Der Betreiber dieser Webseite ist der hoch-engagierte Martin Mitchell in Australien (ein ehemaliges “Heimkind” in kirchlichen Heimen im damaligen West-Deutschland)

( 09.12.2003 )

Massive systemische Kindesmisshandlung und Kinderzwangsarbeit in kirchlichen Heimen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1945-1985.

Rampant systemic child abuse and child slave labour in church homes in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1945-1985.

Der jetztige Verfasser hat Euch jetzt schon mehrmals auf dieses Thema aufmerksam gemacht. Interessiert das denn niemanden in Deutschland?

Institutional Child Abuse

This paper was prepared for the Law Commission of Canada under the title Apologising for Serious Wrongdoing: Social, Psychological and Legal Considerations. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commission. The accuracy of the information contained in the paper is the sole responsibility of the author.

[ Extracted by Martin Mitchell, from: ]

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Apologising for Serious Wrongdoing: Social, Psychological and Legal Considerations

Susan Alter
Researcher, Law Commission of Canada

Final Report for the
Law Commission of Canada

May 1999

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An apology made for causing serious harm to another person is a moral or ethical act, as well as an act of good conscience and a demonstration of respect. [ . . . . . . . . . . ]

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The overall goal of an apology is to restore dignity and social harmony. These goals clearly are consistent with the goals of justice. [ . . . . . . . . . . ]

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When people commit or permit serious injury to others who are in their care -- wrongs such as the sexual abuse of children in their institutions -- the terrible violation and betrayal of trust experienced by the victims need to be addressed as effectively as possible. Acknowledging the harm done and apologising for it are critical steps in making proper amends. For a victim, an apology is often considered to be the key that will unlock the door to healing. In light of the importance of apologies to survivors of institutional abuse, it is unfortunate and disturbing that traditional justice processes foster intransigence, disrespect and lack of remorse on the part of wrongdoers. [ . . . . . . . . . . ] Once the commitment is made to apologise, the wrongdoer should ensure that the apology is timely, sincere and appropriate. An apology, which the recipient finds is insincere, insufficient or otherwise unacceptable, can deal a crushing blow to an emotionally scarred survivor and re-open wounds.

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By admitting to the harm that was done, the wrongdoer recognises that his moral compass failed and he confirms that the injured party did not do anything wrong.
6 Consequently, the shame is transferred from the injured person to the wrongdoer. As well, by acknowledging the harmful actions done to the injured person and asking for forgiveness, the wrongdoer assumes a position of vulnerability and places the injured person in control of the transaction. That person's dignity is restored. The injured person ends up in a position of strength.7

After the shift in power occurs by way of the apology, the recipient of the apology is left with the ultimate control. The recipient can choose whether or not to accept the apology, whether or not to forgive the wrongdoer.

The wrongdoer should neither expect nor demand forgiveness, [ . . . . . . . . . . ]

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When wrongdoers issue or offer apologies, whether personal or official and public, they will not necessarily satisfy the recipients or be vindicated. An apology, even if accompanied by the best of intentions, may be insufficient. Some apologies will be outright failures. In order to produce apologies that are meaningful for the recipients and, therefore, which succeed, certain ingredients are fundamental. Their inclusion in the apology might not guarantee success but their omission is likely to ensure failure. [ . . . . . . . . . . ]

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 A.    Fundamental Elements of a Meaningful Apology

Studies of the anatomy or ingredients of apologies, carried out by social and behavioural scientists and other professionals, reveal five elements that are key to making a meaningful apology. These basic elements, which will be discussed below, are:


1.    Acknowledgement of the wrong done or naming the offence;



2.    Accepting responsibility for the wrong that was done;



3.    The expression of sincere regret and profound remorse;



4.    The assurance or promise that the wrong done will not recur; and



5.    Reparation through concrete measures.43


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An apology, whether personal or public, that does not involve survivors, consider their needs and reflect their perspective, is bound to fail. Apologising must be an interactive and responsive process.

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[ . . . . . . . . . . ] an official apology is usually made by a representative or agent of the offending institution who is not personally implicated in what happened but who by virtue of the office that he or she represents has a certain responsibility. [ . . . . . . . . . . ]

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When the person who delivers the official apology on behalf of an organisation or government is not considered to be the leader (the one person who is most accountable in the eyes of the recipients), they may feel they have not received a first-rate apology. An apology delivered by someone other than this leader is less meaningful for them.

In addition to paying close attention to who makes the official apology, how it is made or presented can also contribute to its success. [ . . . . . . . . . . ]

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5.    Reasonable Timing

The timing of an apology is critically important to survivors. Delays of months, years, and sometimes decades in issuing meaningful apologies can have serious consequences for victims of abuse who need this closure to heal. The longer it takes for an injured person to get a meaningful apology, once the call for an apology has been made, the more likely that person will begin to feel resentful or, worse, re-victimised. In addition, the longer the apologiser takes to apologise, the harder it may be to find words that work.

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In order to make a group apology, all the individuals affected who make up the collective do not need to be personally identified. As soon as it has been determined that abuse took place that affected a group, and the general scope of all the abuse is known, an apology can be made to the whole group. In addition, an official, public apology to a group tends to describe the wrongs done in more general terms than an individual apology. Therefore, this type of apology is unlikely to serve as probative evidence of liability in individual compensation claims and should not be used as an excuse to delay the apology until the individual claims are settled.

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The language used in an apology must be plain, clear and direct. A meaningful apology is crafted to help the injured person. An apology must sound natural and sincere, as if it comes from the heart of the wrongdoer and not from the pen of a lawyer or an indifferent third party. It must describe the facts, such as the wrongs committed and their impact, in a straightforward manner and not dance around the truth.

Ordinary words must be used that can be fully understood by everyone and appreciated without having specialised knowledge. Using plain language also means avoiding flowery, imprecise speech. Metaphorical flourishes may please the ear and the mind's eye, but they will not please the heart if their message is unclear. Vague statements frustrate the injured party's need to have clear and direct acknowledgement of the wrongs done and their impact. Vague expressions also risk being seen as deliberate or unconscious attempts to avoid taking responsibility. They suggest the apologiser does not really want to make an apology.

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a personal apology should include:

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[ F o o t n o t e s ]

6 Obviously, a wrongdoer could also be female. When referring to the "wrongdoer" in this paper, however, only male adjectives and pronouns are used.

7 M. Minow, Between Vengeance and Forgiveness - Facing History after Genocide and Mass Violence (Boston: Beacon Press, 1998) at 114 - 15. Minow expresses the shifting positions of power as follows:The apology reminds the wrongdoer of community norms because the apology admits to violating them. By retelling the wrong and seeking acceptance, the apologizer assumes a position of vulnerability before not only the victims but also the larger community of literal or figurative witnesses. ... Equally important is the adoption of a stance that grants power to the victims, power to accept, refuse, or ignore the apology.

8 N. Tavuchis, Mea Culpa (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991) at 23. Tavuchis describes the last phase of the apology as follows: "The final term in this moral equation is the response of the injured party: whether to accept and release by forgiving, to refuse and reject the offender, or to acknowledge the apology while deferring a decision."

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43 These five elements are drawn and compiled from various sources (Lazare ibid.; Tavuchis, supra note 8; Minow supra note 7; and Govier supra note 10; cited in the discussion that follows, as well as from consultations with survivors. A similar, but not identical, configuration of five elements is proposed in H. Wagatsuma & A. Rosett, "The Implications of Apology: Law and Culture in Japan and the United States" (1986) 20: 4 Law & Society Review 461 at 469:the hurtful act happened, caused injury, and was wrongful;the apologizer was at fault and regrets participating in the act;the apologizer will compensate the injured party;the act will not happen again; andthe apologizer intends to work for good relations in the future.

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Important Notices

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© 2003 The copyright over this version and arrangement of extracts from the text of the full report rests with Martin Mitchell in Australia who will also supply an accurate German translation of these extracts in due course.

Aufgesetzt und gepostet von Martin Mitchell aus Australien, Eigentümer, Betreiber und Webmaster von ** @,
*Bund der jetzt aktiven von den Kirchen in Deutschland in Heimen misshandelten Kinder, 1945-1985*
*Union of now activist adults abused as children in church homes in Germany, 1945-1985*

[ Kopie versandt an alle Zeitungen in Deutschland und auch an die Medien im Ausland. ]

[ Ein Original wurde am 6.12.2003 auch der Bundesministerin für Justiz, der Bundesregierung Deutschlands, Brigitte Zypries, zugeschickt, mit einer Bitte um ihre "sofortige Stellungnahme". ]

[ Erstveröffentlichung auf dieser Webseite: 9. Dezember 2003 ] [ Hauptüberschriften vom hiesigen Redakteur hinzugefügt ]

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