Institutional Abuse: Perspectives across the Life Course

Institutional Abuse: Perspectives across the Life Course

Institutional Abuse: Perspectives across the Life Course

Institutional Abuse: Perspectives across the Life Course


Public inquiries and court cases concerning institutional abuse in a range of settings have generated considerable media interest in the field of institutional abuse, highlighting the need for preventive strategies and appropriate responses to this form of abuse. Letting In the Light brings together a number of different research studies and accounts of institutional abuse from leading academics and researchers. Contributors examine four significant areas: the institutional abuse of children, of adults with mental health problems, of adults with learning difficulties, and of older people. Each section includes a chapter on users' experiences of abuse and their views on how to prevent institutional abuse and address the needs of survivors.


There can be no doubt about the existence of the institutional abuse of some of the most vulnerable people in society. Also, there can be no doubting the harm it has done or the way it has blighted many lives. The only doubt is the extent of it. There can be few greater responsibilities than taking on the parenting of other people’s children. When the State takes on this task, the very least which should be expected is that the children will be safe from harm. It is shocking that, over the years, so many young people experience abuse whilst in public care. The danger is not confined to residential homes but can happen in foster care, adoption and in educational establishments. And it is not confined to young people. Many adults, including those with learning disabilities, those with mental health problems and vulnerable older people are potentially at risk. So the messages from this timely book should be applied widely across the caring services.

The authors have brought together contributors from research and from those with a wide range of knowledge and experience of the care system. It is particularly valuable to hear from those who have stories to tell based on their personal experiences.

It is not always acknowledged that residential work is both skilful and very demanding. The staff have to live the values which underpin good practice every minute they are on duty, when they are tired, anxious or uncertain as well as when things are going well. Residents may bring with them the hurt, disappointments and anger from their previous experiences. It is not surprising that they are often upset and disruptive, or that their behaviour can be very challenging.

Added to this, residential services for both children and adults have often been under-valued. Staff frequently receive little or no training. Supervision and support can be patchy and the most difficult situations often occur outside normal office hours, adding to the general sense of isolation. The Government deserves credit for at long last

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