December 12, 2019

Inquiry will throw spotlight on child migration and independent schools in Scotland

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has outlined its work for 2020, which is likely to result in high profile media coverage and claims.

Now in its third year of activity, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has announced that 2020 will see it focus on two key areas: independent schools back to 1930 and child migration. This could trigger a significant increase in related claims.

The practice of child migration existed in Scotland primarily during the first half of the 20th century. Children in care were migrated mainly to Australia and Canada in the expectation that they would have a better quality of life in these new countries. In reality, though, some were sent to children’s homes, where they suffered abuse, or to farms, where they were used effectively as unpaid labour. From this December through to April 2020, the inquiry will take evidence from individuals who were forcibly migrated and from the organisations who sent and received these children, many of them being religious orders.

The inquiry will examine how children were chosen for migration, whether their parents were informed and, indeed, whether the children themselves were informed of what was happening.

With regard to independent schools, of which Scotland has a number of very high-profile examples, the focus will be on boarding schools. The inquiry will examine allegations of sexual and physical abuse, excessive corporal punishment, emotional abuse and peer on peer bullying. Evidence will be taken from those who suffered abuse and the current heads of these institutions.

In all likelihood, this will lead to some high-profile media coverage and an increase in claims against schools and religious organisations – though it should be said that we are already seeing claims of this nature.

Read the rest of our insurance predictions here.