Victoria, Baby P and now Baby Liam….
Each of these names represent a small child who has been so cruelly treated by their parent(s) that they tragically died. Sadly there are also many others that do not make it to the news.
Every time, we ask why? How could this happen? Every time the Government waste more time and money doing expensive reviews and overhauls and introduce more legislation.
However, let’s just take a moment to look at everything. The NSPCC raise millions every year (as do a number of other prominent charities) with an aim to reduce child abuse and neglect and have done for decades! Yet abuse and neglect rates are rising. Is this our money well spent or does it get swallowed up on extortionate admin costs?
Government policies have been tightened to the point that in August in Scotland each child will have a ‘named person’ to monitor them, with potentially worrying outcomes for those not in need but I will talk about that in a moment.
In my letter to David Cameron I highlighted just how severe the cuts were to family services – or so I thought. Yes Maternity units and midwives on the ground have been cut by 40% each year over the last two years yet, in particular due to rising immigration, our birth rates are on a steep rise. There is now virtually no funding for children under school age that need additional help due to issues such as autism. Yet we are seeing a disturbing increase in mental health disorders in children under 5. There is NO budget to prepare and support parents when pregnant and in baby’s first year to aid development and family life, instead we all but force mums back to work at a time in baby’s development that is crucial for separation anxiety.
What I have discovered though in recent weeks of investigating is that there IS money. Money for numerous local council ‘teams’ that are supposed to be the ‘Family Support Service’ – 10 different teams, not including the medical/GP teams! Money to pay for Children’s Centres, at last count 3000 in the UK – these centres (with an average budget of over £80,000 per year each!) were supposed to be the answer to the case of Victoria. They would be the one central point for all services so that no child ‘fell through the gap’. Have they succeeded? Have they been worth the money? NO
We have since seen the cases of Baby P and now Liam who represent the thousands that don’t make the news.
Could that money have been better spent, for example directly on Community Midwives on the ground, visiting families? YES
So what is the Government’s answer? Well, in Scotland as I mentioned there is a new bill coming in to force in August, the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act. But what does it actually mean?
This new Act is not looking to prepare and support parents on their family journey to prevent these tragic cases occurring. Instead what it is looking to do is waste time and money snooping on families and building cases against families and probably take many more children away from family units that are NOT in need but are average families facing normal childhood developmental issues!
I have heard rumours that under this Act, if you do not breastfeed your child they will be put on the ‘at risk’ register! Outrageous!!!! This should be a family choice! I myself couldn’t breastfeed, my friend has chosen not to breastfeed and her children have always slept through the night and rarely been ill! Time and money wasted!!
If one report is to be believed, a typical act of a sibling destroying a toy belonging to their other sibling and that child voices their dismay in the earshot of another adult such as a teacher – a report could be opened and investigated in to that family unit as to whether the sibling has anger issues or there is underlying abuse! I can tell you now that probably every adult with a sibling can remember a jealous moment of destruction like this in their childhood either as the perpetrator or the owner of the decapitated teddy! Sibling rivalry teaches us many of the lessons we need in life! The key is to prepare parent for this and how to handle it – NOT put them on an ‘at risk’ register
Those that ARE in need, those children that ARE being abused or neglected or that just need HELP will yet again be the ones that cases may indeed be opened on but the usual beuracracy will see that child left in situ whilst numerous discussion and support meetings amongst these ‘teams’ take place or until the situation becomes so severe the family unit is ripped apart through no support – I have witnessed these very circumstances!
I sincerely hope that this new Act will NOT find its way in to England and that this latest tragic case will force Government to realise that ‘prevention’ or preparation and support is better than ‘cure’ which is currently too little too late and clearly not a cure!