Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

'Society Is Prejudiced against the Children Who Are in Care'

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

'Society Is Prejudiced against the Children Who Are in Care'

Article excerpt

GROOMING gangs are exploiting society's 'deep prejudice' against children in care, poet Lemn Sissay has said.

Lemn, who was raised by a foster family in Wigan before spending his teenage years in numerous care homes, says kids in care are still viewed as 'toxic.' .

' And he says grooming rings - such as the gang led by Shabir Ahmed inIt's almost child in care' that's why can Poet Lemn Rochdale who were convicted in 2012 of the horrific abuse of five vulnerable young girls in the town, some of whom were in care - are 'exploiting our blind spot' to target their victims.

"It is really easy for us to blame the social workers or the authorities, but the abuse in Rochdale - and Rotherham, Oxfordshire and elsewhere - could not have happened if society wasn't still prejudiced against children in care," said Lemn, who was abused physically, emotionally and racially during his time in care.

"There is still a stigma and I'll tell you why - it's because a child in care is living proof of the dysfunction at the heart of every functioning family.

"If you see a boy or a girl who has been in care, you are looking at something that could happen to your family at any time.

"It's a very serious point. It's almost as though a child in care is toxic, but it's when we look at children like this that the abuse can happen.

"It's a very subtle thing that the abusers are doing.

"They are exploiting our blind spot.

"There is a deep prejudice that we have and the people who carry the pain of that prejudice are the children."

though a is toxic, but the abuse happen Sissay " Speaking in the days before a public inquiry into historic abuse allegedly carried out by the late MP Cyril Smith and others at Knowl View school and Cambridge House boys hostel in Rochdale began, Lemn told how he believes Smith also exploited the care system, alongside his standing and fame, to carry out the alleged crimes.

He said: "My foster dad was from Falinge in Rochdale, so I grew up knowing all about Cyril Smith.

"He was viewed as a northern icon, just like Jimmy Saville, but the really sinister thing is they both used that and it allowed them to carry on in plain sight. …

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