Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Protecting our children

I watched the BBC documentary series Protecting our Children with some very mixed feelings about the program..   Why is it even called protecting our children, surely this is the wrong message and sets social workers against parents from the get go?  Isn’t this issue more about how we raise children?

The program stirred in me some very big questions...  Where is the extended family? What friends are helping to support them? Toby is likely to spend his entire childhood in foster care - how is that really better? How does a social worker help struggling parents by giving them a 'plan?'.  What care was there for Tiffany once her children were in care?  Mike clearly has some developmental issues of his own - how was he supported?   Did Tiffany love her children - I think she did..   and if she was making progress (as seemed evident) how can it be that she then 8 months later came to a decision that giving them up was better for them - or indeed for her?  I really hope this was nothing to do with 'CLASS' or 'ECONOMICS!'...  Suzanne's admission is she 'hoped' life would be better for Toby, but what checks are in place to make sure they are? 

It is distressing that there are so many people in our nation who really struggle to care for themselves (basic care) let alone care for others..  As a society and individually don’t we need to take a good hard look at ourselves and ask why that is?    If all we do is get upset, tutt and wonder how this could happen and yet drive past people who are clearly struggling without becoming their friend and coming alongside them, supporting, loving then shame on us.   Let us be better than this.   Social workers do a very difficult job, made more difficult because the rest of us often think caring for others is someone else's job.  They can only do so much, and are limited in what they are 'allowed' to do.  I'm glad they bought him a bed, but couldn't they have ensured it was set up?  Isn’t that something though that a friend could do? Surely, it's practical help and emotional support that people need, and that is often treated with suspicion when offered by social workers because the threat is 'do what I say or lose your kid'..    those without the power to remove kids, people like you and me, need to step up to love the parents, help them learn what to do without making them a mini-project, without talking down or judging them, and without taking over.   Let's use our anger, our distress and our new-found awareness to make a real difference this year to the lives of families, not just children in difficult or dangerous situations.