Saturday, 3 September 2011

Astrid Kisch - A Personal Response

Dear Miss Kisch,

I doubt you will read this, however I feel compelled to address some of what you have written in your letter to the Jersey Evening Post.

1. 'The alleged perpetrators of the care home discipline of those days have been convicted'

There is no 'alleged' about it, several people have been convicted in a court of law, case closed! I really don't know where you are going with the 'care home discipline of those days' thing, Are you really saying that the 'discipline' handed out by those people was acceptable because it happened in the past? I don't think having bars of soap forced down your throat, being dragged down flights of stairs by your hair, being punched, sexually abused, locked in a cell, mentally abused and living every day in fear of those who are supposed to be caring for you is acceptable in any decade.

2. 'so the revenge part has been dealt with and the wrongs righted-at great expense to the taxpayer'.

I cant speak for all the survivors, but, on my part 'revenge' never entered into it, All I have ever wanted was justice. I'm sorry but the wrongs done to me will never, I repeat, NEVER be righted, they will stay with me til the day I pass from this earth. As for the expense all I can say is 'what price justice?'

3. 'The care leavers have grown up and made their lives a long time ago'.

Really, are you serious? I am 50 years old and what happened to me as a child has impacted on my life everyday since. I have suffered depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, homelessness. I have struggled to maintain relationships, even struggled with being a father, can you even imagine what it is like to be scared to bond with your own children.
And let us remember those who never 'made their lives' but chose to end them.

4. 'Now, I understand, they are asking for 'compensation' by which I assume they mean money'.

I wanted an apology, not some half cocked heartless excuse for one but a real one. I wanted someone to stand up and say 'we believe you and we are sorry' As that has not been forthcoming from those in power I felt I had no choice but to pursue compensation.
No amount of money can compensate for the years of pain!

5. 'Why do other people i.e.the taxpayers,have to give them money and for what purpose?'

Haut De La Garenne - Run by the States of Jersey
Staff at HDLG - employed by the States of Jersey
States of Jersey - elected and employed by you the taxpayer

Need I say anymore.

I urge you to take up the offer by the JCLA and actually talk to survivors like me and then maybe, just maybe you will begin to understand.

A proud Survivor

Friday, 2 September 2011

Ill-informed views on care leavers

From Carrie Modral, chairman, Jerssey 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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