Wednesday, 9 July 2008

20 years on from the Cleveland Child Sex Abuse Scandal

Full Story:

TWENTY years ago the Butler-Sloss report on the Cleveland Child Sex Abuse Crisis was published. Here the Evening Gazette takes a look back at the crisis which rocked Teesside, speaks to some of those caught up in the crisis, and looks at the results of the Butler-Sloss inquiry. CHILD SEX ABUSE HORROR, screamed the Gazette headline. Sexual abuse of children in Cleveland has reached such horrifying proportions 24 youngsters were being treated in Middlesbrough General Hospital on just one day, the reports first paragraph read. Physical and sexual abuse of children in the county had increased dramatically and beyond all bounds. The statement was made at a South Cleveland Community Health Council meeting. The then director of social services Michael Bishop was asked if the hospital was the right place for the children to be. Mr Bishop told the meeting the consultant had not been willing to discharge them. That consultant was Dr Marietta Higgs - a name that can still send some Teessiders blood cold 20 years on. Before the story was published the number of articles regarding child abuse in the Gazette had been steadily increasing. Six weeks later and for the next 18-months the paper was running virtually daily updates on the saga, as the nightmare that would become known as the Cleveland Child Sex Abuse Scandal began to unfold. Between February and July of 1987 121 children on Teesside were taken from their families and placed in care.

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