Communicator (communicator) wrote,

The Orkney case

There was a thought-provoking documentary on BBC2 last night about the Orkney child abuse scandal of the early nineties. I heard a lot about this at the time, because I used to go to Quaker meetings in those days, when I lived in Ealing in my early days with H. One of the accused families was Quaker.

I can't be even-handed about this or this post will be too long. This was a typical Satanic Panic, the authorities were in the wrong, and the children were wrongly taken away, treated like criminals, and brow-beaten for hours at a time (every day for 8 weeks) to 'confess' they had had sexual relations with their parents and other adults. They refused. The articulate middle class Quaker family got their kids back after a couple of months (thank god) the illiterate single mother whose abusive husband was in jail didn't get her kids back for five years. That's how it works.

What was interesting to me was that the attitude to child abuse had supposedly changed in the eighties, but actually it was still the same - children were ignored and bullied by adults to say what the adults wanted to hear. It was just that what adults wanted to hear had changed. Child abuse was still a supposed 'taint' on the child - the children were treated like criminals, one was locked in an young offenders institution (why?) and their emotions were trampled on. It seems to change, but it stays the same. Adults use children to act out their own emotional needs, because the children are helpless.

I am also interested in the way some (far from all) powerless women, perhaps with issues of their own, exert the tiny bit of power they have got to make children unhappy. We see this in the testimony of children cared for by nuns for example. I think it is most common in authoritarian women, who identify with the establishment. In this case I mean the social workers, who seem the worst of their kind.

I'm not letting men off the hook, because I think ultimately all this bullying and false accusation covers up the real sexual abuse that goes on within families, almost all by male abusers. Some women collude in this, and one way they collude is to make a lot of noise about other things every time the issue comes up.

In short we see a lot of power relations: gender, age and social class. Every person kicks the person one further down the hierarchy than them.
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