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Today we visit the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands are a group of islands in the English Channel, close to the north coast of France. But they are not part of France. And they are not really part of Britain either. The British Queen is also ruler of the Channel Islands, and the British government looks after their defence and foreign affairs. But in other respects, the islands are tiny independent states – they have their own Parliaments and governments and their own laws. Until about 100 years ago, most people on the islands spoke a dialect of French, but today the main language is English.
The Channel Islands are famous for cows, potatoes and income tax. The Jersey and Guernsey breeds of cattle – which come from the Channel Islands – produce a creamy milk with lots of butterfat. At one time, we could buy Channel Islands milk in England – people said how good it was for you, because it had so much cream. Today, everyone is afraid of getting too fat, so we don't want milk with lots of cream in it. And the potatoes? Well, many farmers in the Channel Islands grow potatoes which are ready to be harvested and eaten several weeks before potatoes grown in England. These Channel Island potatoes are called Jersey Royals and you can buy them in English supermarkets in April and May. And the income tax? Well, there isn't any income tax in the Channel Islands. In fact, the Channel Islands is a good place to live if you are very rich. And lots of rich people live there, and the harbours in the islands are full of their yachts.
However, in the last few days the Channel Islands have been in the news for a very different reason. About 12 months ago, the police in Jersey – the largest of the Channel Islands – received reports about the abuse of children in care on the island. I need to explain what this means. "Abuse" means very bad treatment of someone, like violence, or emotional or sexual bad treatment. And "children in care" means children who can no longer live with their parents, but live with foster parents or in a children’s home instead. About 150 people have now told the Jersey police about abuse of children in care on the island, over a period of many years. Many of their reports are about abuse at a children's home called Haut de la Garenne. The Haut de la Garenne children's home closed in 1986, and the building is now a youth hostel. A few days ago, the police made a gruesome discovery there. Using a police sniffer dog, they found the remains of a child buried under a concrete floor. The police think that there may be several more bodies to be found.
Jersey is a relatively small community of under 100,000 people. The stories about child abuse have become a major political issue on the island. People are asking how could abuse of children have continued for so long? Who knew about the abuse at Haut de la Garenne? Who was responsible for the bad treatment of children? Why is it that it is only today – 20 years after the Haut de la Garenne children's home closed – that the police are investigating?
I guess that if you live somewhere like the Channel Islands, it is easy to think that you live in a little paradise, and that the problems of the rest of the world – crime, poverty, war, disease – do not really affect you. The child’s body at Haut de la Garenne tells us that this is, unfortunately, not true.
Источник подкаста: listen-to-english.