Sunday, 25 August 2013

Early Interventions (1)

I refer to the Scottish Government: Early Years and the Case for Action HERE where they claim that there is evidence that exposure to high levels of parental stress, neglect and abuse can have a severe effect on brain development. They go on to say that at age 3 children at higher risk of poor outcomes can be identified on the basis of their chaotic home circumstances, their emotional behaviour, their negativity and poor development.
They confidently assert that these children are more likely to grow into criminals, substance abusers, the unemployed and will more likely experience teenage pregnancies and poor health. They believe the most cost effective way of dealing with these social problems is to improve the early years experiences of these children.
But has the Scottish Government made the same mistake as Iain Duncan Smith whose speeches, as reported in the Guardian 9 April 2010, distorted research on childhood neglect and brain size? He too believes that toddlers can be identified as future criminals. Dr Perry, who worked with neglected children suffering extreme sensory deprivation, is the neuroscientist whose research Iain Duncan Smith quotes. Dr Perry has said in response that it is an oversimplification of his work. 
Undaunted, 20 cities in England, including Plymouth have recently been chosen to work with the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) to encourage early intervention and prevention work. Although somewhat behind Scotland in the drive towards early interventions this global agenda is being implemented in different ways but with the same political philosophy. As one American sees it, Governments want complete control over all children. 

Quoting from Dave Hodges` blogpost:  "According to a previously unreported Obamacare regulation, that has managed to escape `scrutiny` from the mainstream media, millions of American families will be targeted for home invasion by the forces of the Federal government in the name of preventing parental neglect resulting in disabilities in their children. And the Fourth Amendment be damned, after January 1, 2014, Federal officials may enter your home without a warrant in order to `intervene` for the purpose of saving `high risk` children."

Where is the evidence that mass surveillance of all children and early interventions will work in the best interests of children?  Misquoting neuroscientists just will not do that.


Iain Duncan Smith 'distorted' research on childhood neglect and brain size

Research focusing on effects of extreme abuse was 'grossly misrepresented' by former Tory leader, neuroscientist says

Iain Duncan Smith in Easterhouse
Iain Duncan Smith at an estate in Glasgow. His recent speeches have drawn a link between children's brain development and crime in later life. Photo: Murdo Macleod

"Dr Bruce Perry reacted following comments made by the former Tory leader in which he has suggested children brought up in abusive or neglectful households could develop smaller brains.
In one recent speech, Duncan Smith was recorded on a mobile phone appearing to draw a link between brain development in young children and people committing crime in later life.
Dr Perry, who runs the respected Child Trauma Academy in Texas, said Duncan Smith had "greatly misrepresented" and "distorted" his work."

"His research assessed the brain development of children who suffered extreme forms of neglect – such as those locked in a basement without human contact – and he said it was wrong to apply the findings to children who have undergone far less severe neglect, such as those from broken homes."
Listen to Iain Duncan Smith's comments Link to this audio

"Dr Perry was shown the transcript along with three other examples where Duncan Smith had referred to the relationship between brain size and neglect in childhood, all apparent references to the neuroscientists work. He concluded  Duncan Smith's comments were an "oversimplification" that "greatly misrepresents the way we would explain the impact of neglect or trauma on the developing brain". He added: "to oversimplify this way is, essentially, to distort".

Iain Duncan Smith

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

GIRFEC Data Collection

According to Scottish Ministers they will further the rights of children as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and prepare reports to describe this activity. As a signatory to the UNCRC the Scottish Government  is obliged to provide extensive child-specific data in their reports and include data on children`s civil rights, survival, welfare and development.  In addition this data should be made public and should inform policy and planning.  An important tool for processing the data are wellbeing measures.

So it can be seen that none of the ideas in the Children and Young People Bill  built on Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) were dreamt up by the Scottish Government in partnership with their stakeholders. The collaboratives were merely the means to achieve the United Nations agenda. Of course this raises serious issues about democracy and national sovereignty which were never discussed.

Then there is the thorny problem of how to keep the shared data secure.  We know that a Freedom of Information request in 2012 revealed that personal data had been lost in the Highland Council, West Lothian, East Lothian and Aberdeenshire Council.  There was a record of 10,000 pieces of information lost during the previous five years although some authorities could not even provide information about their lost data. Scottish Councils were asked to review their data storage procedures. HERE  

Unfortunately from the BBC website 13 August 2013 we now have this:
Aberdeen City Council has launched an investigation after social work files were found in a skip in Dundee. It is not known how the papers - which related to a single social work case - came to be there. It is understood the documents included child protection review paperwork. A spokesman for the local authority said "Aberdeen City Council takes any breach of confidentiality very seriously and we are investigating this matter."

It seems no matter how seriously some councils take breaches of confidentiality, data is still lost.  Can we really feel confident that local authorities, who must collect and share more data under GIRFEC, are going to make their systems secure? I don`t think so. For many reasons, including the security issue, it is time to re-think GIRFEC and the surveillance society.

From the Scottish Review

GIRFEC has been marketed to compliant journalists – and, more generally, to the unsuspecting public – as a benevolent information-sharing project, enabling social work and education professionals, the police, doctors and health workers to co-operate more closely in identifying children at risk. Parroting the mantra 'early intervention' and invoking one or two notorious cases, GIRFEC's promoters assure us that the project is 'cutting bureaucracy' and 'achieving results'. These assurances have been swallowed whole without proper scrutiny of the claims or, more generally, of the underlying agenda.

For reasons known only to the Scottish government and its partners, we have not been told the whole truth about GIRFEC: that, although it is ostensibly a child protection scheme concerned to help a tiny minority, it is actually the basis for the eventual profiling and surveillance of every child in Scotland.


From the Scottish Government

To ensure that children’s rights properly influence the design and delivery of policies and services, the Bill will:
  • Place a duty on the Scottish Ministers to keep under consideration and take steps to further the rights of children and young people, to promote and raise awareness and understanding of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and to prepare reports describing this activity;
  • Place a duty on the wider public sector to report on what they are doing to take forward realisation of the rights set out in the UNCRC; and
  • Extend the powers of Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, so that this office will be able to undertake investigations in relation to individual children and young people.

Obligations of signatories  [from]  Wikiprogress

Convention on the Rights of the Child

"The Convention protects children's rights by setting standards in health care; education; and legal, civil and social services. By agreeing to undertake the obligations of the Convention (by ratifying or acceding to it), national governments have committed themselves to protecting and ensuring children's rights and they have agreed to hold themselves accountable for this commitment before the international community. States parties to the Convention are obliged to develop and undertake all actions and policies in the light of the best interests of the child."

"States are obliged to provide extensive child-specific data in their periodic reports including:• Data disaggregated by age, gender, ethnic and social origin, place of residence, family status and special groups; • Data on the state of children's civil rights, children's survival, welfare and development; • Qualitative and quantitative data, involving the consultation with children as to how information about their lives can best be collected and used; • Data that is accessible to all those concerned with the well-being of children. Data should be made available to the public and should be presented to governmental bodies on a regular basis to inform planning and policy-making Child well-being measures are also commonly employed tools for assessing the fulfilment of the rights set out in the Convention. "

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Working Partnerships

We have`Working in Partnership`as a mantra put out in all directions from the GIRFEC bill.  In fact we have the same mantra put out across the whole of Government. It seems innocent and few people question it. Isn`t it best to build consensus and get along and agree with each other?  Well yes. That would be ideal if this was not POLITICS which it is.

Agreeable as it may seem at first, this language is not innocent.  It has been deftly crafted in order to anaesthetise the opposition - that is if there still is one - and have us all dumbed down and in need of a great lawyer in order to contest it. Because why should it only be stakeholders who have their say, and not the rest of us?  Surely what we have is a democracy and it is the electorate who give  consent or not to a government`s manifesto so that they may represent us?

Well, not any more.  And it is this idea of stakeholders, working in partnership, which governments now use to undermine democracy. First thrashed out in the United Nations` Agenda 21 this document of hundreds of pages is so dry it is almost inpenetrable but is available on the world wide web.  Nevertheless, the ideas it contains about sustainable development are being sneaked into the plans of different nations across the globe. Probably because of its unique history and political culture many in the USA are beginning to see the connections between sustainable development, the United Nations, and the push towards a one world dictatorial government.

We have seen that stakeholders are non-governmental agencies and in the child care industry they are pseudo charitable organisations like Barnardo`s and the NSPCC who have a massive stake in the fostering and adoption industry. It is no surprise then that in their role as consultant and adviser to the Government they lobby for more and speedier child adoptions, particularly babies. Population control is an Agenda 21 issue and that includes control of children. See the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which is being used to undermine parents.

Martin Crewe is the Director of Barnardo`s in Scotland.

picture of Martin Crewe
His previous experience includes seven years as Regional Manager with the NSPCC. He has served on the Boards of several voluntary organisations including the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) and was also a 'business excellence' assessor with Quality Scotland for five years. Trained as a scientist he completed his PhD in geochemistry and worked on the first geological map of Greenland. He gained an MSc in Social Services Management in 2006. In other words his background does not make him an expert in child care.

That matters little because according to Barnardo`s website, Martin Crewe was still a key member of the Scottish Government / COSLA partnership developing the Early Years Framework for Scotland and is currently involved in the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) programme!

In addition we have the unbelievable statement from Andrew Flanagan, the chief executive of the NSPCC, that `doing less could mean more.` In other words he insinuated that his role should be merely to advise Government and never mind the services. And what is his experience with children? In the Guardian article it tells us: `While still in his 40s, Flanagan had run a sizeable chunk of ITV, was powerful enough to drop Chris Evans from his radio show for sulking, and sold Glasgow's chain of local newspapers to a US media giant for £216m. He was a regular feature in the power lists: less than a decade ago, Flanagan was sandwiched on the Guardian's Media top 100 between the Daily Mail's proprietor and the editor of the Times, at number 38.`

They go on: `Then, in 2008, Flanagan got an unexpected phone call: would he be interested in transforming the NSPCC? The children's charity was still dazed by the triumph of its Full Stop campaign to end child abuse – the most successful fundraising push in UK history, pulling in £250m. After mulling over the offer for a few days, Flanagan accepted.`

`Change` and `transformation` are words used often in Agenda 21. It is revealing that Flanagan was asked if he would be interested in transforming the NSPCC and what that transformation entailed: Doing less.

The Independent reports that David Cameron is prepared to get tougher on teenage single mothers by insisting that they stay with their parents or move into hostel accommodation. In this age of transformation and austerity he is prepared to reduce these mothers to abject poverty. Guess which fostering and adoption organisations will move in to get the babies when the stress gets too much for young mothers?  Because there won`t be any public services to support them.

The writer in the Guardian article is duly impressed by Flanagan and notes that his radical idea was that `in an age of austerity the only way to ensure that donations kept rolling in was to "recalibrate" the idea that the charity would "end child cruelty" any time soon, and recreate the NSPCC as more of a thinktank, than a provider of services.`

Flanagan thinks that the public trusts charities. It`s about time we started to see through them as well as our Government.