Thursday, 13 August 2009

Yasmin Gets A Few Things Right….

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has a column on the Baby Peter affair in (of all places) the ‘Daily Mail’:
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.

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.
Good start, Yasmin. How, exactly?
Children have always been hurt. Adult power protects them and can also destroy them.

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.
But the problem has been that, in so many cases, the strangers have indeed raised concerns, only to be brushed aside by the authorities.

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.

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.
*rolls eyes*

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.

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.
At last, something we can agree on!
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.

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.
And another!
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.

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.
And another! She’s on a roll, folks…
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….’?

8 comments:

Letters From A Tory said...

Social workers can already walk into your home, the problem is that they are powerless and all too often incompetent when they get there.

Pavlov's Cat said...

often working-class district nurses of the past with statutory rights to go into homes and ensure children are being looked after.

My Nan and her mother before her were not district nurses, they were certainly doughty and working class.

What they were, were 'Home Helps' and before they became purely for the elderly, before being eventually disbanded. That's exactly what they did, they helped in the home, they 'helped' struggling families cope, they showed new mothers, how to deal with babies, they taught basic cookng skills and domestic chores, trying to get them to the point where thier help would not be needed, showing by example( they often lived on the same estates as the clients) But always keeping an eye out on the welfare of the children.
They didn't have a qualification in 'social sciences' between them, in fact my great Nan just had a school leavers certificate at 14.

What they did have was common sense and the experience of bringing up umpteen children, that all turned out OK by what ever path suited them.

I suppose now that such assistance would be deemed 'patronising' to the social services clients.

Rob said...

These "doughty district nurses" would instead be marxist harridans who would leave the feckless and drug-addled scum to abuse at will, and would instead persecute their class enemies.

ranter said...

YAB is a complete self opinionated racemongering racist socialist who utters bile every time she opens that mouth and bites the hand that has fed her and continues to feed her despite evidence that she's really not worth it. More people switch off, change channel or turn the page when her name appears. She continues to rail against imperialism and colonialism and forgets just which nation took her mob in when Uncle Idi booted them out of Uganda in 1974 - and very nicely the majority have done out of the UK, yet we're all racists under the skin.
Tracey Connolly and her ilk are not as rare as media reports make out. The incidence of human and animal shit in flats and houses isn't particularly rare among the underclass, these lifestyles are fairly normal within that 'milieu'. That there aren't more Peter Connolly's is really down to luck - believe me. Many kids on inner city estates live awful lives, abandoned almost from birth by parents who can just about look after themselves, insomuch as to be able to get booze, fags, puff and the odd bag of crisps for themselves or down the post office to get their benefits out.

TDK said...

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.

At last, something we can agree on!


Yes, the child who we know is experiencing cruelty must come first, but it's that knowing that is the crux of the matter.

We should not forget the Cleveland, Orkney and Bryn Estyn scandals. All of them involving a certainty that the child must come first and all driven by a zeal that if in doubt the child is at risk. The same people demand secrecy in trials and we know what that led to. Just recently, the usual suspects were certain again about abuse in the Channel islands.

There's no doubt that Marxist theorising has been the critical factor destroying social work but I sincerely doubt that Yasmin and Bea Campbell disagree on much.

JuliaM said...

"...the problem is that they are powerless and all too often incompetent when they get there."

Indeed. One of the very few good even the Yazmonster has woken up to...

"What they did have was common sense and the experience of bringing up umpteen children.."

Which you can't impart in a uni or poly, or even on a training course...

"Tracey Connolly and her ilk are not as rare as media reports make out. The incidence of human and animal shit in flats and houses isn't particularly rare among the underclass..."

I was hoping it was, but then again, wouldn't the SS who did visit Connolly's house have made more of it? Can it really not be considered abnormal and a sign of potential dangers?

*shudder*

"We should not forget the Cleveland, Orkney and Bryn Estyn scandals. All of them involving a certainty that the child must come first and all driven by a zeal that if in doubt the child is at risk."

But all of those based on hearsay and lacking actual physical evidence. Of which there seems to have been plenty in the Connolly case..

Anonymous said...

Is the care provided by social workers for their own children so immaculate?
Is it cruel to let children play rugby?

David Gillies said...

You do have to be impressed with the family cohesion that Yasmin is talking about, especially when one of the girls gets a white boyfriend and is sent off to the sub-continent to be quietly strangled.