Girl of 6 repeatedly sexually abused by 23 classmates

A horrified mum told yesterday how her six-year-old daughter was repeatedly stripped and sexually abused at school – by 23 of her classmates.

The terrified girl was attacked every day in the school grounds by a mob of pupils her own age – under the noses of unsuspecting teachers.

The mum said: “It was horrendous what she went through. Every day she was being stripped.

“She was being physically and sexually abused every day.

“And every day she cried out for help and nobody every came.”

When she raised the alarm the school and local council investigated – but ruled the attackers could not be punished or expelled because they were beneath the age of criminal responsibility.

The mum said: “They said the children couldn’t be suspended because though they had sexually abused my daughter they were only six years old, so they were victims themselves.”

The girl’s ordeal only came to light when the mum was tipped off by a parent whose child had been similarly abused at the school in Wales.

She then gently coaxed her distressed daughter to reveal what had been going on. The mum said: “I will never forget the look on her face. Her eyes were like marbles of fear. I said ‘It’s OK, you can tell mammy’. And then it all started to come out.

“She was telling me things I think every mother dreads to hear.”

The local authority group that investigated was yesterday accused of a “shocking failure” by Keith Towler, Children’s Commissioner for Wales.

He added: “The bottom line is the family will never know what happened to their child.”

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Mr Towler also criticised the two years it has taken for the inquiry report to publish its findings and called for reform of the system.

He added: “We cannot find ourselves in the same position again where the system is failing some of our most vulnerable children.”

The report accepted that sexually harmful behaviour had taken place.

But said that with more than 20 children under the age of 10 involved it had been difficult to establish exactly what happened.

It found supervision at the school, which cannot be named for legal reasons was of a high standard. The victim is now at another school.

Neelam Bhardwaja, president of Wales’s social services directors, 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 these children from abusive situations themselves, which they need protecting from?’.”

Opinion: Dr Miriam Stoppard

I’m sure parents will be tutting in disgust at what these six-year-olds did to their classmate. No doubt they’ll be thinking: “I know my child could never do a thing like that.” I’m not so sure.

I think kids this age are capable of all kinds of cruelty. And the main reason they can be so unkind is they haven’t yet developed adult sensibilities.

A very good example is William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies, in which a group of children, marooned on an island without adults, resort to this kind of bullying – and much worse.

The truth is young children have very aggressive instincts without the control mechanisms to govern them, even when a victim becomes upset. And with a large number picking on one child, it can quickly get out of hand as they start to think like a group, not individuals.

Uncomfortable as it makes us feel, I’m also pretty sure the humiliation of this girl has nothing to do with the sexualisation of children, as many claim. Kids can’t understand the mechanics of sex until eight, so these six-year-olds did not see taking her clothes as sexual. They simply wished to humiliate her.

However shocked we feel, we must remember a six-year-old only has a vague sense of right and wrong, and this largely depends on home upbringing.

Above all, we must not see this awful event as a sign of the dreadful state of the UK. Because if our kids are going to the dogs, it’s not society at large that’s to blame, but what happens at home.