Abuse probe: Girl had nose rubbed in her wet bed

The independent Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry in Banbridge.
The independent Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry in Banbridge.

Had official guidance been followed many cases of abuse would not have arisen, the abuse inquiry heard yesterday.

Christine Smith QC said that a 1952 memo for homes advised that bed wetting could not be attributed to any one cause, citing possible delays in learned bladder control or development.

Other factors could be feelings of not being wanted and related hopelessness in the child, she said.

If cases persisted the child should be seen by medical experts, the memo advised.

However, the inquiry has had reports from former home residents that from 1952 until during the 1970s children were being punished for wetting beds, she said.

One woman in residential care from 1971 until 1976 told the inquiry that when she wet the bed she had her nose rubbed in it before being stripped naked in a cold room where she had to bathe in cold water with Jeyes fluid.

Ms Smith yesterday detailed legal developments in the field. By 1950 legislation required defined standards of accommodation and staff training. In 1967 it became an offence to fail to report criminality to police.

In 1975 Sir Harold Black’s report recommended reforms which were seen as progressive but which were not widely adopted. By 1982 a more children’s rights approach was taken.

In 1995 legislation forbade all corporal punishment or the removal of food, drink or communications with family as punitive measures.

Ms Smith recommended that the inquiry probe the standards and chastisement culture of the eras.