Child abuse in Scotland: Where is the public outrage that's so vital to securing justice? – Alison Dickie

“Where is the outrage?” Someone tweeted out this question about child abuse and it struck a chord with me.

Broadcaster and journalist Nicky Campbell has spoken out about alleged child abuse at Edinburgh Academy during his time there
Broadcaster and journalist Nicky Campbell has spoken out about alleged child abuse at Edinburgh Academy during his time there

In the last few months alone, the media has reported on a number of child abuse cases, from historic claims about Edinburgh Academy to the jailing of a former Scottish prosecutor.

More widely, there is the Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell case, the sex trafficking of underage girls and the powerful clients yet to be held accountable.

The stories of the different survivors seem like ‘David and Goliath’ experiences. Against all the odds, they bravely walk the long road for truth and justice. Amidst silence from us?

Is it our belief that due process based on evidence will rightly follow, and that it’s for the professionals and courts alone?

Is it just that sinister elephant in the room or maybe that we can’t face the fact it happens in Scotland? One look at the investigations on the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry’s website, and our shameful record is set straight. And that’s only residential cases!

Greater national debate will ensure the full truth about child abuse in Scotland, both historic and current, holding our elected members to account for the progress.

Edinburgh Council has recently launched its redress scheme for survivors of the abuse conducted by the late senior social worker, Sean Bell. It follows an independent inquiry which pointed to other survivors out there, and is a financial alternative to the court process.

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Alison Dickie: Edinburgh council must be more open about its investigations into...

Before and after the inquiry, I raised allegations made by many whistleblowers with the relevant authorities – some involving child abuse. Whilst the inquiry concluded the abuse didn’t involve children, a response to my question at a full council meeting agreed there could be survivors of child abuse out there.

Truth and accountability are the focus of a representative group of whistleblowers. They believe the council’s independent inquiry failed to thoroughly investigate unresolved cases due to its narrow terms of reference, and continue to call for a public inquiry.

Nationally, there have been calls for a whistleblowing officer; an inquiry into state schools and regulated children’s activities; and the mandatory reporting of child abuse. I also raised concerns about the loophole of ‘invisible children’ who are not registered with a GP or school.

This needs us all… and it starts with some outrage.