Victim Narratives of Historical Abuse in Residential Child Care: Do we really know what we think we know?

Mark Smith (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Dystopian images of children’s remains buried in the cellars of Haut de la Garenne children’s home in the Channel Island of Jersey brought the subject of historical abuse in residential child care graphically to public consciousness over the course of 2008. Subsequent revelations around the provenance of police spin in that case prompt examination of the ways in which knowledge of institutional abuse has been constructed more generally. Drawing on insights from qualitative inquiry, this article seeks to destabilize the subject and to question the epistemological basis for the truth claims made in respect of it. Specifically, it focuses a critical gaze on the Scottish Government’s Systemic Review of Historical Abuse (Shaw, 2007) to highlight how documentary sources construct and reify a particular version of the past and how ‘victim’ narratives are privileged and used to silence other accounts of life in residential child care. Some implications of this for social work research and for those who claim and those accused of historical abuse are identified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-320
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Social Work
Volume9
Issue number3
Early online date27 Aug 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2010

Keywords

  • historical abuse
  • inquiry reports
  • Jersey
  • narrative
  • residential child
  • care
  • Scotland
  • Systemic Review

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