Children in Sisters of Nazareth Homes Were Beaten and Sexually Abused

The abuse was perpetrated over 50 years

A judge-led official inquiry discovered thousands of children from four homes administered by Sisters of Nazareth (SoN) were subjected to humiliation and sexual abuse. There were times when the children of both sexes staying in Lasswade, Aberdeen, Kilmarnock, and Cardonald were forced to endure degrading emotional abuse, systematic violence and sexual abuse which authorities described as of “utmost depravity.” Children were abused by the Catholic order for more than 50 years, from 1933 to 1984. The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry published its findings on May 30.

One survivor recalled to the inquiry board of priests raping her, and a nun repeatedly abusing her at the Kilmarnock Nazareth House. Another witness said that a girl was left with no choice but to jump from as building to her death after a nun “battered” her. The inquiry was soon filled up by a narrative of alleged abuses perpetrated by nuns at the now-defunct four institutions. The list of abuses included humiliation, physical abuse, and force-feeding.

Lady Smith, the chair of Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, said Scotland’s Nazareth Houses were for most children, places of confusion, fear, and hostility and locations where children were systematically subjected to emotional degradation and physical abuse. She pointed out that children need kind and warm, loving care which SoN never provided. The children were instead deprived of comfort, compassion, dignity, and care. The inquiry collected evidence from a total of 39 witnesses concerning their experiences during their time in the Nazareth Houses. The study was done over 27 days, and two witnesses spoke about the experiences suffered by their family member. She found the order imposed a culture derived on abuse, obedience, and intolerance.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry report was 140 pages long. Lady Smith, in her second summary, mentioned particular institutions, and the detailed cases of persistent sexual abuse of both sexes at all the four homes. One nun was explicitly mentioned, who facilitated a girl being abused by priests. The children were routinely punished by using hairbrushes, belts, sticks, crucifixes, broom handles, and canes. The inquiry also revealed those children who wet their beds were beaten and had to wear the stained sheets. Children were force-fed even when the food they were having was vomited back up, and runaways suffered beatings if they returned.


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