Scotland yesterday set out its fullest public account of mass historic child abuse.

An independent report for the Scottish Government gave an official voice to the men and women who, as children, were sexually, physically and emotionally tortured over nearly half a century.

Its author, Tom Shaw, found widespread systemic failures in the nation's confused and confusing network of children's homes and residential schools run by the state, charities and churches.

In his recommendations, Mr Shaw said survivors of abuse should get a national support centre alongside a new nationwide task force to stand up for youngsters currently in care.

The national task group, he said, would oversee all such services in the future and try to stand up for children who, he warned, are still "out of sight and out of mind".

He said: "I'm deeply concerned about the possibility of people who were not listened to as children not being listened to as adults."

Their stories, he said, should be recorded in a special centre for the victims of abuse in children's homes. He did his best in his own report, Historical Abuse Systemic Review, and included first-hand accounts of children's experiences in homes.

The report was not the full-fledged public inquiry campaigners had wanted. It was the idea of the old Scottish Executive, through First Minister Jack McConnell who officially apologised to victims of what he called Scotland's "national shame" in 2004. Mr Shaw, appointed in 2005, was working to a tight remit, focusing on the rules governing children in care between 1950 and 1995. He acknowledged that his work would not go far enough to satisfy campaigners, many of whom gathered to hear his recommendations. His report does not name individual abusers - or even the institutions where abuse took place.

The Scottish Government welcomed the report yesterday, without giving much away about future plans. Adam Ingram, the Children's Minister, said he was "in full agreement of the principles of the findings and the recommendations". The report was "far-reaching" and "it is right that we give detailed and serious consideration to the issues".

Mr Ingram has already announced an inquiry into allegations - and convictions - for child abuse at Kerelaw, the residential school and secure unit in Ayrshire that sparked Scotland's biggest child abuse investigation before it closed in 2005.

Kerelaw, however, was just the latest in a succession of abuse scandals in residential institutions for children. The list has grown in recent years. It includes: Larchgrove, a council-run children's home in Glasgow; Blairs College, a seminary in Aberdeen; St Ninian's, a school run by the De La Salle Brothers, monks in Gartmore, Stirlingshire; and Nazareth House, a chain of Catholic children's homes.

Mr Shaw warned that serious problems still remain within residential childcare, not least the low level of training among care workers. He was unable even to begin to measure the scale of abuse in Scottish care homes. That would only emerge from a major judicial investigation. At least one support group for survivors believes that is exactly what Scotland needs now.

David Whelan, of Former Boys and Girls Abused of Quarriers Homes, said: "We are still pushing for a full public inquiry, specifically into Quarriers. It's a special case."

Mr Whelan's group represents 100 former residents of the Quarriers village in Bridge of Weir. Some would like to see the charity change its name. Others want it to apologise.

Quarriers yesterday backed Mr Shaw's recommendations.

Phil Robinson, its chief executive, said: "When Quarriers provided evidence to the Scottish parliamentary debate on historic abuse, we stated that our position is that if any individual suffered abuse at Quarriers then we apologise. This also led to the public apology made by then First Minister Jack McConnell to survivors of historic abuse".