Black girls’ hair cut short as part of ‘unacceptable practice’

A UK panel's report revealed that cutting the girls' hair was among various abuses at a series of privately-owned group homes for children and young adults with mental and other challenges.

The hair of Black girls who were placed in South Yorkshire (Doncaster), UK group homes was “routinely” cut short, a practice that an investigatory panel termed “unacceptable.”

According to The Guardian, the government’s Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel released recommendations last week in response to an earlier report exposing a “culture of abuse” in which employees at three Hesley Group-run institutions in Doncaster frequently physically, sexually and emotionally violated over 100 youngsters.

The panel’s noted that the children’s hair was cut sometimes against their parents’ will.

Black girls head shaved London
The hair of Black girls who were placed in South Yorkshire (Doncaster), UK group homes was “routinely” cut short, a practice that an investigatory panel termed “unacceptable.” (Photo: Adobe Stock)

“There is evidence to suggest children and young adults [at Fullerton House, Wilsic Hall and Wheatley House] were denied their own cultural influences and identity,” the report said, according to MSN. “This was unacceptable practice that was both depersonalizing and degrading for the children.”

In addition to the altering of their respective physical appearances, the Helsey Group allegedly marginalized the cultural needs of those targeted, including those related to their mother-tongue language.

A Hesley Group spokeswoman claimed that the company was unaware of the head-shaving practice and said company officials had not previously received any proof it had taken place. She also rebutted claims of the mistreatment of individuals in its facilities, according to The Guardian.

The report further asserts that youngsters — regardless of gender or ethnicity — were punched, kicked, verbally teased and subjected to inappropriate restraint in those facilities, including being kept up all night in restrooms. 

“The appalling harm these children suffered was a result of grievous failures in both their day-to-day care,” said the report’s co-author, Dame Christine Lenehan, The Guardian reported, “and within the system of oversight that should have guaranteed their welfare.”

The panel’s research describes the children abused in the Hesley Group-run institutions as some of English society’s most vulnerable, generally having learning difficulties, autism and complicated medical requirements. Many were placed in residential homes because of their challenging behaviors, which interfered with their ability to function at home and school.

Local governments reportedly paid the Doncaster houses approximately £250,000 a year — which equates to $309,491.25 — to house a child, earning the Hesley Group millions of dollars. A government watchdog group suggested that England’s “dysfunctional” children’s residential care market seemingly forced authorities to pay exorbitant costs for frequently subpar services.

Despite hundreds of complaints, severe incident notifications and staff whistleblower reports about conditions at the three homes, South Yorkshire authorities did not take action until they opened an investigation into the abuse in March 2021, according to the most recent panel report, The Guardian reports.

A spokesman for the Hesley Group claimed the organization had undergone a significant reorganization and changed the senior management since closing the three homes in 2021.

Panel chair Annie Hudson pleaded with ministers “to honor and provide some measure of justice” to abused children. 

“This will require unequivocal political and professional will along with necessary investment, to deliver the substantive and strategic long-term changes that will make a difference to children’s lives.”

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