Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Carlile Report analysis - 2

The second section of the Carlile report, paragraphs 9 to 14, is titled "The evidence in summary, and my approach to it".

Carlile described how in response to a call for evidence and more general publicity, he was contacted by about 100 people who felt they had a contribution to make. He also mentions that he met the Abbot and headmaster as and when he required, the DfE, the ISI, the monastic community, several of the lay advisers, and some former pupils, both those who were aware of abuses and those who were not.

A wide range of abuses have been described to him, but he has decided not to describe them in detail in the report. His reasons are worth quoting directly.
First, and most important, in my judgment for the effect of what may seem at first sight to be less violent abuse may be just as damaging for the victim as more obviously violent or overt acts. Secondly, it would be wrong for a report on such matters to provide reading material for the prurient and worse.
I think Carlile is right in this. It is one thing for victims who want to bring the matter to public attention to contact the papers or TV news and describe their stories, knowing that publicity will result. It is another for people who have contacted Carlile in confidence to have their accounts described even in paraphrase in the report.

Carlile describes the majority of the abuse described to him consisted of physical punishment carried out in in appropriate ways and circumstances and with sexual motives. That is is far as he goes with descriptions.

Carlile says that it is not appropriate to describe one kind of abuse as "more serious" or "worse" than another. While it might be in a criminal sense in terms of the severity of the sentence an offender might receive, the effect on the victim doesn't map neatly onto this. As he says:
The reality, borne out by some of my correspondents, is that the combination of fear, a sense of guilt, repetition, physical pain, revulsion and knowledge of impropriety may have an extremely damaging effect on future life chances whatever the detail of the abuse.
Carlile's allocation of blame, though this is not the primary purpose of the report, is simple.
Primary fault lies with the abusers, in their abject failure of personal responsibility and self-control, in breach of their sacred vows if monks, and for all in breach of all professional standards and of the criminal law. Secondary fault can be shared by the monastic community, in its lengthy and culpable failure to deal with what at times must have been evident behaviour placing children at risk; and what at all times was a failure to recognise the sinful temptations that might attract some with monastic vocations. Fault lies too with the trustees and the School historically, for their failure to understand and prepare for the possibility of abuse with training and solid procedures for unpalatable eventualities.
Carlile is saying, in clear and simple prose, that the monks knew that there was abuse going on, and they did nothing to stop it.

Carlile described his main purpose as follows.
to use the lessons and failures of the past to ensure that such problems are avoided in the future; and to provide structures to give confidence to pupils, parents and guardians, staff, and anybody else with a legitimate interest in the School in the future.
That's an entirely appropriate objective, one which any right-thinking person would agree with.

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