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Thursday, 5 September 2013

All children deserve monitoring because if it saves just one child it will be worth it

Some people insist that all children deserve to have their educational provision monitored. To me, this view is warped. I cannot understand it at all. The notion that all children deserve monitoring is like saying all people should be viewed with suspicion, or all people need to be watched because they are inherently untrustworthy. But who is doing the watching? And who is watching the watchers? And who is watching them? No. Surveillance should be kept to a minimum. All children deserve freedom from surveillance is my take on it.

All children deserve a good education, yes. We are all agreed on that. But no monitoring does not equal no education. The two are not linked at all. So the problem lies in the fact that the state believes it has a duty to ensure that the education is good, which it doesn't. That is the parent's duty. If the state declared itself parent in educational matters it would find itself in a whole heap of trouble.

In all matters of law, people are considered to be doing their legal duties until such time as there is evidence to the contrary. This is because our laws are based on the presumption of innocence. It is a basic tenet of British law and it applies to all parental duties too. I could be doing any number of things that the state may not approve of, or which may be explicitly illegal, but the state has to assume that I am not. It can't act without suspicion and it cannot discriminate on the grounds that I choose different things to the majority of the population. In short, the state cannot intervene simply because it doesn't know what I get up to in private.

I don't care that the state doesn't know what I'm doing in the privacy of my own home. Nobody knows what goes on in our house unless I or my children decide to share it with people, which we do, with friends and family. If I was confident that my children would be well educated and properly looked after by the state and I didn't have the time or inclination to attend to their needs myself, I would send them to school. Presumably I would no longer require monitoring if I did that despite the fact that I wouldn't know if I was adequately discharging my parental duties as I wasn't even there!

Now I appreciate that it is easier to tell if a child is not properly clothed or adequately fed than it is to tell if they are receiving an education or not. This might reasonably lead a person to believe that some other form of monitoring should be required IF it was the state's business. But it isn't, it's lawful and private family business. I won't budge on this point. I've looked at it from every angle and while I accept that there are some horrible people out there, they cannot be allowed to dictate what happens to innocent families. It's bad enough that they have the power to cause horrible things within their own families.

I hate the notion of collateral damage, but even more I hate the notion of "if it saves one child it will be worth it" because that comes with its own collateral damage; the thousands of children who have learned that their homes are not safe from state intrusion, that their parents cannot protect them from over-zealous social workers, or even that the state considers their loving parents to be a danger to them. And that's assuming that stretching the resources of social services ever further, by introducing compulsory monitoring, won't have a negative impact on those who really need help. That's assuming that making the haystack bigger will make the needle easier to find. A curious idea, wouldn't you say?

Would I let a clipboard monitor from the council into my home to assess my educational provision? No, I would not. They are no more qualified than the postman to pass judgment and I don't recognise their authority nor do I need their praise or recognition. As for support, I guess some live in cuckoo land on that one. Yes, some LAs are quite supportive, most are not. They don't understand the law, they misrepresent it in their communications and on their websites, they lie outright to new or potential home educators, they fabricate "concerns" and "worried phonecalls from concerned citizens" to get their foot in the door, they turn up mob-handed in an attempt to intimidate, they constantly call for more powers when they abuse, or simply don't use, the powers they already have. That is not to say I know everything or never need support, it's just that I go to my friends and family for these things, because they are the ones who care about me and my children. At best, LAs are paid to provide services, paid to "care", if you like, though I appreciate there are some wonderful people who work in EHE, child protection and, of course, schools. I would, of course, be cooperative if there were proper demonstrable concerns but I make no apologies for not cooperating with unlawful demands, unwarranted intrusion and incompetent and prejudiced state employees.

If most parents are trustworthy and have their children's best interests at heart, which I firmly believe is the case, why do we need these great protectors of children for all children? I am the great protector of my children. It's tragic that this is not the case for all children but social services should be there for the vulnerable ones. To redirect resources to areas where no problem has been proven to exist betrays a cruel obstinacy. Local authority personnel who behave in the ways stated above are untrustworthy and I wouldn't let them near my children. I don't care if my declining services annoys them or makes them suspicious. It says a whole lot more about their willingness to blindly accept surveillance in their own lives than it does about my ability to educate my children.

That said, I know people who do accept monitoring. Some do so because they have ex-partners who need placating and an official report from the authorities seems to do the trick. There are all sorts of reasons why people accept monitoring and I respect their right to choose it. I have no power over my children to insist they perform tricks for strangers and I wouldn't want to guilt-trip them into it. They are at liberty to show off their abilities to anyone they choose though I'd caution them against bragging. There may be an assumption that those declining visits have something to hide, but that is not a reasonable assumption. I have nothing to hide under these clothes but that doesn't mean I'd accept or relish the opportunity to reveal myself, not even if I could be sure the world is ready for it, though others might. That is their choice.

Essentially, I don't want others deciding on a whim what freedoms my family should be allowed to have. I resent the notion that parental rights are at the opposite end of a spectrum to children's rights. They are not. Yes, in this country parents have the right to have their children educated according to their wishes, regardless of where that education takes place, but above all parents have duties. It is my duty (in law) to provide my children with a suitable education, to feed, clothe and house them. It is a pleasure and an honour to do it. It is my duty to uphold my children's rights and I expect the government to intervene only if I fail in my duties. I will always protect my family, I will always love my children, I will always do what is best for them and I don't need payment, supervision or a government mandate to do it. I am a parent and that's all the motivation I need.

This is based almost entirely on a forum post I made earlier in the year.

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