Children are still being sexually abused by adults across Scotland. Despite this evil tragedy having been exposed by the media as having happened frequently in churches, seminaries, schools and in people’s own homes, it is still going on.
This is according to a new report from the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, which has a hearings centre in Church Street, Dumbarton, and the charity Barnardo’s Scotland.
The last revelation of this nature in Dumbarton came when a now deceased local priest, Father John Gowans, pictured left, who ran the Boy’s Guild at St Patrick’s Church in Strathleven Place, was named and shamed.
Former members of the Guild, altar boys and young women who had been involved in the church came forward to say they had been abused.
At least one former altar boy, Jim Lawn, made accusations against the priest and said that he had instructed solicitors to take legal action against the church on his behalf.
The abuse is happening in the islands, rural communities and urban areas, with cases identified in all but five of Scotland’s local authorities.
The research suggests that the abuse of boys is often overlooked.
“Sexual exploitation of children involved in the children’s hearings system” is the first national study of child sexual exploitation in Scotland.
It defined the crime as a form of child sexual abuse in which a person or people of any age takes advantage of a power imbalance to force or entice a child into engaging in sexual activity in return for something received by the child and/or those perpetrating or facilitating the abuse. A child is anyone up to 18 years old.
Child sexual exploitation, which was what High Court judge Lady Smith was asked to preside over a separate public inquiry about, was found to be happening in every part of the country with cases identified in 27 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities.
One of the worst places for this happening was at Smyllum, a children’s home in Lanarkshire, run by nuns.
One of the study’s most alarming findings of the Barnardo? Children’s Panel inquiry was that 80% of the boys the research team said were likely to have been victims of sexual exploitation had not been identified as such in official reports.
For girls it was just 25%.
The report calls for further efforts to increase communities’ and agencies’ awareness of the problem.
It found stark differences between boys and girls, including:
- Boys were more likely to have been exposed to violence and display sexually harmful behaviour than girls
Girls were more likely to :
- be reported to have a much older boy/girlfriend
- be victims of sexual abuse
- have attempted suicide
- be sexually active
Barnardo’s has also published 15 recommendations for action.