Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Child migration

A few more words

A long story

Gordon Brown's apology was made of course on behalf of 'the Government' (presumably his own, rather than that of 1920, or before).

Child migration from this country began with transportation of the first hundred street children to the colony of Virginia, back to 1619. Colonial labour shortages soon developed a trade in kidnapping, in effect 'white slavery', from England and Scotland.. The American War of Independence put an end to this trade and soon Britain turned its eyes to Australia as a suitable place to dump its undesirables and otherwise unwanted citizens. Cape Colony also served. So did the West indies and New Zealand. Then came Canada.

In 1881 Dr Barnardo, the colossus of British child care in the late nineteenth century, came in on this in a big way, the charity that he founded shipping twenty-thousand children to Canada by the nineteen-thirties.

Times change

The child emigration movement tailed off in the years after the Second War, the last nine children being flown out to Australia by Barnardo's in 1967. In Australia the Child Migrant Trust was formed by Margaret Humphreys, in 1987.

Times change, but they change slowly and often in the teeth of established opposition. It has taken Margaret Humphreys and the Trust another twenty-two years to get where they are today.

Some of you who read these words in the former colonies and dominions (not just Australia) might have a personal link to all this: child-migrant blood in your veins. But nearly everyone who reads this words should think of a different kind of link: Margaret Humphreys started her work in 1986, a pivotal date in the history of Conductive Education.

How far has her cause advanced over the subsequent years. How far has yours?

History gets lost

As proposed in yesterday's posting on this topic, Gordon Brown's apology has been far too good a story to be distracted by wider contextualisation, including the historical perspective.

Barnardo's was in the news today, but not about its role in child migration. It was creating intense and much-needed media attention attention to to the problem of widespread trafficking of hapless teenagers for sex (in effect, slave-trading) within the United Kingdom. Also far too good a story for anyone to be distracted by other matters.

It seems a pity not to mention Barnardo's role in child migration here, and not alsoto refer to another context in which the historical role of Barnardo's has dropped out of history, Banardo's and ours.

Yes, in the late nineteen-eighties and on through the nineties, Barnardos' payed a vital and unsung role in the battle to get Conductive Education established in the United Kingdom... another hidden history waiting to be told.

Child migration: a useful summary

Two previous 'Sorry' postings

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