Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The crises in child protection

The video begins about 06.40 minutes:

The presenter introduces the discussion with: "The Scottish Government has set the aim for Scotland to be the best place to grow up in. but there is a long way to go before they achieve that. There`s big issues like tackling poverty, providing housing, education, nutrition and play space....But another issue that`s been dominating discussion about children in Scotland over the last month is Named Person. I`m sure you`ve all seen the crazy coverage we`ve had in the media over that ... In Commonspace it`s probably been the most debated subject in our opinion section."

Well, it`s good that people are forming their opinion about it, although she does not explain what she means by `crazy coverage.` What has been really crazy is that we did not have this coverage in the media before our MSPs voted for it in the Scottish parliament. Now we have John Swinney insisting that we must have a watered down version of it.

"So are we improving wellbeing or are we creating a climate of fear?" is the topic.

First to speak is independent social worker Maggie Mellon who supports the idea that social workers have become very scary people. This is followed by Professor Andrew Bilson who quotes some very worrying statistics to show that child protection is headed in the wrong direction.

"What we`re seeing internationally is crises after crises in child protection. It doesn`t really matter where you look in the English speaking world ... I hear in the last week there`s been headlines here in Glasgow about the numbers of children getting drawn into the child protection system."

"These issues are really crucial and they`re crucial because what`s happening in society is more and more children are being treated as if they`re being abused when actually they`re poor..."

"And I think what we`ve got is a perfect storm."

"More and more social work is about risk. And risk is something that gets easily defined, easily upgraded. It`s very easy to say that somebody`s at risk."

"In new policies coming out in 19 local authorities in England virtually every child under six months will be classified as being at risk. Risk is a really tricky, problematic concept."

"But we`ve also got austerity and cuts in services and cuts in benefits. Now that affects people. We`ve got massive inequality and growing poverty not just in the UK but across the whole of the world..."

"It isn`t the sexual abuse that we keep hearing about that`s behind all the child protection investigations; it`s domestic abuse and neglect. And neglect is very hard to differentiate from poverty."

"I don`t know what the figures [for adoption] are in Scotland but I do know that you`ve got more children in out-of-home care than either England, Wales or Northern Ireland per head of population..."

"In England, ... twenty two and a half percent of all children under five have been referred to social services before their fifth birthday. Not all of them were about abuse. About one in nine of them were about abuse. In one local authority by the time children are 6 that figure goes up to 27 percent. What`s it going to be by the time they`re 16?"

What`s it going to be in Scotland by the time a child is eighteen if there is a Named Person hovering around the young person worrying about a risk to wellbeing?

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