Looking back and moving forward : an exploration of survivors' narratives of historical institutional child abuse

  • Moyra Hawthorn

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

At a time when nations and states across the world are critically examining historical childcare practices, it may be overlooked that until the late 1980s, there was little public awareness of the abuse of children in public care. Since then, despite public inquiries, autobiographies and scholarly writing, little research has explored the influence of such experiences on care leavers'€™ lives. This study sets out to address this.Fourteen adult care leavers shared personal narratives of childhood experiences in residential care between 1915 and the early 1970s and adult lives thereafter. Experiences varied widely but narratives converged in that all identified themselves as having encountered what is now known as historical institutional child abuse. Most identified this as having impacted varyingly on personal identity, self-confidence, adult relationships and emotional wellbeing. This study explores survivors' narratives and the process whereby they made meaning of experiences of historical institutional child abuse over the course of their lives.To fully understand survivors' narratives, it was necessary to consider a number of contextual factors. Interviews with ten participants from service provider agencies helped explain the obstacles encountered by survivor participants in completing their life narratives while literature illuminated the changing constructs of childhood, child abuse and children's rights; changes in law, the developing notion of transitional justice and the process whereby historical institutional child abuse has come to be perceived as historical injustice.These have been influenced in turn by processes associated with late modernity, which impacted on personal lives and service providers' systems and practice. Arguably what has been the public narrative of the care of vulnerable children in Scotland historically is now being challenged by survivors' narratives.This study offers lessons for practice, in respect of survivors of historical institutional child abuse and children in care today.
Date of Award12 Sep 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorAndrew Kendrick (Supervisor) & Irene Stevens (Supervisor)

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