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Childhood trauma - AIBU to think that the past was a dreadful time to be a kid?

(77 Posts)
shareacokewithnoone Sun 10-Aug-14 18:40:56

I haven't thought this through logically really but from a mishmash of ideas - I was born in the early 1980s and corporal punishment was abolished in schools but gosh, I remember some nasty, sarky teachers. I remember one boy being made to stand in the corner and when he cried being told 'turn around, no one wants to see your ugly face!' (this was in RECEPTION!) That's one example, but there are countless more.

Pre 1960s (?) children were smacked pretty brutally - not just a tap on the bum but pants pulled down and smacked repeatedly? Humiliating as well as very painful, surely?

Children were sent to hospitals alone, and I don't know 'put up and shut up' was the order of the day. We had a teacher who used to touch us inappropriately but none of us girls would have DREAMED of challenging it or telling - you just didn't. And this was early 1990s.

I guess - AIBU to think it's really only the last decade where safeguarding and child protection have emerged? And what brought it on?

dimsum123 Sun 10-Aug-14 18:51:32

YANBU. I have never really thought of it like that. But you are so right.

I was abused at home. As a result I behaved badly at school (after the abuse started so around yr5/6, prior to that I was very well behaved). I got in trouble at school (in the 70's).

These days perhaps the teachers might have thought to look for the cause of my sudden bad behaviour. And maybe something might have been done about the abuse.

Nohootingchickenssleeping Sun 10-Aug-14 18:54:08

I had a school teacher who was awful to kids. Used to hit you with a wooden board rubber. Once put chalk dust all over a kid's face with the same board rubber. Made me stand in a corner for three hours on one leg once. This too was early 90's.

Fairylea Sun 10-Aug-14 19:02:02

I think you're right op. I'm not sure why things have changed so much... I think perhaps there has been a move towards recognising children are people too rather than a sort of separate entity if that makes any sense... Thankfully so! Why that has happened though I'm not entirely sure. <scratches head>

I do know a lot of people started to speak out about the abuse in children's homes in the 1980s. I remember a lot of tv reports about it and my parents being horrified.

At the same time I was being force fed at school and being violently sick even before it got to lunch time with the fear of it.

Very weird times.

I still can't eat certain things now because of it and the thought of that awful teacher shouting at me.

Anyway... yes I do think there has been a real shift into giving children a voice and protecting the rights of children in the last decade. Lots more to go though.

capant Sun 10-Aug-14 19:08:25

I was in hospital for a week at 3 years old. My parents were only allowed to visit for two hours a day at visiting times. My mum said walking away and hearing me screaming was really hard. I was discharged earlier than I was supposed to be, because I refused to eat anything except during the time my parents visited.

bearfrills Sun 10-Aug-14 19:18:43

I was also born in the early 80s.

I remember at boy at primary school who was 'a naughty boy', completely wild and totally unable to cope with school or any sort of structured activity but all done with a huge smile on his face. That's how I remember him, "naughty" but really happy. In hindsight I think nowadays he'd be recognised as either ASD or ADHD but back then it was just classed as him being badly behaved. I remember a teacher sitting him on the floor in front of her "right here, in front of my foot so that I can give you a kick if you need one". I also remember once he was made to go from classroom to classroom, until he'd been around the whole school. At every classroom he had to tell the teacher he was there because he had been naughty and was going round all the classrooms to tell then this, he then had to stand at the front of the class and tell us all what he was in trouble for (I can't remember what it was now) and that he was "very naughty and a waste of Mrs xxxxx's time".

I remember teachers throwing chalk at children and one teacher who totally lost his temper and threw a blackboard eraser across the room.

We went on a weekend away in primary school and the last day was a group hike. We split into two groups and lord knows who did the risk assessments for it all buy our group didn't even have a map! Off we trooped, into the wilds surrounding Langdon Beck, following the teacher, a dozen ten year olds with not a speck of hiking equipment in sight - not even a waterproof coat. Naturally we got lost and ended up completely doubling over on ourselves. We ended up having to climb 200 feet down Cauldron Snout waterfall wearing jeans and trainers with the teacher urging us to "just hurry up!"

meltedmonterayjack Sun 10-Aug-14 19:29:44

YANBU. There seems to be this whole nostalgia about the 50/60's being more wholesome times where kids were free to play out all day wherever they fancied and pleasures were simple and life was generally less stressful for kids.

This was definitely not the experience of the 50/60's my brothers and I had. School was hell. We were slapped (on the face as well!) for giving wrong answers, not knowing/remembering something. We were made to sit with our hands on our head for the rest of a lesson if we yawned and were then told to get an early night. I was slapped for the following reasons: getting 5 + 8 wrong; going the wrong way in country dancing; not remembering my tables; crying when I'd been told off and humiliated in front of the class; smudging my writing (no left handed nibs for pens back then).

Kids with additional needs often went undiagnosed and were labelled 'thick', 'lazy' and were teased/bullied by both staff and kids alike sad I missed masses of school due to ill health and there was no help catching up with what you'd missed. I literally fell through the net in maths/science as I just couldn't fill in the gaps.

We wouldn't have even thought, let alone dared, to complain about the bullying we received at school. There was no anti-bullying policy, no racial or sexual equality and definitely you knew that as I child you were powerless. They were hard, cold and bloody miserable times for a lot of children.

indigo18 Sun 10-Aug-14 19:31:45

Well, I dunno. I had a happy childhood despite there being little money, corporal punishment, etc. No one we knew was very well off and it was the norm to put your overcoat on your bed in the winter for extra warmth, to wake up to ice on the windows, walk to school a mile and a half each way at age four, with my six year old sister. Slaps on the back of the leg with a ruler were the order of the day for poor work at school. But we had fun and made the most of what treats we got; bottle of pop on a Sunday or a penny for sweets.
it was different, but not all bad!

Namechangearoonie123 Sun 10-Aug-14 19:35:54

All of it still happens now. sad

There are still bullies, still schools who don't deal with it, still horrible teachers they can't get rid of, and horrible kids who threaten teachers. There are still dodgy coppers and scout masters and uncles who touch you up.

It was ever thus and all the legislation and nspcc campaigns change nothing.

If people really want to know they should ask a teenager.

One of the children I look after has awful stories and not just about her parents and previous foster carers but tales about other adults who thought they could get away with inappropriate behaviour because she's in care.

indigo18 Sun 10-Aug-14 19:36:56

I started teaching in the 70s and there was still corporal punishment then. One teacher was renowned for not using corporal punishment, preferring to talk to the boys (girls were rarely if ever hit by then) and reason with them. They hated this and would plead for the 'slipper' - actually a size 10 plimsoll - instead of a 15 minute chat.

Namechangearoonie123 Sun 10-Aug-14 19:41:28

Still had corporal punishment when I was little too.

My headmistress took my pants down in front of the class aged 4 and belted me with a 3 forked leather belt.

I had the belt 4 times at Primary school, she once belted the whole class!

meltedmonterayjack Sun 10-Aug-14 19:46:06

Namechange shock. sad

BeerTricksPotter Sun 10-Aug-14 19:46:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Namechangearoonie123 Sun 10-Aug-14 19:51:04

It's also a really dangerous thought, that it was worse 'back then'

It makes us become more casual about now as we think children are safer.

The fact remains that a member of your family is most likely to abuse your child, someone you love and trust.

Liara Sun 10-Aug-14 19:53:39

I was born in the 70s.

I had some really bad experiences at school, and encountered things which would now be utterly unacceptable. Sexual harassment was par for the course when I was a teenager. I lost count of the number of times I was groped, let alone verbally harassed.

BUT...we also had a lot more freedom. Our parents just did not live in fear of something happening to us, so we were able to use public transport alone from an early age, play in the street unsupervised, and do loads of things which would now have other parents calling the social services. Sometimes bad things happened to us, they did to me, but I got over them, as did most of the people I know (I recognise that many did not).

We can't go back, it was a sort of innocence which once lost can not be regained, but for most of us most of the time it wasn't actually a dreadful time at all.

shareacokewithnoone Sun 10-Aug-14 20:00:22

I certainly don't think molestation and abuse are things of the past but where I do think we have made massive steps forward is the sense that as someone has said, children are seen as people.

I loved my parents; we had a good relationship, but just the same I don't think I would have told them had someone been abusing me. I do remember being hit by a teacher (for a really stupid reason - and that was actually illegal then) and not telling by parents because I thought I'd been naughty and was ashamed. Children nowadays seem more likely to speak up.

I dislike the 'freedom' that is often lauded as a positive. I think (know) it was extremely dangerous.

BeerTricksPotter Sun 10-Aug-14 20:06:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Peacocklady Sun 10-Aug-14 20:09:49

Going back, can you imagine in Victorian times being a child down a mine in the pitch black pushing coal through tiny tunnels for hours a day, barely seeing daylight? For little or no money?

BMW6 Sun 10-Aug-14 20:10:14

Hmm - I was born in 1958 and wouldn't describe childhood then as that awful actually.

Yes we were poor, but so was just about everyone else post WW2. No CH so freezing cold in winter, TV broadcast only a few hours a day (and only a couple of TV channels). Sweets were a once a week treat bought from sixpence a week pocket money. Pop only at Xmas (water or milk the rest of the year, occasional lemonade powder in Summer).

Teachers were strict (as were adults) and some were vile. Education was highly valued and teachers commaded respect (even if they were one of the vile ones), but I was never given corporal punishment cos I was a good girl! Children did as they were told and would never dream of telling an adult to F Off (as is so common now - well round here anyway).

What we did have was an innocence and a freedom which I think has been lost now. Jeez, Mum used to make us each a sandwich, wrapped in greasproof paper (often the inside of a cornflakes packet), a bottle of water, and we'd be out all day playing in the woods about 5 mins walk from home. Sometimes we were given a potato and we buiklt a bonfire in the woods to bake the spuds in. This is from age 7....

Can you imagine today's children being allowed to do that grin. Social Services would probably be called.....!!

All in all I think I prefer the childhood I had.

shareacokewithnoone Sun 10-Aug-14 20:11:30

Like I said, I don't pretend it's in any way a logical, well reasoned or thoroughly thought through post grin Just a musing, a 'you know, things HAVE changed.'

Sometimes I forget I'm old! grin

Actually I think a lot of the 'changes' or shifts in thinking came after the two little girls were killed in Soham. I suppose it was a stark reminder predators can be handsome, familiar, smiling people.

shareacokewithnoone Sun 10-Aug-14 20:12:52

Peacock - I know! Even wealthy children had a terrible time of things really. It does make me wonder how people survived, mentally I suppose, historically. It just fascinates me!

BigfootFiles Sun 10-Aug-14 20:19:20

I guess they survived the same way people in the developing world survive today, where they're expected to be married at 12, working in sweatshops etc. There's still a long way to go.

BMW6 Sun 10-Aug-14 20:19:57

I think the awareness of danger to children started with the Moors Murders, I remember Mum and Dad talking to us about "stranger danger" - never get into an unknown adults car or house, if they offer to show you some puppies scream and run away. If a bloke grabs you scream your head off, kick him in the groin etc.

The adults in my neighbourhood knew who the ones to watch were - they used to call on them and have a word (not beaten uo - but left in no doubt what would happen if he did molest children). Looking back I think the policeman who lived 4 doors up from us must have tipped off the fathers in the area, perhaps.

sillystring Sun 10-Aug-14 20:25:33

It could be shite. I remember horrible teachers who were just power crazy and would slap and hit anyone they could (because THEY COULD) and you were actively discouraged from speaking your mind or questioning authority. The upside was from the age of around 13/14 I could pretty much "do what I liked". Went to loads of gigs, drank in pubs, and generally behaved as I wanted to without being asked for ID or tracked everywhere by mobile phone or CCTV. There were downs and ups.

Pinkrose1 Sun 10-Aug-14 20:30:09

Went to school in the 80s and it was nothing like you describe. The teachers were mostly fine.

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