Monday, 5 September 2011

Why Compensation is Right

I'm printing here the response to the letter from Astrid Kisch as I think it is an extremely important subject. She seemed to think that somehow no kind of reparation should be made for the child abuse which took place at Haut de La Garenne, despite the fact that the States were responsible for running the home, and that several people have been convicted of child abuse.

If she went into hospital, and there was a botched operation, wouldn't she think the States should be responsible, and need to pay damages? If she had a child in school, and the teacher - perhaps in chemistry - completely neglected elementary safety, and suggested that pupils use taste as a means of guessing what a chemical compound was - wouldn't the States be responsible for letting that happen? And wouldn't a claim for compensation be possible if children ended up suffering from poisoning?

After all, in a private business, there is such a thing as professional liability insurance, which covers the company for claims which may be made if one member of staff behaved inappropriately to a client, or broke the Data Protection Law etc. The employee might be disciplined or sacked; the firm would be the organisation that was liable. Compensation would be paid. That's why there is indemnity insurance! And what applies in the private sector must surely also apply in the public.

And there is also a whole difference between matters that were part of the culture of the day - like caning in schools - and severe sexual, physical and mental abuse. When Claire Rayner ended up in hospital because she was beaten by her father, it wasn't just a smack, but violence so extreme as to break bones. And while we perhaps are more sensitive to the long term effects of sexual abuse, it has never been condoned. That it should be done by those responsible for the care of vulnerable adults makes that matter worse.

Here is Carrie Modral's letter responding to Astrid Kisch, which puts the record straight from the perspective of the Jersey Care Leavers...

Ill-informed views on care leavers
From Carrie Modral, chairman, Jersey Care Leavers' Association.

THE letter (JEP, Tuesday 30 August) from Astrid Kisch cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

Overall, this lady appears to have a very ill-informed and blinkered knowledge of the child abuse issues and the ensuing matters, and if we may be permitted we would like to put the record and facts straight.

Firstly she mentions the 'alleged' perpetrators. Does she mean by this that innocent people have been brought to justice for their deeds? They are not alleged, because they have been found guilty in a court of law.

Furthermore not all perpetrators have been brought to justice. Revenge does not enter into the equation - doing the right and lawful thing does. Crimes were committed and those guilty had to be accountable. It really is that simple.

Now we are puzzled. Mrs Kisch talks about the 'care home discipline of those days'.

Is she saying that severe sexual, physical and mental abuse was in the past acceptable discipline? We are not talking about a slapped wrist or a smacked bottom, but far, far worse than that. I do not think she will find many people in agreement with what was acceptable or not however long ago she may be talking about.

Indeed, the care leavers have grown up, but not necessarily 'made their lives'. Many have been left very damaged by what they experienced and will have to live with the legacy of that for the rest of their lives. Some are unable to work and others have many various issues because of the scars that have been left both mentally and physically. Has Mrs Kisch ever spoken to or made any attempt to understand what some survivors suffered and indeed still do.

However, all these most important facts seem to be overlooked by what seems to be the main bugbear and that is compensation, which seems to be a very dirty word in Mrs Kisch's book. Yes - compensation. Is that really too much to ask for lives damaged, childhoods (as she may have known it) lost and something abuse victims can never get back. Furthermore, it appears that with the attitude displayed in her letter Mrs Kisch is causing the victims to be victims yet again.

There has never been any question that compensation would not, or should not be claimed. Children, who for various reasons (and not because they were difficult), were placed either in care homes or residential homes under the supervision of people paid by the States of Jersey to give them the love, affection and nurturing that would have been afforded them in a normal home environment.

The fact that in many instances this did not happen, in fact quite the opposite, leaves the blame fairly and squarely at the door of the States of Jersey for failing these children. Indeed in Ireland most of the Catholic orders and institutions where abuse took place contributed sums of money to the redress scheme for survivors there. Here in Jersey, it is only the government who are accountable.

At present we are unsure whether the States have an indemnity insurance that will cover this, or how the compensation will be paid, but I am sure there are not many people who would begrudge this in any way, shape or form.

Finally, Mrs Kisch would be most welcome to visit our offices should she so wish to learn more about why we are here and the issues we deal with. Better an informed public than an uninformed letter.

Article posted on 2nd September, 2011 - 3.00pm
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alane said...

How could anyone argue with this? Lambs to the slaughter. And to wait so long to be heard and yes, compensated, is unforgivable.

Linda Corby said...

No one with common sense or a heart would argue with this!

Of course those who have been abused should get compensation and it should never have been dragged out the way it is being.