That collective grief makes us human and humane. However, grief becomes self-indulgent if it ends with flowers and public emoting. These do nothing for the thousands of at-risk children - the many more Baby Ps in the pipeline.Good start, Yasmin. How, exactly?
They will not be saved unless we become a meddlesome society and bring back a renewed sense of responsibility and informed judgment among child protection professionals.
Children have always been hurt. Adult power protects them and can also destroy them.But the problem has been that, in so many cases, the strangers have indeed raised concerns, only to be brushed aside by the authorities.
Thankfully, in just over a century, child-rearing in Britain has become more respectful of young lives. No more chimney sweeps, thank God. But there have been losses, too.
We live in an individualised society, the result partly of the social revolution of the 1960s and partly relentless of urbanisation. That in turn has led to the privatisation of parenthood. Strangers can only watch, or better still turn their eyes away, if they become aware of cruelty to a child.
And in one famous case, it was the ‘concerned citizens’ that did the job the social workers didn’t do….
The expectation that no one will intervene can extend to close family members, too. Relatives who pass on tips or warnings are too often seen as nuisances and busy-bodies.*rolls eyes*
In the happiest Asian families I know, there is a sense of clannishness, and poor parenting is compensated for by others. I never could stop my mum giving me free advice on rearing children, irritating though it was.
Somehow, I just knew she’d find some way to insinuate how much better Asian families are at avoiding the problems that plague Western society…
Perhaps good men and women in their local communities should get together, form a child safety circle and start twitching curtains again. And we should invite back into the workforce the doughty, often working-class district nurses of the past with statutory rights to go into homes and ensure children are being looked after.The people we have already have those statutory rights to enter homes. It’s not new laws or positions we need, it’s new people to fit in them…
Deep culture changes must be brought into the child protection agencies, the health service and criminal justice system.At last, something we can agree on!
The child experiencing cruelty must come first, not the parent, not the parent's own abuse as a child, not the chosen lifestyles of families, not the accepted customs within communities.
There will be some who dare to offer up the abuse suffered by Peter's mum as a child as an excuse for her actions.And another!
She obviously had a hellish upbringing and deserves some sympathy. But not understanding. Countless Britons have been victims of maltreatment. They don't repeat the cycle.
I was recently invited to speak at a conference for childcare experts. Some were ready to reexamine their assumptions; too many were simply in the business of self-justification and blaming the media.And another! She’s on a roll, folks…
Oh, and claiming in all seriousness that every parent, at heart, wanted the best for their children and needed better resourced ' support' when they were failing.
Yes, even Rose West, you see, and Baby Peter's mother could have been great mums. Their children were victims of a fairytale belief in ultimate goodness.
Childcare workers need a critical mindset, scepticism and courage so they are not fobbed off by devious abusers.
Society may have to decide that there will be more wrongly charged parents if vigilance goes up. Agonising though that must be, I think that is a price we should be prepared to pay.Whoops! And it comes screeching to a halt.
I don’t think that’s a price we should be prepared to pay, Yasmin. What happened to ‘Better a hundred guilty men go free….’?