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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Didn't I say they'd come for you next?

Didn't I say they'd come for you next? Too many visits to A & E with your kids? Got a bit of a clumsy child on your hands?

Health and Safety snoops to enter family homes

The government is obsessed with monitoring and control - the Badman Report is indisputable proof of this. Our family is currently under threat of intrusive and excessive measures, and if the legislation goes through we'll be classified as "at risk". NICE is not quite so nice - it's the organisation behind a list of indicators of child abuse that include wariness of strangers & friendly to strangers, independent of parent & too clingy with parent - all of which rely on the interpretation/subjectivity/prejudices of SWs. I can just see them with their tick sheets, keeps at 'recognised' safe distance from parent, tick, keeps a suitable distance from strangers, tick. I think that at community level most people engaged in child welfare are good people trying their best to do a thankless job with a crappy tool kit and maximum interference and criticism from a failing government.

Using methods of snooping and spying to gather information is unethical. And let's face it, if this was really about safeguarding children there are other measures which could prove more effective. There are always other ways, but this government thinks of the ways in which it can do it through surveillance and control, while always passing the buck. SWs will get it in the neck. Schools will get it in the neck. Hospitals will get it in the neck. Local authorities will get it in the neck. The laws come directly from government, and although many of its agencies are complicit, I wonder how much of a choice they really have and, ultimately, the government never has to work with the laws it creates. It never has to interpret them on the ground, and consistently points the finger at those that do and get it wrong from time to time.

Creeping totalitarianism is not what this country needs. If the government refuses to see alternative measures that do not involve surveillance, monitoring and control then we have to rub their noses in those alternative measures. It is not enough to say, if it saves just one child it is worth it. The liberty of all is not a sacrifice we should have to make.

Statistically, more children die in road accidents. Shall we ban cars? Well we couldn't do that. There would be no fuel tax and the public transport system infrastructure's fucked. That would be a problem for government. That said, I wouldn't put it past them to make in-car CCTV and other technology compulsory for persistent speeders or drivers with convictions for drink-driving.

I said before that the ECM paper would get everyone in trouble. I said that after they came for the home educators, they'd go for the single mothers, the low income families. And here it is. Next, children of smokers, children who are overweight/underweight. After that, they'll start inventing reasons to intrude, probably using the kind of made up words you see on adverts for anti-wrinkle cream. Before you know it, Mr and Mrs Daily Mail will be under investigation for allowing the dog to lick little George's face. And they were such model parents.

Instead of snooping and spying...
Legislation for landlords to fit safety equipment (definition of landlord to be revised).
Legislation on foreign imports to comply with British safety standards.
Shops that sell items which do not comply have stock removed and get a fine.
The government provides parents of newborns with a bunch of free stuff when the baby is born - this could be revised to include safety equipment, including plastic plugs, thermometer strips, bath temp thermo, carbon monoxide detector, info leaflet on where to get government subsidised equipment like stair gates, window locks, smoke alarms and how to fit them, etc (sure start centres already do this for some home safety items). Families on income support could receive this for free. Still a whole lot cheaper than those hospital bills and without all the intrusive measures. What's wrong with that? No surveillance, no control, that's what.

We mustn't forget that, still, in a lot of households, it is the men who hold the purse and the women that hold the baby and are seen as responsible if the child is injured. There is a lot of resentment and fear of authority among the groups of people that these kinds of measures would be aimed at. There will be resentment and suspicion of such intrusive tactics. Women might feel they are being blamed, that they are powerless under the scrutiny and judgement of others, that they are powerless to change things for the better in their own household, that even though they do their best, they cannot spend 24 hours a day with their eyes on their child and without the money for such safety equipment, they have no choice but to go without. More crucially, women may find that they are reluctant to seek help if they feel they will be judged. They may not take their child to hospital for fear of being accused of abuse or neglect. This is already happening.

Also, imposing intervention is something I would prefer to see reserved for the criminally abusive or neglectful, not every parent who happens to find themselves in a particular social category. It seriously sucks!

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