Speaking at the `Transforming children`s services conference` in Perth, Louise Morpeth from the Dartington Research Unit, informed the audience that "Perth and Kinross was actually a pilot site for a piece of work that was sponsored by the Annie E Casey Foundation and supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation."
"There`s 24,000 children in Perth and Kinross; over 8,000 of them took part in the wellbeing survey and we had over 800 parents participate on the wellbeing of children zero to eight."
The results and analysis provided Dartington Research Unit with certain information: "We know that the majority of children who have needs are not in contact with specialist services and we know that there are children who are in receipt of services who do not have high levels of need... Typically one in five children have [needs]."
These `needs`were unspecified but they do seem to amount to a great many children. "One of the wonderful things about the data is that we can disaggregate it down to the level of schools," says Louise Morpeth. Unfortunately, that did not go down well for the people in Comrie whose primary schoolchildren were given a very negative report from Evidence2Success despite a very positive report from HMIE in 2012. It does make you wonder about the validity of the survey.
Dee Thomas, a very angry mother of a ten year old boy, who was subjected to the survey, now campaigns for NO2NP. "My 10 year old son was asked: Do people in your family often shout in each other`s faces? Do you carry a knife? Have you used cannabis over the last 30 days? If he had been 14 he would have been asked if he had had anal sex. But what made me really angry was my boy was asked if he thought he was no good at all...and if he thought his life just wasn`t worth it. My son was asked a suicide question with the blessing of the Information Commissioner. Creepy and Weird? I call it stealing his innocence without my permission."
Elsewhere she writes:
Evidence2success [was] devised in America after the Columbine High School Shootings, to predict future shootings.* It has been developed by various university bodies in the US who are hell bent on violence prevention via data collection. This they say can be achieved by predicting future adolescent and adult behaviour by collecting data throughout each child's life, and apparently even from before birth...
After a prolonged campaign, some parents in Perthshire have now managed to convince the Scottish Government that there are serious flaws running through the entire Evidence2Success proposition.
"When budgets are contracting...," says Louise Morpeth, "I hate to state the obvious but services are very very reluctant to be decommissioned and when there`s no new money, the only place money comes from to do new things is by stopping something you do."
That`s a tough call: Stop doing some of the things you are doing now, even when budgets are contracting, in order to invest in preventing problems before they happen. Reap the benefits at some point in the future, maybe.
Or as Dee Thomas has said: "If you spend all this money monitoring everybody you`re going to have less money to spend caring for the most vulnerable."
See Blueprints for Europe: Promoting Evidence-based Programmes in Children`s Services
* I wonder if Evidence2Success investigates the effects of antidepressants and other medications on adolescents, particularly with regard to school shootings. If it doesn`t, it`s a poor survey.