In yet another ghastly case of child abuse, a six-year-old girl has been routinely bullied and sexually assaulted by 23 fellow students in a Welsh school.
The worst part of the story was that no action was taken even after the school authorities came to know of the incidents - for the children were all under the age of criminal responsibility. They were not even removed from the school.
AdvertisementSordid details of the case emerged during a review by the provincial government.
The governmental review was published two years after the allegations of abuse first emerged - only after the girl's mother took legal action. Authorities accepted that sexually-harmful behaviour had taken place.
Keith Towler, Wales' children's commissioner, described the case of the abused primary school girl, who has not been named, as a "shocking failure".
The mother, who has since moved her daughter to a school in another area, today told BBC Breakfast that she was horrified to discover her daughter had endured months of bullying and abuse in school after, she said, she had been warned about what was happening by another mother whose daughter was also being abused.
The woman said: "She was telling me things that I think every mother dreads to hear from their daughter. It was horrendous what she'd gone through.
"Every day she was being stripped. She was being physically and sexually abused every day."
The girl's family said their daughter was failed by the school and by the system which took so long for something to be done.
Mr Towler told BBC that teachers needed on-going training to better recognise such incidents and the serious case review system in Walescould be changed to help prevent similar failures in the future.
"We are going to review the serious case review process in Wales to make sure they are much more timely published, within a year of incidents happening, so that we get really clear for everybody involved, what happened, why it happened and what we need to do to put things right," he said.
But local authorities maintained that the case review had been a robust one and said the school had received excellent inspections before and after the case.
Directors of Social Services in Wales president Neelam Bhardwaja said: "If there are these number of children involved, it begs the questions, "Where did that behaviour arise from? Why are these children behaving in this way, and are they from abusive situations themselves, which they need protecting from?"
She said an examination of the serious case review process in Wales had been going on for the last three months and was due to be completed by June.
She said it would be looking at the overall process, not the investigation in to the six-year-old's case.
A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said it took "its roles and responsibilities around the safeguarding of children very seriously."
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