10 August 2013
Not as far as you think.........
I've been following the unfolding story of historic sexual abuse at Fort Augustus school with something approaching a morbid curiosity. Not that I'm totally disinterested - my father was a pupil there in the 1920's. Sadly, the stories of abuse don't really surprise me, as I am also unsurprised at the Catholic establishment's efforts to cover-up the scandal whenever it threatened to become public. But the real issue is that the victims, in this process of cover-up, were doubly victimised, firstly by the pedophiles themselves then again by the establishment which put its own reputation before the health and wellbeing of the victims.
Abuse of all sorts, it seems, will be condoned whenever and wherever there are organisations or individuals who have an investment in maintaining what they see as the 'status quo'. Over the last couple of years we have seen a parade of scandals ranging from hospital trusts which covered up uncomfortable statistics to police forces which placed the responsibility for events on others to deflect criticism from themselves.
And then, of course, there is Somerton with its own abuse scandal although that one was an 'abuse of public funds' but it all comes from the same culture. When things go wrong, close ranks, suppress discussion, do everything possible to blame the victims, whatever you do, don't admit guilt.
And what sort of message does that send to society at large? Does it encourage the individual to believe in our institutions? I don't think so. Does it encourage the individual to believe in 'right' and 'wrong'? I don't think so. Does it encourage the individual to speak out against abuses? I don't think so.
So Fort Augustus, on the banks of Loch Ness, isn't really all that far from Somerton, or from Threadneedle Street or from everyone's front room.