allegations of childhood abuse. We need a system of checks and balances in which GPs and others are regularly checked to ensure that they are meeting with best practice when it comes to child protection in particular. We cannot continue with the bizarre situation where some GPs are operating surgeries out of their front sitting room without any regular checks or balances in place by the HSE.
Thank you for this insightful interview, I can only hope that it will be used to help bring about best practice in Child Protection in Ireland.
When contacted about the allegations in this interview, The Irish Medicines Board referred me to the following statement on their web site in relation to the use of the unlicensed Mind Altering drug Seroxat:
SEROXAT (PAROXETINE) CONTRAINDICATED FOR CHILDREN
The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) confirmed that the findings of recent Seroxat clinical studies undertaken by the manufacturers GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) found that it was not effective in children and adolescents with major depressive disorder and showed an increased rate of self-harm and potentially suicidal behaviour in children and adolescents treated in the studies. As a result of this new information the IMB considers that Seroxat should not be used to treat children and teenagers under the age of 18 years. The IMB has ensured healthcare professionals have been advised of this latest information and have amended the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) and product licence to contraindicate use of Seroxat in patients under 18 years of age with major depressive disorder.
The IMB re-emphasises to healthcare professionals that Seroxat is not and has not been licensed for use in children or adolescents in Ireland. However, doctors have the authority to prescribe any product for a patient under their care if it is deemed appropriate. The IMB wants to stress the importance for doctors, patients and parents to be aware of this new advice and for patients under 18 years who may be taking Seroxat to consult their doctor for advice. It is essential that patients taking Seroxat do not suddenly discontinue use of their treatment, because of the risk of withdrawal effects. Any changes must take place under medical supervision.
 O’Mahony, P. (2001) points to Mathiesen, T. (1990) Prisons on Trial, London: Sage, p.169; for a credible attempt at the extreme challenge of arguing that rapists should not be imprisoned , see Finstad, L. (1990) ‘Sexual Offenders Out of Prison: Principles for a Realistic Utopia’, in International Journal of the Sociology of Law, 20, 2, pp. 152-78.
 In October, 2002, The Home Affairs Select Committee at Westminster published a report on the dangers inherent in child sexual abuse investigations. Lord Woolf, Britain’s then Chief Legal Advisor publicly conceded that there could be as many as one hundred miscarriages of justice in this area.
 Bandon, S., Boakes, J., Glaser, D. and Green, R. (1998), ‘Recovered Memory of Child Sexual Abuse: Implications for Clinical Practice’, British Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 172, pp.296-307.
 These figures were cited by Ms Rhonda Turner, principle psychologist at St Louise’s Unit, Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, at the third National Prosecutors Conference in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Ms Turner went on to explain that only 4% of confirmed cases of child sexual abuse were prosecuted and the proportion of cases resulting in conviction was even lower.
Hundreds of urgent child protection reports are not being assessed or followed up, leaving vulnerable young people in situations where they are at risk of ongoing neglect or abuse, internal social work files show.
In interviews with The Irish Times, social work teams in several parts of the State say they are being forced to ignore potentially serious reports of suspected abuse or neglect due to heavy workloads and under-staffing.
Staff in social services say they are fearful that mistakes are being made and that some at-risk children may die as a result of the failure to intervene with vulnerable young people.
“I feel it’s only a matter of time before there is a major scandal, such as a child being exposed to horrific abuse or neglect due to our inability to respond. Many of us fear that when something goes wrong, we’ll be left out on our own,” one social worker said.
Among the kinds of urgent cases outlined in social work files which are not receiving a social work response include:
A 10-year-old who is self-harming and expressing suicidal thoughts. This child is also very aggressive towards other children and the mother appears unable to cope.
A young teenager who is being neglected and has been found in the company of older men, with concerns she may be sexually abused.
A boy with apparent mental health problems whose behaviour is eccentric and whose mother is not responding to appointments with psychological or mental health services. His school has expressed serious concerns about him.
A 13-year-old girl who has not been to school for a number of years and whose mother is neglecting her and is unable to cope;
Four young children living in a house with very poor hygiene; they are believed to be neglected by their mother, who is unable to cope;
A teenager who has tried to kill himself and is at high risk because he has lost close friends to suicide in recent months;
A young boy who has been admitted to hospital on a number of occasions with head injuries which are likely to be linked to his aggressive mother. Other children in this family have been taken into care.
Social workers in several areas say they are under unprecedented strain. They say the number of cases being referred to social services has increased significantly over the past year, possibly due to high-profile child abuse cases in Roscommon and elsewhere. Latest figures show there are a record 6,128 children in the care system.
Many social work staff say they have continually voiced concerns to management over gaps in child protection services, but claim there has been little meaningful change on the ground.
In particular, they say they are only able to respond quickly to the most urgent “emergency” cases. As a result, less serious concerns are placed on waiting lists and often only receive a social work response months later or if they escalate into a more serious issue.
“Hundreds of these cases are not getting a response,” said one social worker, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They are being added to growing waiting lists. No additional resources are being made available to deal with these backlogs. As a result, these children remain at risk.”
In a statement, the HSE said it was aware of gaps in services but pointed out that it has embarked on a three-year “change programme” to improve child and family services.
In addition, officials say significant additional resources are being targeted at the area. Two hundred social workers were recruited in 2010, in addition to the back-filling of 249 social work posts during the year. A further 60 social workers are currently being recruited.
“Given the scale of this programme of work and impact on existing services the transformation of child and family services will take considerable time, effort, perseverance and collaboration,” the HSE said in a statement.
However, several social workers say that despite new recruitment there is an unofficial embargo on hiring staff in place. Several sources say the hiring of staff to replace those on maternity leave or leaving the services have been blocked by the HSE’s human resources department in recent weeks.
Sexual Crime in Ireland
Sexual crimes cover a wide range of behaviour and events. These crimes are compounded by the intense emotions involved in sexual behaviour, the distortion that can be caused to an individual’s sexual identity by sexual crimes being perpetrated upon them, by the dominant sexual culture and by moral and religious dimensions (O’Mahony.1996). Particularly in the past two decades with the advent of the proliferation of media and in particular new technologies, we are more acutely aware of the many cases of sexual crime coming before the Courts and perhaps in greater number, persons claiming to have been raped and sexually abused when they were children being held in institutions of ‘care’ that were run by the Catholic Church and under the ‘supervision’ of the Irish State, have alerted us to the cruel hurt and pain that can be inflicted on such persons. West (1983) suggests that most children outgrow the negative effects of such abuse, however, those victims giving testimony to the Redress Board that was established to give financial compensation to those victims of Religious child rapists would contradict this contention.
Sexual crime in the Irish Republic is not something that has simply appeared from nowhere in the 21st Century, indeed, from the very foundation of the Irish Free State sexual crime and in particular against children was common place. Such was the scale of sexual crime against children that the Irish Government of 1930 was pushed to establish an inquiry to examine the extent of sexual crime in the newly liberated territory. The Carrigan Report  was chaired by Mr William Carrigan a retired Senior Council, the evidence presented to Carrigan left the committee in no doubt that child sexual abuse was systematic and wide spread. Carrigan concluded that:
There was an alarming amount of sexual crime increasing yearly, a feature of which was the large number of cases of criminal interference with girls and children from 16 years downwards, including many cases of children less than 10 years.
This observation was supported by the Police Commissioner of the Day, Eoin Duffy, who said that less than 25% of cases were being reported and then less than 15% of these cases were being prosecuted due to a host of reasons. Duffy said that from his own knowledge the number of children under 13 years of age being sexually abused was “Alarming”. It is worth noting at this point that in 2010 little has changed, at Ballyshannon Circuit Court, in County Donegal on the 18th of June 2010, a Garda told the court that a now twenty-year-old women had been raped 57 times by 22 adult men when she was 13 years old, some of those men have been successfully prosecuted. Following the publication of the Cloyne Report (13th July 2011) into child rape at the hands of the Catholic Church the Garda Commissioner had the following to say about the role of the Church and State:
The Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, has said the publication of the Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Cloyne "details another difficult and sorry chapter" into the Church's and State response to child sexual abuse.
The Commissioner said: "This report details another difficult and sorry chapter in the story of how both Church and State authorities in Ireland responded to the sexual abuse of young people in our community. It outlines omissions and failures in the way in which complaints and allegations were addressed.
"The Commission did state that it was very concerned about the approach adopted by the gardaí when dealing with complaints in three cases outlined in the report.”
The Garda Commissioner apologised to the victims at the heart of those cases.
Mr Callinan said: "It is a matter of regret to me that people did not receive the appropriate attention and action from the Garda Síochána to which they were entitled. The policies and structures now in place are very much victim-focused and designed to ensure that no one has a similar experience today.”
Emphasising again the importance of individuals reporting sexual crime to gardaí, the Garda Commissioner said: "I want to assure the community that we have invested much time, energy and resources into ensuring that both our policies and people are effective in this sensitive and challenging area. Anyone making a complaint to gardaí will be met with sensitivity and with professionalism.”
The Commissioner has asked Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne to examine the report to see whether, in addition to action already taken, any further action can be taken against the abusers referred to in it.
It is clear from Carrigan and other sources that many police officers wanted to do what they could to prevent sexual crime and bring those responsible to justice; however, they faced many hurdles in their task including the power of the Catholic Church in communities all over Ireland. The findings of the Carrigan Report would not at that time be made public due to pressure from the Catholic Hierarchy and the acquiescent Government of the day. While De Valera made speeches about the, “Laughter of happy maidens”, children were being raped to such an extent in his own constituency that a Judge described the Assizes in De Valera’s own constituency as the “Dirty Assizes” due to the large number of child sex crimes appearing before it.
Francis Hackett who settled in Ireland in the 1920s and was a juror from 1929-37 described sitting through court proceedings that dealt in one sitting with, 20 counts of buggery, a girl who threw her new born baby from a moving train, an elderly man who sexually abused two young girls, and a young man who raped a girl who was under the age of sixteen. However, all of this information was to be confined within its own parochial parameters, the Carrigan Report would not be published as the Catholic Church did not want the inevitable bad publicity that would follow. The Catholic Church had never signed up to the democratic program and felt that they had a God sent right to do as they pleased. The Carrigan suppression is a clear indication as to how the relationship between the Catholic Church and the State worked.
However, we now know that the Catholic Church had much more to hide than the base immorality of Ireland’s newly liberated streets. Within the new order of the Irish Free State the Catholic Church had taken control of the Education system and the much hated ‘Industrial Schools’ and the Government remained as silent partners. We now know from the Ferns, Murphy and Ryan Reports into child sex abuse that the Catholic Church not only allowed but facilitated those Homophiles, Hetrophiles and Paedophiles within its ranks that raped and tortured the children in their ‘care’. This was not passive facilitation but was facilitation of a most criminal nature. Known child rapists were protected while the victims were silenced, known child rapists were sent all over the world where their crimes were unknown and they simply continued to rape children. Cardinal Sean Brady, in Ireland, has admitted in 2010 that he with other members of the Catholic Church, forced child victims of religious child rape to sign letters of secrecy about their ordeals.
The Limits of Liberty, presented by RTE 1, on the 31st of May 2010, tells the heart rendering story of Peter Tyrrell, who was formerly housed in Letterfrack Industrial School, 1924-32, for no other reason than that his family was poor. Peter had committed no crime; his only crime was to come from a family that was poor. Peter had in later life written many letters of complaint to the authorities complaining about the abuse of children by the Religious Orders but his calls for justice fell on deaf ears. Peter felt that he was not believed and in 1967 feeling betrayed and isolated, Peter dosed himself with petrol on Hampstead Heath in England and took his own life. It took twelve months for his body to be identified. We now know that Peter was telling the truth, that truth has been established by a 1000 voices that echoed for so long in those places of evil. The rape and torture of children at the hands of Catholic Priests, Christian Brothers and a host of other Devils in Skirts was systematic and deliberate, these Devils were not held to account by their political bedfellows. Peter Tyrrell had fought against the Nazis in WW11 and had been a prisoner of war; he said in one of his letters that the abuse he suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church was much greater than anything he had been subjected to by the German Guards or Gestapo at his prisoner of war camp.
The area of sexual crime that has evoked most public disquiet, is that perpetrated against children, yet the Irish Republic in 2010 has no mandatory reporting of child rape or abuse. Much of the sexual crime committed against children, although not exclusively, involves seduction and entrapment. Contrary to public discourse, those persons in our community who commit acts of sexual crime against children are not a homogeneous group, this category of offender normally and conveniently referred to as paedophiles (sexual attraction to children) is made up of Homophiles (same gender sex abuse), Hetrophiles (opposite gender sex abuse), Bi-sexual paedophiles (either gender, sex abuse), Homosexual epebopiles (sexual abuse of same gender adolescents) and so forth (Casey.1999). There are two reasons that I make this point, First: so that from the very out set of this article, it is clear, that those who commit sexual crimes against children cannot be set outside mainstream society as an easily identifiable group. It may well suit the liberal agenda to castigate this group of people as being non-homosexual, non-lesbian or non-decent middle class liberal, just as it may suit the right wing hard line agenda, to suggest that this is a small deviant group outside of the conservative elite of politicians, Churchmen, Judges, Barristers, Police officers, Army officers, Solicitors, Business Executives and so forth, however, they are all that and more (Operation Amethyst, The Irish Times.2002, Phoenix.2002, Operation Magenta, Ferns, Murphy and Ryan Reports, Irishtimes.com). Secondly and neatly summed up by Brenda O’Brien:
Demonising child abusers and acting as if they were all the same does nothing to protect children (Irish Times.2002).
Within this category of criminal, the scales of sexual abuse against children go from the highest level of homicide/rape to the lower level of inappropriate touch, voyeurism and so forth. The conviction of a middle class man in Dublin’s Central Criminal Court in July 2001 for possession of child pornography depicting children being raped and tortured highlights the appetite for such depravity and cruelty. On the 27th of May 2002, the Gardai raided over one hundred premises across the Irish Republic and seized computer hardware and software containing hundreds of thousands of downloaded files depicting children being raped and tortured. Premises raided during Operation Amethyst included the homes of a Circuit Court Judge, Barrister, Solicitor, Accountant, Company Director, Social Worker and a range of other ‘professionals’ (Irish Times.2002). The majority of these middle and upper class deviants were successfully prosecuted; their punishment in the form of fines and community service. The case against the Circuit Court judge did not proceed as the search warrant used to search his house was some hours out of date.
Stewart Tendler reporting in the Irish Independent (2002) informed us that more than 1200 teachers, doctors, care workers, policemen and so forth were arrested across the UK during Operation Ore which had like Operation Amethyst been intelligence lead by the FBI. On the same day that Operation Amethyst swung into action, a Garda Sgt/Crime Prevention Officer, based in Drogheda, appeared in the Dublin District Court, facing three charges under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act (1998) and under the Criminal Law and Sexual Offences Act. One of the charges listed related to solicitation of a female child (Irish Independent.2002). This Garda Sgt would plead guilty and be sentenced to a term of imprisonment; upon his released he reoffended and is now serving an eight year prison term. Over a three year period up to and including 2002 there were 79 Garda Officers charged with a variety of criminal offences including possession of child pornography and sexual assault (Brady, T. Irish Independent. 23/11/02). Some Gardai were also being investigated by the Morris Tribunal and Child pornography had been found at Garda Headquarters (Irish Times.19/12/02).
In December, 2002, an Irish Army Sergeant Major, who was the highest non-commissioned officer in the Irish Defence Forces pleaded guilty to several counts of sexual assault on young male soldiers. If society needed to be awakened to the endemic nature of child sexual abuse in modern society then that awakening came on the 12th day of September, 2002. On that day two Cambridgeshire police officers were arrested and charged by West Midlands Police investigating the distribution of indecent photographs of children. Detective Constable, Brian Stevens who was one of the officers arrested, had two weeks earlier read a poem ‘Lord of Comfort’ at the memorial service for two ten year old girls, Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells. The two girls had been kidnapped and murdered by a known sexual predator. Detective Stephens had been assigned to the Chapman family during the murder inquiry. A male caretaker and assistant female teacher at the girl’s school would later be charged with the murder of the two young girls. However, the list of high profile cases is endless both in the UK and the Irish Republic, in 2009, Sinn Fein President; Gerry Adams was forced to admit that he had known for decades that both his father Gerry Snr and his own brother Liam were child abusers. At the time of writing Gerry’s brother Liam is awaiting a decision of the High Court in Dublin in relation to a European Arrest Warrant that has been issued for him in relation to allegations that he raped his daughter Aine from she was a toddler to her teens.
At the lower end of the scale manipulative men and women exploit the trust placed in them to sexually abuse children, one such example, in 2001, of which there are many coming before the Irish courts, a woman (homophile) was sentenced to six months in prison after admitting that she had sexually abused her friends infant female child, while babysitting that child. In addition to sexual crimes, there is, as with most crimes, a potential legacy of emotional, psychological and social trauma that can follow from such events. There is also in sexual crime the added dimension of the abused becoming abuser. Many cases of sexual crime against children and others coming before the courts, have shown that the perpetrator of sexual crime have themselves been victims of domestic or institutional sexual criminality. However, societies answer is to deny responsibility and to throw the perpetrator in jail, where the myriad of problems being faced by that convicted person become manifest.
It should be remembered that much of the sexual crime perpetuated against children takes place within a domestic setting or certainly at the hands of someone known to the victim. It does not take hours, days, or weeks for someone to sexually abuse a child, a perpetrator will seek out any window of opportunity to quench his/her desires. A perpetrator can get enough stimulus from simply lifting a child down from a swing or walking into the bathroom when a child is being bathed, close supervision and monitoring of children and who has access to them is the best way to prevent sexual crime, you will never know who to trust so trust no one. Children need to be educated about the dangers of sexual crime this must be done in a way that leaves no ambiguity. Psychotherapist, Marie Keenan says that:
In 80-95% of all child sexual abuse cases the perpetrator is known to the victim (Irish Times.2002).
In every town, town land, village and city in Ireland families have their secrets; however, those secrets are the very water in which the child abuser swims. The abuser will use family loyalties and close friendships to conceal their crimes, however, this is a mistake, people who have knowledge of child abuse must report it and there should be legislation to prosecute them if they don’t report it. John Muncie, in Rethinking Social Policy (2000), reminds us that domestic violence in all its forms has only recently been taken seriously when he says:
In a similar vein it has taken some twenty years of feminist enquiry to have it acknowledged that violence, danger and risk lie not just on the streets or in the corridors of power, but in the sanctity of the home (p.220).
While I would agree with Muncie that domestic violence remained hidden for many generations, my own observations would suggest that some of these ‘feminist’ groups within what has become a ‘victims industry’ in Ireland are now occupying that oppressive place of denial once championed by the Catholic Church and its political bedfellows. These groups ‘deny’ domestic violence against men by women, and they excuse the sexual abuse of children by women as some hang over from an abusive nightmare. Women are equally as able to murder and rape as are men, the fact that women do not appear in the dock as often as men is no reason to excuse their criminality. Professor Paul O’Mahony in his book Criminal Chaos (1996), points to inequality as being at the heart of much sexual crime when he states:
The whole problem is greatly complicated by the significant role played in sexual offences by unequal power relations in society between men and women and between adults and children, and by the highly conflicted, often ambiguous and psychologically fraught nature of ‘normal, consensual’ sexual relations (p.207).
O’Mahony is in my opinion correct, unequal power relations are significant in sexual criminality. However, traditionally such unequal power relations were seen to be that of powerful men over helpless women, cases now coming before the courts show us that unequal relations between women and children can be every bit as damming and criminal. Indeed we have seen cases of women sexually assaulting both men and women coming before the courts, however, it remains much of a taboo for men to report sexual abuse at the hands of a woman. Equally, social workers in most cases are much more likely to look upon women sexually abusing children as a medical difficulty to be addressed by counselling, than being purely criminal to be addressed by the courts.
While there is no doubt that sexual crime is in part related to unequal relations between male/female, adults and children, the question of sexual crime and particularly such sexual crime against children is much more complex, in that it involves a host of social, psychological, moral and religious influences (Casey.1999 and O’Mahony.1996). Psychotherapist, Marie Keenan states that:
The lethal cocktail is a person living with a feeling of powerlessness in a position of power (Irish Times.2002).
While largely ignored by the tabloid press, in more and more cases coming before the Irish Courts the role played by women in sexual criminality is slowly being exposed. The role of women in sexual criminality whether by way of perpetrator, facilitator or both remains an area of research largely untouched. Yet the central role played by women in sexual criminality has been known for decades. The problem is of course that the Feminazi want the focus to remain on male deviants and this of course allows the truth about tens of thousands of self-confessed female child abusers to be buried in the dusty shelves of the fourteen area Health Boards in the Irish Republic. This concealment by stealth ensures that children are put at risk of sexual molestation at the hands of women each and every day in Ireland.
The conviction in England in the 1960s of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley for a series of gruesome sex/homicide crimes against children was a wakeup call that was largely ignored as those perpetrators and their crimes were sentenced to death by the lethal injection of time. History continued and continues to repeat itself, time and time again, the Yorkshire Ripper and his wife Rose West committed heinous crimes, David and Catherine Birnie in Perth were the West’s mirror image. Yet in every epoch women have been portrayed as the helpless followers of the male demon, when it is quite clear that these women were able and willing to participate in murder and rape at will. These cases are at the higher end of the scale and are used here for that purpose; however, each and every day in Ireland men and women in equal number commit acts of sexual criminality, mainly against children. Recent incest cases coming before the Irish Courts show what men and women can do in equal measure. Homophiles, hetrophiles and so forth pervade every area of society, yet many people in positions of power and authority deliberately and intentionally try to mislead the public.
While there must be public awareness of the crime of sexual abuse against children and sexual crime in general, we must not allow that awareness to become a witch hunt, whether against the Church, the State, any group or individual in our modern day democracy. Whether, that Witch hunt be driven by the Feminazi, the chatting liberals of the middle classes, the right wing moral philosophers, weak politicians or the lurid and voyeuristic banner headlines of the tabloids, headlines that facilitate the deep recesses of denial in our country. While De Valera made speeches about the “laughter of happy maidens” the courts in his own constituency were packed with cases of child rape. While former Minister for Justice, John O’Donoghue, talked about there being nowhere in Ireland for abusers of children to hide, he was signing off on a One-Billion-Euro deal that would ensure that thousands of religious child rapists would never face the courts. He denied money for rehabilitative care of persons convicted of sexual crime, yet could spend vast fortunes of tax payers’ money on providing himself with five star luxuries.
Carol Sarler, a rape victim, supports Watter’s view of the negative impact of extreme feminism on the sexual crime debate when she says:
We must first neutralise the venom and the influence of the sisterhood, who cannot bear to see a man in jail without also seeing the key thrown away (Observer.2000).
What is clear is that the general management of perpetrators must be such as to strive for best practice in child protection and community safety. This view was summed up concisely by Professor Harry Ferguson when he said:
The issue needs to move from one of revulsion to remedies (Irish Times.2002).
The great problem with this rational approach to remedies is that we live in a country that has no mandatory reporting of child rape/abuse, we live in a country where the files of tens of thousands of known child abusers remain on the shelves of the Health Boards without ever being passed to the Gardai, we live in a country that has produced the Ferns Report, Murphy Report and Ryan reports, all of which have identified thousands of child abusers and these abusers continue to live in the community without any restriction. Tens of thousands of known sex offenders can without legal restriction work with children and have unsupervised access to children. The only known sex offenders who are barred from working with children are those who appear on the sex offenders register, this accounts for 1100 sex offenders in 2010, this accounts for a small percentage of persons who are known to have engaged in sexual criminality including child rape.
The case of Catholic Nun, Sr Nora Wall and her co-accused Pablo Mc Cabe, who were wrongfully convicted by the Irish Courts, with the crime of child rape, is used by Kevin Myers, to highlight the caution that must accompany public disquiet:
Had it not been discovered that at least one of the witnesses against Sr Nora Wall and Pablo Mc Cabe had previously made unsubstantiated rape charges, might not Nora and Pablo be in indefinite solitary confinement the objects of universal obloquy throughout the land. How, in the moral frenzy which is sweeping the country is anyone able to distinguish the genuine complaint from the bogus one after such a passage of time? Have other Nora Walls vanished unnoticed into our prisons? How many more still to come? And for how much longer will tabloid headlines demonise human beings into caricatures of witchdom, the easier, no doubt, to burn them at the stake? (Irish Times.2001).
An equally contemporary case of injustice, of which there are many, was highlighted by RTE 1, in their current affairs programme, True Lives (2002). It was shown in this program, that Fr Shay Cullen, who works with the street children of the Philippines many of whom are prostituted by ruthless child sex traffickers for the international child sex tourist industry, became the victim of a malicious child rape allegation in 2001, the penalty for which is death in the Philippines. Fr Cullen was eventually acquitted in Court, as it became clear that the child at the centre of the allegation had been forced to make such an allegation against Fr Cullen by those with an interest in keeping the child sex industry free from the International gaze that Fr Cullen’s work had brought. For some men/women convicted and sentenced for the sexual abuse of children and sexual crime in general, they have had to spend decades in prison, before being cleared by new advances in DNA evidence. One such person Charles Fain, was released in the US, 24th August, 2001, after serving 19 years of a life sentence, on Death Row, for a sexual crime against a child, that new DNA evidence, proves he did not commit (Evening Herald.2001). Fain is only one of many such innocent people who have walked free after many years pleading their innocence; How many died innocent men/women, we will never know. In a modern day democracy one minute in jail for an innocent person, never mind 19 years, is a crime against humanity that cannot be tolerated.
As Ireland remains in denial of the endemic nature of sexual criminality, miscarriages of justice will continue to happen, as those accused remain ‘guilty’ until proven ‘innocent’. However, at the centre of all the debate about sexual crime, must be the victims alleged or real and how best to develop a fair and just way of dealing with their complaints, without inflicting further hurt and pain. Whether that is further hurt and pain inflicted by an overzealous social worker, psychologist, Doctor or Police Officer, to prove a crime and so on. Children have time and again been used by jilted lovers and bitter ex-wives to make allegations of sexual crime against former partners, false allegations of sexual criminality have been made in land and property disputes, the list is endless. Perpetrators alleged or real have been forced into suicide or denial, having already been held high in public odium in his/her community. Here again the Feminazi fall silent about injustice, here again the Feminazi do nothing for the cause of the real victims of sexual crime.
Donald West (1983) offers some light for those who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse when he suggests:
That even where there is initial manifest disturbance, the children out grow, these reactions and make a satisfactory adjustment (p.7).
Victims alleged or real and perpetrators alleged or real and the way the Courts system treats them, remains a serious bone of contention and contradiction within our criminal justice system. As highlighted by a report commissioned by the Rape Crisis Centre (RCC) (Irish Times.2002), the majority of sexual crimes go unreported for a variety of reasons. One reason alleged is that the courts have no empathy with such victims. While I do not suggest that any serious commentator on child sexual abuse or sexual crime in general, take this report by the RCC, as reflecting a ‘real’ or ‘precise’ picture of the true extent of sexual crime. Not least because of its PVC window methodology. For example, the report used 1000 cold calls as its central sample, of alleged or actual victims of sexual crime. The report, even with its flawed methodology is a useful barometer, and I labour it no more than that, of the possible extent of the problem to be faced in the area of sexual crime in the Irish Republic (see, also Conference Report.1993).
Again it is essential that we remember that many thousands of people are now making a salary out of what has become known as the ‘victims industry’, one can hardly turn a corner but some new ‘made up’ group is being funded by tax payers money. Some solicitors are openly placing advertisements in the lurid tabloids, inviting people to come forward and make an unchallenged claim from the Redress Board. Some so called journalists are making fortunes by simply having court transcripts printed in paperback. For many the ‘victims industry’ is putting bread on the table and for this reason, open, honest and reasoned debate on the subject of sexual crime is a long way off.
Victims and perpetrators alleged or real, feel the criminal justice system is not dealing with them in a fair and reasonable manner. In 2002, the Chairperson of the RCC Ms Breda Allen said:
The Court system is adversarial, switches the onus from the alleged perpetrator to the victim (Irish Times.2002).
I think it is fair to say that these comments by the Chairperson of the RCC show a lack of understanding of our court system. The burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt must remain with the State, and as the examples in this paper have shown, juries are not always a good detector of false allegations and lies, when presented with the drama and emotion of such cases, and particularly if they are high profile. Rarely are women charged with making false allegations of rape or sexual assault against men, and never have the Feminazi called for such prosecutions, yet men who are subject to such false allegations and their families have to live with the stigma for the rest of their lives. On the 17th of June, 2002, at Cork Circuit Court, one such woman was returned for trail for making three different false allegations of rape, against three different men, at three different times. This woman admitted during Garda interviews that she had never even meet one of the men, whom she alleged raped her (Irish Independent.2002).  False allegations are now common practice for a whole range of reasons, yet our criminal justice system remains unwilling to prosecute the perjurers, family courts are notorious places for false allegations to be made, these in camera secret proceedings throw the door wide open to false allegation and perjury.
In 1994 the Supreme Court made a decision that went some way to helping alleviate the court room trauma of a trial for the victim and to a lesser consideration the perpetrator, by allowing a trial judge to give Defendants a discount off their sentence ‘if they plead guilty’ and save the victim the distress of giving evidence and keeping free a trial slot for another case. However, this discount for a plea bargain leaves the defendant who is pleading not guilty at a disadvantage, of they are found guilty. Sr Nora Wall being a case in point, where she was sentenced to life for a crime she did not commit, had she pleaded guilty she would have received about 7-10 years. It is a bizarre situation for those who maintain their innocence but who may be falsely convicted. It can also be argued that the plea bargain, simply allows actual perpetrators to deny/minimise their crimes in the public domain, by pleading guilty to sample charges and serving only a short sentence. It is often the case that a guilty plea in a rape/homicide case will see the rape charge dropped as part of the deal, this creates its own long term problems.
Elizabeth Stanko, in Rethinking Social Policy (2000), says that:
Moreover, research shows that when an incident comes to the attention of the criminal justice system, the State’s interest in punishing violent offenders if affected by people’s assessment of the violence they experience (p.250).
Another bone of contention in the area of sexual crime coming before the courts is whether or not the continued psychological and emotional fall out from acts of sexual crime should be taken into consideration, when sentence is passed on a convicted person. The Victim Impact Report which is prepared for the court in cases of sexual crime and non-sexual crime enters a contradiction into our criminal justice system, which has since the foundation of the State, held that it is the crime committed and not its consequences for which an offender must be punished. In theory and on occasion, in practice, a person committing a sexual assault at the lower end of the scale can receive a more severe sentence than a perpetrator of rape, if the rape victim recovers better due to personal traits. There have been many cases where harsh sentences were handed down due to the fact that the victim had attempted to take their own life due to the alleged abuse; however, many of these children had been prescribed unlicensed mind-altering drugs such as Serotax. Serotax is banned in all other countries due to its side effects including suicide and personality disorder, yet the majority of our judges would have no idea what these victims were feed as their Health Board files are rarely available to the Court.
Experts continue to argue as to whether the Victim Impact Reports relate solely to the alleged or actual abuse, and not other environmental considerations (Bradshaw.1999). As I have pointed out here and which will come as a surprise to many reading, unlicensed mind-altering drugs are continuing to be feed to childhood victims of abuse, yet the negative side effects of these drugs, including self-harm and false memories have been known about for many years. Victim Impact Reports are normally ‘packed’ including matters that have been proven manifestly untrue in court, when one witnesses these Reports being distributed to the lurid tabloids by persons more interested in headlines than community safety one understands why this ‘packing’ occurs. Judge Paul Carney, one of the most seasoned Judges dealing with sexual criminality has regularly criticised the abuse of the Victim Impact Statement, by certain people appearing before his court.
Sentencing in the Irish Courts remains discretionary, with the caveat of the (1993) Criminal Justice Act, which allows for the DPP to seek a Review of a sentence, if ‘they’ believe that such a sentence is unduly lenient. However, there is a sense within the Criminal Justice System that the 1993 Act, is being applied in a way that is invidiously discriminatory, in that certain cases that are high profile are appealed by the State, while more serious cases with lesser sentences are not appealed. In November, 2000, Michael Feeney, a former Headmaster, was convicted of sexually molesting dozens of children, one of Feeney’s victims told the Circuit Court in Monaghan that those pupils not abused were the exception. Feeney had engaged in serious sexual assault and bondage with the children. Feeney was sentenced to three years and the DPP did not appeal. At the same court Vincent Mc Kenna was convicted of the sexual assault of one child, and was sentenced to three years, and the DPP did appeal. The difference between the two cases was that the DPP v Mc Kenna case was high profile and the DPP simply went with the baying mob.
In 2001, the Central Criminal Court, where serious cases of sexual crime are heard, imposed lesser sentences in half the sex cases heard there, than lesser cases heard in the Circuit Courts. For example, in the Central Criminal Court, twenty-seven persons convicted of serious sexual assault were sentenced to two years or over, but less than five (Irish Times.2002). There are times however when ‘exceptional’ circumstances are addressed by way of exceptional sentences in cases of child sexual crime. In a case coming before the Central Criminal Court in October, 2002, a 42 year old male (Homophile) was given a life sentence for the rape and sexual abuse of a number of male children. In this ‘exceptional’ case the perpetrator had videotaped some of his crimes against the children (Irish Independent.2002). Yet two months later in the Circuit Criminal Court, a 47 year old soccer manager with previous convictions for Homophile activity, received three years for a series of Homophile assaults on young boys in his ‘care’ (Irish Independent.2002).
Almost every offence has its special characteristics and so deserves to be treated as a unique event. The continued calls by some groups within the ‘victims industry’ for mandatory sentencing, have themselves done more harm than good in their blinkered approach to sexual crime. This myriad of groups now competing for tens of millions of tax payer’s money each year will do whatever it takes to grab the headlines as the various trenches of funding become available from Government departments. Make no mistake, this is an industry that many of its well salaried and expense account CEOs will not be letting go any time soon. Paul O’Mahony (1996) raises the issue of mandatory sentencing, when he says:
Despite emotive calls for a uniform rigidly harsh response to sex offences, everything that has been learned about sex offending in recent years indicates that it is essential to maintain the tradition of judicial discretion in this area (p.125).
Some judges have taken the time to try and understand the complexities of sexual criminality, however, it is clear from the comments of a number f judges that they have very little idea about the complexities of sexual crime in general. For example, in a case coming before the Central Criminal Court (18th February, 2002), High Court Judge, Mr Philip O’Sullivan, asked for new guidelines to clarify the distinction between therapeutic and medical examination, of alleged rape and sexual assault victims. While my observation is in no way a criticism of Judge O’Sullivan’s request, it is an incredible indictment on the Criminal Justice system that after thousands of such cases coming before the courts many judges remains in limbo when it comes to the complexities of sexual criminality. Mr Justice O’Sullivan was speaking on the 14th day of the trail of a man charged with 79 counts of sexual assault against his niece. Mr Justice O’Sullivan, directed the jury to find the man not guilty on 78 of the charges, after Manchester Police Surgeon, Dr Steven Robinson, told the court that, “modern medical practice” had not been applied in this case. The fact is of course that modern medical practice has not been applied in many such cases, yet the Prosecution, Judges, Juries and Defence teams accept such evidence as bone fide.
I was given access to a number of Books of Evidence, by a number of persons accused of sexual crime, in many of the ‘Medical Reports’, contained in those Books of Evidence, was a ‘medical finding’ referred to as anal dilation. In each of the medical reports examined in these Books of Evidence this ‘finding’ was stated as being consistent with the sex abuse alleged, yet in many of the victims statements no allegation of anal abuse was ever mentioned. Anal dilation is determined by a doctor inserting one of his/her digits inside the anus of an alleged victim, having placed the digit inside an alleged victim the Doctor guesstimates whether there is dilation of the anus or not. There is no scientific measure. In contrast to the conclusions of consistency in these medical reports, the Cleveland Report concluded:
We are satisfied from the evidence that the consensus is that the sign of anal dilation is abnormal and suspicious and requires further investigation. It is not in itself evidence of anal abuse (Kahan.1998.p.68).
However, the word consistent in a medical report is normally enough for non-medical/expert professional law officers in the office of the DPP to pursue charges against an accused person. The burden of proof in such cases has been reduced to the standard of proof in a civil action, all of which flies in the face of International standards in relation to a person’s right to a fair trial. It is clear from the media reporting of such cases that the prosecution labour the fact that the accused person cannot offer any reasonable explanation as to why such a complaint was made. An accused person in such cases now remains guilty until proven innocent. Again proving that in the absence of universal knowledge of these matters, miscarriages of justice will prevail.
The confusion surrounding sexual criminality and particularly such cases coming before the courts is best explained by case law. A High Court Order directing that a former soldier should not be prosecuted for allegedly sexually abusing an eleven year old boy in 1981 was appealed to
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