Salvation Army abuse: Boys ‘punched and locked in cages’ at homes, royal commission told

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The royal commission into child sexual abuse has heard harrowing details of small boys being dragged from their beds and raped within children's homes operated by the Salvation Army.

On Tuesday the commission began its fifth inquiry, this time examining cases of abuse at four boys' homes operated by the prominent charity.

Some of the evidence presented today shocked even some survivors and their advocates, including the caging of children, punishment parades, and appalling Dickensian conditions.

The hearing is investigating incidents at the Alkira Salvation Army Home for Boys at Indooroopilly in Queensland, the Riverview Training Farm at Riverview in Queensland, the Bexley Boys' Home in Sydney, and the Gill Memorial Home at Goulburn in southern New South Wales.

The actions of at least five Salvation Army officers are set to be scrutinised by the commission, with 13 former residents of the homes expected to give evidence.

Written By: Emily Bourke and Thomas Oriti
continue to source article at abc.net.au

23 COMMENTS

  1. This Royal Commission has more appalling stories since I sent this in. You can find links on the same page that this one links to. The most recent is the renting out of boys for abuse on the weekends.

    Michael

  2. Institutions like this must have been like a magnet for predators in the days when no checks were done on the adults and kids were not believed…..and of course if you happened to be poor you had a much greater chance of encountering this kind of unwanted ‘charity’
    For the last few years the news has been nothing but institutional and religious child abuse revelations and celebrity sexual abuse scandals…its all so sick…but at least a new culture of openness and legal retribution is exposing all the sick cover ups and may deter some future predators….

  3. This is disturbing. I’ve always thought of these people as merely being an organization of marching brass bands who’s main distinguishing features are slightly funnier looking uniforms than other brass ensembles, and a bit more emphasis placed on the tambourine in their arrangements.

  4. The abuse of vulnerable and defenseless children seems to be a recurring theme in religious institutions. Churches create the false illusion that they are above any sort of anti social behaviour and consider themselves to be above the law. It is quite obvious that they actually provide safe refuges for paedophiles etc on a large scale. Perhaps the authorities should set up special police units to audit all religious institutions.

  5. You begin to wonder if all religious organisations simply set up groups that claim to help the disadvantaged, but are nothing other than an opportunity for mental and physical abuse.

  6. At least the Salvos have unreservedly apologiesed, cooperated with authorities and paid compensation before they were shamed into it by the media (all of which are clever PR on their part, and is not an excuse for their behavior)

    The Catholics have shown how to create an even worse PR disaster, with arrogance and hubris which is astounding even by their standards. Consider these nuggets of gold from the Marist Brothers in the Commission on 24 January:

    *The boys said Brother Murrin had touched them on the chest and stomach in their dormitories at night.Fellow Marist Brothers who worked at the school have told the commission they did not think the behaviour constituted “abuse”.The leader of the Marist Brothers in Australia, Jeffrey Crowe, has now revealed to the inquiry that Murrin remains in the order. He says no formal steps have been taken to dismiss the man.”We have put to Brother Murrin that we think this is the time for a serious conversation on his future,” Brother Crowe told the commission.“For a Brother to be dismissed is a process, which would involve quite a bit of paperwork.” *

    By now you would think that Brother Crowe would have buried his foot so deep down his throat that his lips were touching his hip, but no, there is more and it gets worse:

    He [Crowe] has conceded that in the early 1980s he did not know that touching the genitals of children was considered “sexual assault”.”I’m not sure that the word ‘crime’ would have come into my mind,” he said.

    What in the name of flying fuck is this man doing anywhere near any position of responsibility, let alone one involving children (around 40,000 students attend Marist Brothers schools and institutions across Australia, with the number steadily growing)?

    Source

  7. I must say it’s harrowing listening to the news here in Australia. This royal commission into child abuse has lifted the floorboards and found a host of vermin. It seems like a new infestation is discovered weekly. And it always seems to be a religious organisation. One very troubling thing, though, is why the hell has it taken this long for these cases to come out? Oh yeah ……….. the churches have been battling hard to cover their asses for decades. A lot of people here view the Salvos as a decent organisation that does a lot of good. Many people I know will donate to the Salvos when they wouldn’t dream of giving to any other religious charity. Those opinions may change. I know I won’t be seeing them in the same light ever again.

  8. I find this news rather odd. A religious body abusing children is appalling, do not get me wrong but there are secular institutions who have been accused of the same thing. The only reason this is on the web site is because it is a religious body. There is good and bad in all of us. I have a respect for the Salvation Army and yes, if true, they made a horrible mistake. I am an Atheist so don’t put the religious people all in the boat.

    • This is the crux of the situation. These people in charge have been ordained or called by God to do his work. That’s what differentiates them from secular institutions, It is seen as part of God’s plan. What sort of God would call people to abuse innocent children in his name? You can’t claim to walk with God or have the purest form of religion and then commit these acts. Why shouldn’t we question the religious claims of an omniscient and omnipotent being when his devotees commit these horrific crimes? In the end, religious or not, a crime like this should be severely punished and i welcome the Royal Commission.

    • In reply to #8 by ikinmoore:

      I find this news rather odd. A religious body abusing children is appalling, do not get me wrong but there are secular institutions who have been accused of the same thing. The only reason this is on the web site is because it is a religious body.

      If being an ordained senior member of a religious body is not some sort of assurance that these people live their lives by a moral code which is substantially better than the average layman, then what is the point of religion?

      This is far worse than the “one bad apple” argument. Catholics at least have claimed – as if it were some virtue – that as a percentage of the population, their priests are no worse than the general population. Not even a tiny bit. So if you want moral guidance you might just as well ask some random stranger of the bus.

    • In reply to #8 by ikinmoore:

      I find this news rather odd. A religious body abusing children is appalling, do not get me wrong but there are secular institutions who have been accused of the same thing. The only reason this is on the web site is because it is a religious body. There is good and bad in all of us. I have a respect for the Salvation Army and yes, if true, they made a horrible mistake. I am an Atheist so don’t put the religious people all in the boat.

      You don’t think there might be some connection between holding conservative Christian attitudes towards human sexuality and thinking children suffer from “original sin” and these kinds of abuses?

      The Salvo’s still hold very conservative attitudes towards sex and persist in not letting homosexuals become full members of the organisation.

      Michael

    • In reply to #8 by ikinmoore:

      …there are secular institutions who have been accused of the same thing.

      Yes, Catholic schools and churches and the YMCA are all secular institutions enjoying privileged status and each have been prominently implicated in the Royal Commission evidence to date.

      Did you imagine ‘secular’ included only taxable entities?

      There is good and bad in all of us.

      Ah yes, everyone else does it, sometimes, somewhere, don’t they?

      This is a squalid variation of Tu quoque and is a particularly poor excuse, invariably deployed by the Vatican and it’s agents. Everybody else does NOT do it. This is distilled, biblical behaviour; a “recurring theme” as Richard01 has pointed out. It is not restricted to institutions harbouring religious perpetrators. Perpetrators are usually religious and conspicuously so. In fact religiosity is the second best predictor of an offender. 9 out of 10 perps are religious. Most religious folk are not offenders, but most offenders are religious.

    • In reply to #8 by ikinmoore:

      I have a respect for the Salvation Army…they made a horrible mistake.

      No they didn’t.

      Renting caged kids for serial sodomy is an egregious crime which ought to be apparent to anyone I think. The Salvos flew children interstate for sex. They sacked any whistle-blowers over the years, illustrating their acute awareness that they weren’t simply “mistaken” in their beliefs.

      I am an Atheist so don’t put the religious people all in the boat.

      Theists usually float the type of defences you’ve attempted here.

      Carolyn Holderread Heggen is a Mennonite (Xtian) psychotherapist who specializes in trauma recovery from sexual abuse. She verifies what Michael (mmurray) has already alluded to when she wrote Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches, finding that drunken parishioners are the profile of who is most likely to sexually abuse kids.

      Michael wrote about the “connection between holding conservative Christian attitudes towards human sexuality and thinking children suffer from “original sin” and these kinds of abuses”. Heggen concurs:

      A disturbing fact continues to surface in sex abuse research. The first best predictor of abuse is alcohol or drug addiction in the father.
      But the second best predictor is conservative religiosity, accompanied by parental belief in traditional male-female roles.
      This means that if you want to know which children are most likely to be sexually abused by their father, the second most significant clue is whether or not the parents belong to a conservative religious group with traditional role beliefs and rigid sexual attitudes.

      Abel and Harlow’s child molestation study found 93% of perpetrators were religiously observant.

    • In reply to #8 by ikinmoore:

      I find this news rather odd. A religious body abusing children is appalling, do not get me wrong but there are secular institutions who have been accused of the same thing. The only reason this is on the web site is because it is a religious body. There is good and bad in all of us. I have a resp…

      There is a kernel of truth in this. Since the great majority of organisations that came into existence looking after children were religious in nature, taking responsibility for the care of orphaned and other children that the state ignored, or more commonly, especially in the case of the salvos, contracted out, the abuse became linked to religion. We forget the wars that created the orphans and unwed mothers, and we forget the social climate that was happy to hide these children away and pretend they did not exist.

      While we deplore the people that did this, under the cloak of religion, we should remember that the culture that ignored them is not blameless.

      • In reply to #19 by Sheepdog:

        While we deplore the people that did this, under the cloak of religion, we should remember that the culture that ignored them is not blameless.

        I agree (coincidentally dragging the subject back to North Wales) I wonder if an article about the abuses in the North Wales care homes would have attracted quite the same amount of attention on this site. However I suspect the point here is that the abuse here was widespread and ignored at many levels within the religious organisation and that is what makes it attractive as a target to this site. However let’s not forget that the children abused in North Wales care homes were equally failed by a system that is essentially secular.

  9. It comes to my mind that the problem is not religion itself (though there are enough problems with religion), but with institutions, especially authoritarian institutions. Institutions such as the Sally Army, the RCC, many police forces, military forces, youth organisations, the BBC, there has been abuse within all of these and many more. These days, and at least in some countries, there is less tolerance and more scrutiny of institutions, and one can only hope this continues. Most importantly there should be no special shelters or exemptions of scrutiny for any institution based on religion, or indeed any other reason.

    • In reply to #10 by SomersetJohn:

      It comes to my mind that the problem is not religion itself (though there are enough problems with religion), but with institutions, especially authoritarian institutions. Institutions such as the Sally Army, the RCC, many police forces, military forces, youth organisations, the BBC, there has been…

      Well said! Religious institutions should never be given the right to opt out of transparency (financial included) and inspections and ethics procedures just because they claim special religious privileges. This includes religious schools. Children are so vulnerable. Anywhere there is a power imbalance and/or the presence of children should always have significant layers of accountability and publicly available records. There have been interesting experiments done into how power imbalances without proper accountability invariably lead to institutional abuse. Some environments are more likely to cause this than others.

      I sincerely hope some good comes of this. Even if it means that any future victims feel more empowered to speak out and those like teachers, social workers and the police get the training they need to deal better with these cases.

  10. There is a worrying thought that there might be a connection between this and the deportation of children from England and Canada to Australia that continued up until the 70s. Charities like the Sally Army were involved in that enterprise.

    • In reply to #13 by veggiemanuk:

      There is a worrying thought that there might be a connection between this and the deportation of children from England and Canada to Australia that continued up until the 70s. Charities like the Sally Army were involved in that enterprise.

      Might be…?? Have you not seen the constant news revealing that very fact….Christian Brothers mission in Australia…watch the Documentary….and multiply by thousands of similar cases….institutional abuse sanctioned by all the governments as well as the religions and so called charities or orphanages…many of the kids were not even orphans but stolen from their very alive parents – both being told they were was dead or similar….

  11. Plausably, the reason we see egregious abuses in religious intutitions at the same rate, if not somewhat more frequently, than non-religious instutions could be the following:

    -Abusers/predators seek positions of authority in these instutions.
    -The reason they seek these kind of religious institutions in particular is because they view it as easier to get away with. This is because the institutions often support authoritarian attutides against children (they are or at least were fine with physical punishment, for example). Thus it is easier for people to look the other way when the punishment becomes more severe into clear-cut abuse. Furthermore, the positions of authority are given a large amount of respect. Thus, any accusations against such people will be more easily dismissed. Finally, they are private institutions. As a result, it is easier to keep things hidden from the general public.

    We thus have a case of predators and abusers seeking out these positions for rational but sociopathic reasons

  12. The school I attended is currently embroiled in a battle with former pupils who allege abuse (I say allege because I do not want to appear biased one way or the other). It is a Methodist boarding school in a seaside town in North Wales. At the time it was generally boys only but it has since merged with a girls boarding school in the same town.

    I genuinely believe the religion had little to do with the abuse, in fact the teachers that have been accused were not those that generally took active part in the religious ceremonies. However we were taught to respect authority (as with most schools I suspect) and being a boarding school there would have been nowhere to run for the abused.

    I have heard that the accusations go right to the top, that senior teachers were involved and then when the incidents were reported no action was taken. It is this lack of action that terrifies me the most. That children have to suffer abuse is bad enough, but when they are then ignored when abuse is reported must just erode any sense of trust in justice that child has.

    At least part of the problem is, of course, self image. The school, religious or not, wants to attract more fee paying parents and talk of child abuse is not a great advert. However for a religious organisation the scandal is worse, surely these pious people are our moral guardians, so having a paedophile in their midst really must strike hard.

    Of course the truth is that paedophiles are often sophisticated criminals and it is no reflection on an organisation that they could not filter them out at interview. What matters most is how they react to the situation. I have suggested to the school that they should ensure that the parents educate their children in combination with the school about who they can turn to if they feel they are being asked to do something they are uncomfortable with. The sad fact is that the schools reaction has been quite muted, but this might just be that they do not wish to discuss school policy with an outsider.

  13. Why is the Christian religion, child molestation and abuse and sodomy so closely related? Is the Christian religion naturally attractive to child molesters? We know it is for misogynists. It is apparently a stinking cess pit right under our noses.

  14. In reply to #3 by IDLERACER:

    This is disturbing. I’ve always thought of these people as merely being an organization of marching brass bands who’s main distinguishing features are slightly funnier looking uniforms than other brass ensembles, and a bit more emphasis placed on the tambourine in their arrangements.

    Yes, that is apparently part of the PR and it has worked. It all seems so benign but we we have all been fooled. It has been so easy to lose sight of the fact that they are a Christian religion and that they are subject to all of its ugliness.

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