Friday, 17 September 2010

WAS THIS A FORM OF SEXUAL ABUSE?


In recent years, the news media have exposed many egregious cases of sexual child abuse in residential schools and orphanages. Citizens rightfully felt shocked at these revelations of heinous acts perpetrated by adults upon innocent children who had absolutely no choice in the matter. In Some institutions, such as Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind, even the children abused their younger dorm mates. When 350 deaf alumni and students sued the British Columbia government, Jericho was permanently closed.

We blind students were fortunate in that we could communicate with our parents, giving the perverts pause that they might be found out. Even so, we experienced a few disturbing incidents that might possibly be regarded as sexual abuse by today's public standards. From Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), here's one instance which I witnessed in September of 1966. To paraphrase Fox News, I write -- you decide.

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Conditions in the dorm remained the same that autumn. Mrs. Parker was her usual domineering self. She demanded that I sleep in the little boys room again, and the food at the Dining Hall had not improved. In addition, we continued to lack privacy during the evening hours. For example, she periodically watched us bathe, ostensibly to prevent dawdling.

After supper one day, Mrs. Parker ordered everybody to shower as quickly as possible, instead of using the tubs. Because the single stall allowed for only one child at a time, we took turns. As we stood naked in the Tub Room, she positioned herself next to the stall and watched with the curtain drawn. Any boy who loitered was immediately chided.

When my turn came, I tried to wash my body as fast as Mrs. Parker demanded. As I did so, a stream of hot water hit my right pectoral in a sensitive spot. "Oh, my tit!" I exclaimed involuntarily.

"How dare you swear!" Mrs. Parker exploded. "Get out of here! Out! Go to your bedroom!" she ordered. I obeyed and stood, dripping and shivering, by my bed.

A minute later she called me back to the Tub Room door and gruffly handed me a towel. "Of course, you have to drip water all over the place. Why can't you use your head?" she complained.

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Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Click here to read more about this book and to order it. You may also e-mail me directly for more information.