Saturday, November 15, 2008

Child protection is everyone's business

There was an article in the Daily Herald a couple of years ago after a couple of shocking and tragic cases where young children died - one, five years old, was beaten, thrown down a flight of stairs, then left to die alone in her bedroom. The other, two years old, was found dead in his bed after drinking methadone that belonged to his registered drug-addict parents. The article asked various people what needed to change to stop these tragedies from happening in the future. What Maggie Mellon, from the charity Children 1st, said was this:

"It is quite clear from all of these recent cases that social work or agencies alone in that way are not going to be able to fully protect children in the community, " she said. "People will think the authorities will deal with it - we are saying that child protection is everybody's business."

I understand why so many people are saying that 'heads must roll' in Haringey Council's social services department after the unimaginably horrific death of Baby P, but I don't agree. There is always an urge to try and make sense in this sort of situation by identifying someone whose fault was responsible, and against whom action can be taken in order to make sure nothing like this happens ever again.

Lots of people, for example, have said that Sharon Shoesmith, Director of Children's and Young People's Services in Haringey, ought to resign - she's in charge, so she is to blame. But here's what 68 headteachers have to say about her work:

“Should the Child P case result in her loss from the borough, then our children and young people will lose one of their most effective, determined and committed champions.”

“Initially, in her role of director of education, Shoesmith transformed a demoralised education service, derided by many headteachers, into one with which we are now proud to be associated.

“The exceptional rate of improvement of many of the borough’s schools would not have been possible without the support of the service that Ms Shoesmith rebuilt, revitalised and led.

“Since more recently becoming the director of Haringey’s Children and Young People’s Service, Shoesmith has continued to work relentlessly and with a determination that the service she leads and develops ensures best practice in providing education, care, support and protection for all of our young people.”

There's no reason why these headteachers, the people who work with her and know her work, would choose this time to defend her publicly if they didn't sincerely believe it (and the exceptional rate of improvement is confirmed by independent stats). The logic that Haringey Council is uniquely bad and therefore the solution is to sack a very able senior officer with an 'exceptional' track record of transforming poorly performing services...that doesn't sound to me like it is likely to help safeguard vulnerable children.

Neither senior directors nor structures or procedures aren't enough to protect children if the professionals, whether social workers or paediatricians, aren't doing their job properly. (Though, as an aside about the current structures, it is pretty pathetic when a Labour MP who voted for the 2004 Children Act writes this kind of ill-informed drivel which makes it abundantly clear that he doesn't have even the most basic knowledge of the system which he helped put in place or how little flexibility there is for individuals in the current system).

The effect of a lot of the coverage over the past week will be to make matters worse, rather than better, in the future. 12% of social work posts across the country are currently unfilled, and many more jobs are being done by people who have unmanageable caseloads or are having to deal with problems that their training and competencies haven't adequately prepared them for. This is even before days of sustained vilification in some of the best-selling newspapers, which is unlikely to bring in many more recruits. There are plenty of Sun readers, for example, who would make brilliant social workers, but who are even less likely now to contemplate it as a career.

One thing which I hope the review and/or the government will look at is about what is needed in order to persuade more and better suited people to consider social work and other kinds of child protection work as a career in the future - and that the newspapers who have written articles about how what happened to baby P must never happen again think about how they can play a part in encouraging more good people to become social workers, and educate their readers about ways that they can play their part in safeguarding children.

I'll finish this by quoting from an e-mail I got sent from a friend:

'Do we sack the directors of hospitals when doctors are unable to save someone who refused to take their medicines? Of course not.

Last night there was a murder, the first for years, on Broadwater Farm. Do we demand the sacking of the Borough Commander or the local bobby? Of course not.

We recognize there are limits to the power of State agency to prevent outcomes: we recognize, in the power government has, the asymmetry between the good it can do and the evil it can prevent.
Above all, ironically, I would expect Tories to recognize this.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing": but we need to remember that this means that actually fighting evil is much, much harder than simply being good, and the standards we should apply to the success or otherwise of those who fight evil should reflect the complexity and challenge of the task they are seeking to perform. One baby has died, horribly and revoltingly at the hands of some extremely unpleasant and disturbed human beings. But numbers we cannot estimate have been saved.'


At 11:00 am , Anonymous Paul said...

An excellent post full of stuff I'd have said if I'd been as articulate as you, and one worth of a 'recommend' on the B4L machine. I too was horrified at the MP's post.

I may comment more fully later, but what intrigues/horrifies me in the aftermath is the differing reactions to the social workers and the medical professions involved; while Social Workers take the 'limelight', the MSM seems mainly content to let doctors do their own self-regulation behind closed doors, and the consultant paediatrician feels able to talk about 'systemic failure' as though she stands outside the system in some way, notwithstanding her failure to attend case conferences on a case she says she had already expressed concern, and failure to get hold of relevant minutes for a case she had her name attached to.

This isn't an attack on her, or the medical profession, as much as a reflection on the different positioning of two professions (and teachers?) who are supposed to be after the same thing.

There's a lot in their about the often awkward relationship between 'systems' and professional autonomomy, the unintended consequences of, for example, the Safeguarding Children, process, and the need to revalue workers on the front line and what makes them tick.

More later maybe, but well done on bringing some sanity to the whole hysteria of the 'debate'.

At 9:57 am , Blogger Letters From A Tory said...

There is absolutely no way that the Director of Children's Services should be the one investigating her own competence over the Baby P case. In the news today, it has been reported that the police wanted to take Baby P away from his family but social services wouldn't let them. So much for the Director's glowing recommendations.

At 9:48 am , Blogger Letters From A Tory said...

Anyone who is 'proud to be associated' with Haringey council right now needs their head tested.

In case you're interested, I sent Ed Balls a letter on my blog yesterday explaining why his reaction to Baby P has almost been as bad as Haringeys.

At 11:03 am , Anonymous Tom said...

"I sent Ed Balls a letter on my blog yesterday"

I'm sure that's a really effective way of communicating with him.

At 6:27 pm , Blogger Robert said...

Well as you know when we the public write letters to ministers it normally gets sent to some weird nobody who tells you they are looking into it, will get back to you some time in the future.

At 8:49 am , Anonymous Business Journal said...

Nice blog dear i have really learn a lot from this blog thanks.

At 4:53 am , Blogger will said...

A片,A片,A片,A片,A片,A片情趣商品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣用品,情趣商品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣用品,情趣商品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣用品,,情趣,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品.情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,視訊聊天室,情趣,情趣用品,情趣,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣麻將,台灣彩卷,六合彩開獎號碼,運動彩卷,六合彩,遊戲,線上遊戲,cs online,搓麻將,矽谷麻將,明星三缺一, 橘子町,麻將大悶鍋,台客麻將,公博,game,,中華職棒,麗的線上小遊戲,國士無雙麻將,麻將館,賭博遊戲,威力彩,威力彩開獎號碼,龍龍運動網,史萊姆,史萊姆好玩遊戲,史萊姆第一個家,史萊姆好玩遊戲區,樂透彩開獎號碼,遊戲天堂,天堂,好玩遊戲,遊戲基地,無料遊戲王,好玩遊戲區,麻將遊戲,好玩遊戲區,小遊戲,電玩快打情趣用品,情趣,A片,AIO,AV,AV女優,A漫,免費A片,情色,情色貼圖,色情小說,情色文學,色情,寄情竹園小遊戲,色情遊戲,AIO交友愛情館,色情影片,情趣內衣,情趣睡衣,性感睡衣,情趣商品,微風成人,嘟嘟成人網,成人,18成人,成人影城,成人圖片,成人貼圖,成人圖片區,UT聊天室,聊天室,豆豆聊天室 ,哈啦聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,聊天室尋夢園,080苗栗人聊天室,080聊天室,視訊交友網,視訊借錢,黃金,黃金回收,黃金價格,黃金買賣,當舖,中古車,二手車A片,A片,成人網站,成人影片,色情,情色網,情色,AV,AV女優,成人影城,成人,色情A片,日本AV,免費成人影片,成人影片,SEX,免費A片,A片下載,免費A片下載,做愛,情色A片,色情影片,H漫,A漫,18成人,情色電影,自拍,成人電影a片,色情影片,情色電影,a片,色情,情色網,情色,av,av女優,成人影城,成人,色情a片,日本av,免費成人影片,成人影片,情色a片,sex,免費a片,a片下載,免費a片下載,成人網站,做愛,自拍A片,A片,A片下載,做愛,成人電影,18成人,日本A片,情色小說,情色電影,成人影城,自拍,情色論壇,成人論壇,情色貼圖,情色,免費A片,成人,成人光碟18成人,成人聊天室,成人電影,成人圖片,成人貼圖,成人圖片區,成人影片,成人文章,成人小說,微風成人區,成人交友,成人文學,成人漫畫,成人遊戲,免費成人影片 ,成人論壇,愛情公寓,情色,色情網站,情色A片,色情小說,情色文學


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home