A TEENAGER who suffered horrific abuse as a child has blasted the Scottish care system and said it needs overhauled.

At the age of three, Declan Cox was thrown through a pane of glass by his step-father, while his mother did nothing to protect him.

His step-dad was jailed for physically assaulting the toddler, but his mother married him when he was released and Declan was taken in to care.

While there, he was neglected by a carer who was later de-registered, and after being adopted at the age of six he suffered mental health problems.

Despite being in a more stable setting with his adoptive family, Declan was suffering from trauma as a result of all the abuse he had suffered, and tried to take his own life numerous times.

Now 19, Declan is still angry about the care system’s failings and is hoping that others in his position do not have to suffer the way he did for years.

He is now planning a conference to encourage people with experience of the care sector to talk about how it can be improved.

Declan said: “The system is just not suitable for a lot of children. Not everyone is the same, they don’t all respond the same way to a specific social work programme, for example.

“Before I was adopted it was just bad because I was responsible for my younger brother and had to look out for my mum as well, plus I was being abused.

“Due to the trauma I suffered I was just intent on harming myself as much as possible when I was adopted.

“I would do anything. I tried to break a window with my head at one time, maybe around the age of eight or nine.

“My psychiatrist said I clearly had post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”

Declan continued to have a troubled childhood, and said his foster parents found it difficult to cope with his behaviour so asked him to leave home when he was 16, he said.

He stayed in at least five homeless hostels all over Glasgow, and felt threatened and scared every day.

However one day witnessed an incident so violent it made him determined to change his life.

He said: “I was staying in homeless hostels in Glasgow where most people in there are part of gangs, the younger ones anyway.

“They would go out, get drunk and start fights.

“Things changed when I was in a hostel and I saw someone being stabbed right outside. Both of the people involved lived in the hostel too.

“The guy was just sitting there, bleeding from the stomach, waiting for an ambulance.

“I just thought ‘This needs to change. I should not be living here.’”

Declan gradually changed his life with the help of a local church and now rents a house of his own is in a long-term relationship and is starting college.

He has credited Fr John Carroll of St. Mary Immaculate church in Pollokshaws as one of the main people who has helped him turn things around.

Despite getting himself out of the cycle he felt trapped in, he is aware not all children who go through care are so fortunate.

He said: “Any agency you can think of, I’ve been involved with.

“You don’t get treated like a person, you’re treated like a number. It just does not work for a lot of people, it’s letting them down.

“These organisation make up their own programmes that they use to support young people, but they are not suited for everyone and they all do not work.

“I know a lot of young people who are just living on benefits and don’t do anything. it doesn’t have to be like that.”

In October Declan will hold the Surviving, Coping and Thriving conference and is urging those who have been through the care system, who work in the industry or who are foster parents to come.

He said: “Some of these things I have been through have put me at risk and I probably know more about the system than most people.

“I want a chance for people to get together and say ‘this is what is going wrong, this is what needs to change.

“I’m hoping for people to come along who have been in the care system, social workers and people who would like to foster and adopt, or who already do."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Every young person should have an equal opportunity to succeed in life, no matter their circumstances.

“However, as this young person’s story shows, there are still many challenges facing young people in care and their opportunities are all too often not the same as other young people in Scotland.

“The care system must, and can, do better by our most vulnerable children and young people.

“They need to know they are loved and feel cared for – that is why the First Minister commissioned the independent care review, which will report over the next two years.

“The Review will look at how we ensure our care system puts love for the children it cares for at its heart.”

For information or to register for Declan’s event in October, visit www.surviving-coping-thriving.co.uk