The operator of this non-commercial website is the highly motivated community-minded Martin Mitchell from Australia (himself an instititionalised and abused minor in church institutions in the former West Germany)

( 01.09.2004 )

[ Institutional child abuse in the UK ]

Forgotten Children - The Secret Abuse Scandal in Children's Homes
ISBN: 1901250474 - Vision Paperbacks, October 2000
Pages: 240 / 276

book review extracted from

"There isn’t a photo of me before I was 14. It’s as if I didn’t exist. Children in children’s homes are suffering from trauma, from shock… They are used to the unexpected and sexual abuse is unexpected." ‘John’.

In the 1960s and 1970s, children’s departments were abolished and social workers all became generalists who had clients across the spectrum of need. As a result, thousands more children were taken into care by local authorities and many of them were put into children’s homes. Disaster ensued, with a high proportion of them being abused and mistreated by those charged with looking after them. The legacy of this disaster is still being felt; major police investigations have been launched across the country and many are ongoing.

Why did it happen? Despite several official investigations, none have attempted to explain the underlying causes of institutional abuse and offered a coherent explanation of what happened. Forgotten Children is the ground-breaking first book to aim to do so.

Forgotten Children charts the history of children’s homes [in the UK], how they were neglected over the years and [run], with untrained and sometimes unsuitable staff, why they became preying grounds for paedophiles. Many institutions thought it in the best interests of the children to keep their parents at bay, forbidding letter writing and visits. So there was no one to turn to. It also shows how changes in [the UK] social services provision in the 1970s helped to create the disaster.

It looks, too, at the widespread abuse which took place in homes run by religious orders and gives a previously unheard voice to many of the victims. The book then also follows the children’s claims for compensation, the issues over false claims of abuse and suggests ways to prevent a re-occurrence of the scandal.

Author Christian Wolmar analyses the roles of the institutions which ‘allowed’ this scandal to sweep the country: local authorities and charities that let abuse go unchecked in their homes; central government, which failed to heed the warning signs; the police who initially ignored all complaints; the social workers who did not listen to the children.

The legacy of these scandals reaches beyond their immediate victims, many of whom are too traumatised to lead functional lives or have even committed suicide; prisons are full of the former residents of children’s homes whose crimes have, in turn, created a raft of new victims.

Forgotten Children includes interviews with victims, care workers, lawyers and police, presenting a gripping critique of children’s care in the 1970s and 1980s and shedding light on the underlying causes of institutional abuse.

Christian Wolmar's book is sponsored by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which publishes research into social issues. After writing Forgotten Children, Christian submitted evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Adoption and Children Bill [UK].

What they said about Forgotten Children...

'Forgotten Children is the standard work on the child-abuse scandals of the Nineties' .
The Observer

'[Forgotten Children] . This remarkable book is a tribute to the honesty of the author.' .
The Catholic Herald

'[Forgotten Children] . A fascinating study of institutional child abuse.' .
Julie Bindel . The Guardian

'[Forgotten Children] . If you are in any way affected by child sexual abuse, this book is a must read. Absolute essential reading. The truth as it is and was.' .
Shy Keenan . Phoenix Survivors

'[Forgotten Children] . Essential background reading' .
Peter Garsden . Family Law Journal

'As the journalist Christian Wolmar makes clear ... the magnitude of this scandal has never really been confronted, not by the courts, the press, nor the public. And despite all the inquiries and prosecutions that have occurred in the past few years, it would be pretty implausible to suggest that kids in care homes are just fine now, no abuse still goes on, children are still disbelieved, support is still patchy and prosecutions [of alleged abusers] too few and far between.'
The Independent

'The horror and sheer cruelty of institutional child abuse are well described, and rightly connected to our attitudes towards children in general. The history of children’s homes, from the workhouse to the present day, and the influences of politics, religion, legislation and the Poor Laws are particularly interesting, showing up the coercive nature of child care and the very uncomfortable parallels between past and present. Wolmar argues passionately for the humane treatment of children, cataloguing both the personal and societal consequences of neglect and cruelty... Any work that furthers knowledge of child abuse is welcome... Wolmar admits his is ‘an outsider’s view’. Outsiders, however, often have the clearer vision.'
Community Care

'The book [Forgotten Children] is a welcome investigation into the abuse of children in residential care. It brings together previously scattered information about police investigations around Britain into allegations of sexual and other abuse of children in residential care... It is by a well informed journalist, well written, and made interesting and readable.'
Ebay customer review

'Personally, I found the accounts of serial offenders who got away with their evil acts year after year the most distressing aspect of this book [Forgotten Children]. Society put these children out of their sight with no intention to check that they were alright. Anyone could get a job in a children's home; nobody thought it worthwhile to check their credentials; and nobody heard the children's cries for help.'
Frank Golding . CLAN member . Australia

© Copyright 2004 Christian Wolmar (or his publisher, as the case may be)

Book review extracted from

[ Date of first publication on this Website: 1 September 2004 ]

Subindex No. 1

DW WORLD.DE - DEUTSCHE WELLE on 23.01.2009 in English ( Sabina Casagrande reporting )
( relating to the former West-Germany ) »Abused Wards Of The State Demand Reparations In Germany«
An apology and compensation are long overdue

( The current CDU/SPD Government of the German Federal Republic, however, is dragging its feet. )

News in brief in the German news-magazine FOCUS, Munich the 12 August 2007:
»The Association of Former Wards of the State [ of the former West-Germany ] /
Former Institutionalised Children / Care-Leavers-Survivors demand compensation -
"The firms that made use of institutional child labour ( "unpaid forced labour" ) have to pay"« -
announced the lawyer for the victims, Munich
human rights lawyer Michael Witti.

Media reports pertaining to an Australian compensation case indexed by GOOGLE:
Court Judgment:
Compensation for Aborigine of the "Stolen Generation":

Judgment of The Honourable Justice Gray - 1 August 2007

Former wards of the state take the initiative.
German care-leavers-survivors take Government to task.
The German Federal Government is being challenged to answer the following simple question:
Ehemalige Heimkinder stellen eine sehr einfache Frage an die Deutsche Bundesregierung:

Legitimate critical observations by the Australian operator, Martin Mitchell, of the
cum postwar German history site Care-Leavers
@ with regard to specific human rights violations -
extra-judicial incarceration and "forced labour" and the profiteering therefrom
by the postwar West-German State
, the churches and private enterprise
(between ca 1945 - 1975) - which should concern us all.

Absolute prohibition of all forms of forced labour / compulsory labour !, or not ?
Was "forced labour" / "compulsory labour" / "work therapy" /
"indoctrination by toil" / "labour discipline" / "pressganged labour"
"hiring out of involuntary labour" / "forcing people to work without pay" ever permitted
in the Federal Republic of Germany, or not? Was it ever permitted in the 1950s, the 1960s,
the 1970s and the 1980?
Is it permitted in the Federal Republic of Germany today?

The use of and the profiteering from forced labour are crimes under international law and they
constitute a serious violation of human rights and an unlawful curtailment of human freedoms.

German wards of the state / institutionalised children used as slave labourers (in the former
West Germany
) demand adequate compensation and the making of appropriate amends;
they don't want to be "paid off" / "to be bribed henceforth to keep quiet"; no "compromise" !

Deutsche Heimkinder / Kindersklaven verlangen eine anständige Entschädigung und
Wiedergutmachung; keine "Abfindung" / "kein Schweigegeld", keinen "Kompromiss" !

Horrific (hidden) POSTWAR GERMAN HISTORY unearthed !!!
Justice at last for abused wards of the state being detained
and slave laboured in ‘institutional care’ in
(West) Germany
by church and state
(a couple of million of them between 1945-1975+;
the exact number has not as yet been able to be determined).

However, whether these victims will in fact obtain justice remains to be seen.


Mary Raftery and Eoin O'Sullivan – First published in 1999 – ISBN 0-8264-1337-4 – (425 pages).
Well-researched non-fictional documentary-type account of Irish institutional child abuse –
in this case perpetrated almost solely by Catholic orders of religion in institutions run for profit
and enrichment of themselves, and to the total disregard of the needs of the children in their ‘care’.

Forgotten Children – The Secret Abuse Scandal in Children's Homes.
[ Institutional child abuse in the UK ]
Author Christian Wolmar – Vision Paperbacks . October 2000.

Visit also “Ehemalige Heimkinder” (former Wards of the State) Blog @

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