There has been so much commentary about the issue of child abuse within families. My last post was about the way that the cycle of abuse repeats itself.
There is also abuse by institutions. I used to think it was mostly 'olden times.' I read a book recently, full of facts and figures. The author, Allan Gill, must have done an enormous amount of research. The book is 'Orphans of the Empire,' and while it started out to detail the way that 'orphans' were sent from Britain to provide good white stock for the former colonies, his research showed that Australian-born 'orphans' had it no better. And the more 'religious' the institution, it appeared the more wickedly they treated the poor kids in their power. Not their 'care,' their power.
But that was the not the present day, surely. We're civilised now - aren't we? Maybe in the 19th century, there were orphanages where children were dressed in rags, and maybe begged for a little more gruel, but that would have long ended by the 1950s. The 1950s in Australia was an era of prosperity. We had civilised values - didn't we?
Author Lorraine Cobcroft has opened my eyes. This is the story of a brother and sister taken from their home and placed in an institution. Their home was not perfect - poor housing, occasionally not
enough to eat. But the institution run by nuns was a lot worse. Now the kids never had enough food, had no care or affection, and were beaten at the slightest excuse or for none at all.
Why were the nuns like this? Is it because their motivation for becoming nuns was never to do with the love of God? Could it be that they were casualties of two world wars leading to a shortage of young men and an excess of women?
I am only a few years younger than 'Paul' of the story. I remember hearing that the nuns who taught at the Catholic school could be absolutely wicked. I didn't take much notice at the time. But these poor kids were in the power of sadistic nuns all the time, not just in school hours.
'The Pencil Case' is a very important book. It deserves to become widely known.
A recent review by Julie on the readers' site, Goodreads:
Throwing children into a lion's den, for their own good?...to save them from some "perceived" hardship?!!?
This is the true story of Paul Wilson (not his real name) and his younger sister Jennifer.
Robbed of the parents he so loved, and robbed of their essential love of him.
Robbed of the chance to grow up with his siblings and his would be status in that order....or indeed to grow at all.
Robbed of any chance at individuality or a unique identity.
Robbed of his very spirit.
Nothing...no mementos, big or small, no photos or keepsakes or any trophy to mark his progression from childhood through adolescence, save for the physical and mental scars he'd been shackled with from a life which had been moulded by the premeditated cruelty and injustice, from so called people of trust and influence...."Carer's".
From the moment of, and as a direct consequence of, his wrongful incarceration at the age of eight years, into what was loosely termed as "Care", Paul's life was plunged into a nightmare of incredible and unbelievable torture and sacrifice of self, which must have seemed to him that he was never again to awaken from.
Even after finally surfacing into adulthood, then marriage and children of his own, as he tried to pick up the pieces and build a future for himself and his family, it seems as if life itself had conspired against Paul by thwarting him at every turn.
Some of this later pain and suffering was a result of his inability to cope in the outside world after so many years of desensitization by the "powers that be", who systematically put him down and calculatedly undermined his self esteem.
Then some was as a direct result of the actions of greedy, manipulative, self preserving and ego driven people, who were wrongfully placed in positions of power, and who used that power to lie and cheat, in order to promote their own selfish interests and keep secure...at whatever cost...a position that would otherwise be redundant.
These include people from religious groups, community leaders, politicians, law enforcement agents, military groups, legal people and so on...none are exempt, and all of which agencies have, at times hence, had representatives who have been held accountable for such abuse of their powers in other circumstances unrelated to this case.
...And yet still, in 2013 certain church leaders are condoning and concealing these and other kinds of atrocities which are being perpetuated on children in their "care"...children who suffer alone, because they don't have a voice. These people have no conscience!
Every person in any position of authority, or in any way affiliated with any organization even remotely concerned with the well being, care and education of children... Should read this story....Especially "religious care", as the very term erroneously implies that they are trustworthy and above suspicion.
This has to be addressed and understood that it is not an acceptable state of affairs.
Is it any wonder genuinely good Christian people struggle with their faith!
It can only be hoped that those responsible for exacting such extreme, brutal and atrocious methods of uncalled for punishment on children for reasons of..what can only be construed as... perverted self gratification... will one day cross over and have to face their own judgement day! Hallelujah to that day!
It makes me very, very angry and sad, and just as it did also, for the aborigines, it leaves me feeling both frustrated and hollow at our inability to make amends... NOTHING on God's earth, can bring back or repay a stolen childhood, nor heal the bruises which for so many victims remain buried deep within, unseen ...and for others, are permanently tattooed on their flesh as a constant reminder of just how many ways a heart and spirit can be broken.
This is an important story that needs to be heard.
Congratulations 'Paul Wilson' for finding the courage to relive it in order that it be told...you are an inspiration. Kudos to your wife and family also.
Congratulations also, to Lorraine Cobcroft for telling it so very well.
To buy 'The Pencil Case' go to an online bookselling site such as Goodreads or Amazon.
I very much hope that things are a lot different for children in care these days. My Penwinnard Stories tell of a beach home where the children are treated well, are not beaten, and have sufficient to eat. It is not a religious home, but a private charity home, though it still has to fulfil standards set by the government. There are no nuns.
The third Penwinnard Story is called 'Trevanian's Leap.'
Its release date is September, 2013.
Frank Ryan was coming to the end of his time at Penwinnard. He felt himself so much more grown up now than the scared kid he’d been when his mother had been sentenced to a prison term. But now there was more change coming – a new place to live, a new school, and he’d lose the friends he’d made at Penwinnard, Greg and Leon. He’d never really had friends before.
He shouldn’t be frightened. He was so much more grown up now...
In many cultures, in many countries, there are manhood rituals. Penwinnard has its own manhood ritual.
To jump off a cliff into a deep pool - it requires courage and it requires judgement. To make an error could mean injury or death. Naturally, it is strictly forbidden, but when a boy needs courage, it becomes a real temptation.
Frank Ryan leaps off Trevanian's Point, and afterwards, feels himself that much closer to being a man.
To buy my books, check on online booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords'.