Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Couldn't be abuse, must be bullying; so that's all right, then.

Yet again, a devious sociopath has managed to conceal gross child abuse from the authorities. In scale, the Lincolnshire case dwarfs anything which has occurred in England & Wales in recent years and is more like that of the Austrian Josef Fritzl. Nick Clegg, the MP for a constituency in Sheffield, where the abuser was finally brought to book yesterday, confessed to incredulity that such things could have gone on undetected for so long.

The convicted businessman was obviously cleverer than the Haringey mother. The reports in the media detail his m.o. in evading action by the authorities. However, the signs were there.

One that leapt out at me was the report that "in 1988, burn marks on one of the girl's faces were spotted at their school but were put down to school bullying". Who decided that it was "only" bullying - the school authorities or a social services team leader? What sort of school was it that accepted the diagnosis but failed to investigate the "bullying"?

Lord Laming wrote (para 6.602) in his report on the Victoria ClimbiƩ case: "While I accept that social workers are not detectives, I do not consider that they should simply serve as the passive recipients of information, unquestioningly accepting all that they are told by the carers of children about whom there are concerns. The concept of 'respectful uncertainty' should lie at the heart of the relationship between the social worker and the family. It does not require social workers constantly to interrogate their clients, but it does involve the critical evaluation of information that they are given. People who abuse their children are unlikely to inform social workers of the fact. For this reason at least, social workers must keep an open mind."


Frank H Little said...

As a BBC social affairs correspondent said on "PM" yesterday, a lot has changed in twenty years. Certainly schools in Wales are a lot more alive to bullying in recent years.

However, he also said that social workers are often the poorest at detecting cover-ups by abusive adults. Being "people people" they naturally empathise with the families they are dealing with and are therefore more likely to take their word against doctors, police and teachers.

There could be another factor at work. Lord Donaldson, in an opinion as appeal court judge in a notable case involving social work (Reg. v. Birmingham City Council, Ex p. O.), wrote:

"The work done by social workers is not new, but until modern times was undertaken by voluntary organisations, family doctors, the clergy and neighbours. The change to paid and trained workers and the growth of their professionalism are of recent origin. In many ways this is all to the good, particularly the professionalism. Every profession has to develop its own ethics and those ethics must take full account of the circumstances in which the member is working and his or her relationship with those with whom they are working. In the case of the social work professions, this development is taking place, but in some respects it is going astray. Their work necessarily involves acquiring highly confidential and sensitive information from and about those whom they seek to help. Indeed, it would be impossible to obtain such information without an express or implied promise of confidentiality. The social workers' recognition of their own professionalism has led them to speak and think of those whom they seek to help as their 'clients'. This in turn has led some of them to equate their relationship with their 'clients' to that of a doctor, lawyer or accountant with their patients or clients."

Lord Donaldson goes on to explain why the analogy is not exact, and the dangers to which it can lead.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of M.O.s

There is a clear link between Animal Cruilty and Child Abuse, as seen by the partner of the mother of Baby P who used to break mices backs between his fingers for fun.

Ask anyone with any knowledge of child protection, and they will say that there's the aforementioned link.

So why-o-why did those two police officers who were abusing those two dogs in North Wales only have a pathetic 180 hours and 120 hours community sentencem and a "ban" from keeping animals for five years. They should have gone to jail, when are our benches going to realise this?

G. Lewis
Bridgend Lib Dems