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To be outraged about this!

(108 Posts)
BlessThisMess Fri 12-Jun-09 10:50:03

(Thanks to 'Anonymous' on the DareToKnow blogspot for this):

Since the majority of children who die at the hands of their parents are aged under 5, maybe the following regulations ought to be brought in. This seems the next logical step after the Government has accepted these same recommendations for Home Educators. At least there is some evidence of risk for the under 5s!

Recommendation 1
That the government establishes a compulsory national registration scheme, locally administered, for all children from birth to statutory school age who do not attend a nursery [though this idea seems particularly ironic ATM].

This scheme should be common to all local authorities.

Registration should be renewed annually.

Those who are registering for the first time should be visited by the appropriate local authority officer within one month of registration.... etc

Recommendation 7

The DCSF should bring forward proposals to change the current regulatory and statutory basis to ensure that in monitoring the safety of infants and young children:

That designated local authority officers should:

- have the right of access to the home;

- have the right to physically examine pre-verbal children [how else could they check for abuse in a pre-verbal child] and speak with older child alone if deemed appropriate or, if a child is particularly vulnerable or has particular communication needs, in the company of a trusted person who is not the parent/carer.

In so doing, officers will be able to satisfy themselves that the child is safe and well.... etc.

Honestly, would you accept this level of interference into yours and your children's lives? I think not. I think there would be an absolute public outcry. Why then is it OK for home educators to be subject to this level of intrusion and scrutiny?

lljkk Fri 12-Jun-09 10:58:27

Are Home-edders less likely to abuse their children than other types of parents? NO.
Are Home-ed children less likely to be observed by adults who might detect and report signs of abuse? Yes.

So, do you think the govt. should just ignore the possibility of abuse in home-ed children? If not, what should Govt. do instead to try to find the tiny minority of abusers?

BlessThisMess Fri 12-Jun-09 11:01:30

No, the point is that parents of under 5s are assumed to be good parents unless there is evidence to the contrary, whether or not they regularly attend an external institution that can monitor their wellbeing. Whereas the evidence is that most children who die at the hands of their parents are aged under 5. So they should be in line for the same level of scrutiny, should they not? and if not, why not?

BlessThisMess Fri 12-Jun-09 11:02:36

Would you really want a stranger to be able to come into your house and question your children without you present, for no reason at all and when there is absolutely no evidence at all that there is anything unpleasant going on?

mayorquimby Fri 12-Jun-09 11:06:42

seems reactionary and over the top. see the problem is that when a child does die at the hands of abuse there is the initial backlash reaction of "where were the authorities/the government should have done something/we have to prevent this happening again" and then when they look to do something which inevitably has to erode certain civil liberties of the parents or give the relevant authorities greater access to the kids then the other backlash begins of "nanny state/criminalising everyone etc"
i don't know enough about the intricacies of child abuse or the states role to say who' right and who's wrong but i would welcome them at least trying to make progress and opening up a dialogue.

lljkk Fri 12-Jun-09 11:17:13

But it already happens, BlessTM, somebody can get reported anonymously to SS or the NSPCC on the say-so of anybody, and then SS have the right to investigate as they see fit, although the allegations might be completely fabricated. At least this would be blanket routine screening, and only for people who have opted out of the usual ways of engaging with nursery education or who don't have any registered child-carers. Health visitors would typically having contact with the youngst children, it's really the 18m-5yo group they're targetting.

l39 Fri 12-Jun-09 13:44:36

I hate letting people into my home and I would loathe being looked on as an unfit parent until proven otherwise.

I'd still vote in favour of this if the opportunity arose. Better to inconvenience 1000 good parents than let one child die who could have been saved.

I remember when my oldest daughter was 10 days old and we had the last midwife visit. From then on it was up to me if I ever took her to be weighed at the clinic or even immunised. I did go, of course, but it was scary to think we could have been completely unsupervised from that point on.

BlessThisMess Fri 12-Jun-09 13:56:27

Yes, it can happen if somebody is reported to SS, but I can bet my life that you would be outraged if it happened to you - if somebody knocked on your door and accused you of abusing your own children and insisted on inspecting them and talking to them without you being present when there is NO EVIDENCE of anything being wrong. And especially if they did so just because you are a member of some minority group, e.g. a smoker, or a vegetarian.

If the Government was doing such a fabulous job of running and enforcing its existing child protection policies, and if its schools were all successful and producing a vast majority of children who could at least read and write at the end of their primary education, then maybe they'd have grounds for wanting to follow up on those who, in actual fact are doing a hell of a lot better job in both education and welfare (the home-educating parents) than the Govt. is.

l39 Fri 12-Jun-09 14:16:43

Your original post focuses on parents of under-5s - there's no compulsory education for under-5s so aren't you changing your argument by concentrating on home-educating parents?

Oh, and my own mum (who has mental health problems) once went to the health visitor and said we weren't looking after our second daughter properly. The health visitor visited us once, saw that Mum was making unfounded allegations and went away again. I wasn't outraged with the health visitor at all.

BlessThisMess Fri 12-Jun-09 14:25:05

I don't know if I wasn't being clear, or if it's just not being read properly.

My point is that I am outraged at the suggestions in the latest review on Home Education. The recommendations in my OP ARE probably going to be put into place for home educators. And I think it's appalling.

And I phrased it (taken from someone else as I said originally) in terms of under-5s to show how outrageous and ridiculous the recommendations are. Nobody would think it reasonable to do that for under-5s, and therefore neither should it be reasonable for home-educators.

andiem Fri 12-Jun-09 14:28:31

Either we want children to be protected or we don't. I agree with quimby that everyone is moral outrage when a child dies but when the governemnt try to do something to protect children everyone is outraged at that.
They can't win.
The problem for home educators is that their children aren't seen by teachers etc so the state has no way of knowing if they are safe or not. If you have nothing to hide then why would you be worried about it?

BlessThisMess Fri 12-Jun-09 18:10:06


There is always a balance to be struck between the protection of the vulnerable and the rights to privacy of a group of predominantly innocent people. Police are not allowed to randomly stop and search, or breath-test drivers, despite the fact that they may be unfit to drive and kill someone, unless there is a good reason to suspect so and stop them. It is impossible to absolutely guarantee the safety of every child in the country without utterly intolerable levels of intrusion from the state. Look at the messages on MN from those people objecting to health visitors, and their intrusion and advice. I never objected to mine, but many people do.

I don't have anything to hide, but I do object to my life and my parenting being subject to scrutiny for no reason, just because I choose to educate my child free from school with its rigid rules, routines, testing, narrow curriculum (compared to the whole of life) and the bullying that drives all too many children to depression and even suicide. Safe at school? I think not.

oliverboliverbutt Fri 12-Jun-09 18:24:49

These recommendations aren't just to keep children safe I'm afraid. This was a way in for the government to fundamentally change the rights that home educators have in this country. It's a smoke screen to get you onside.

They not only want access to the home and your child alone (remember, many HE kids have SEN and would find this sort of intrusion frightening), but also want to be able to regulate what is being taught. I suspect eventually making parents use the national curriculum.

The argument about having nothing to hide is exactly why your rights and the rights of your children are being systematically stripped away.

MIAonline Fri 12-Jun-09 18:27:41

BlessThisMess, I actually agree with some kind of 'state' visit to all children that are not in the system iyswim. How that works and how intrusive it is is up for some serious debate. The health visitor system could just extended to ensure every child is seen, regardless of age.

I don't see why giving every child the opportunity to meet with a professional, at the minimum once a year, is such a problem to you. Not everbody has te best intentions to children and if those children are not in the systenm they have no chance of being helped.

Obviously there are some serious issues with 'physical examinations' in your OP, but not having read the document you have posted from I presumed it would be if there was concerns, not as a matter of course?

MIAonline Fri 12-Jun-09 18:28:07

Sorry for typos

scaryteacher Fri 12-Jun-09 18:35:32

That would evidently extend to all children who are privately educated then, as they are also 'outside' the system? This is unwarranted and intrusive state interference. By all means, check on their educational progress, but I would be REALLY livid if someone tried to do a physical inspection of my ds without my being present, or without my consent, and he's 13!

The government will obviously want to extend this to all UK children who live abroad as well then, as they are 'outside' the system, and may well not be seen by a Brit doctor or teacher from one year to the next.

MIAonline Fri 12-Jun-09 18:57:57

I can't see why being privately educated would count as, presumably, children are in a position to be seen and be offered support, which is the crux of why I think children do need the opportunity to be kept in the system. As for being abroad, if it was a permanent move then those children will be under whatever care 'systems' (if any!) that country offers.

I am not saying it is ideal, but I do think you have to bear in mind those people who will abuse the ability to never have their child seen and hide them away from society.

I too would be horrified by a physical examination of DC without being present and without my consent, but as I said in my earlier post this is presumably if there are concerns and i believe that those powers would exist within SS presently if that was the case anyway.

BlessThisMess Fri 12-Jun-09 19:31:01

MIAonline - if the proposal was to have a visit to every child not attending school (i.e. the under-5s) as well, then maybe home educators would not feel so under attack. But the news this week proves that attending nursery does not prevent abuse, right under the eyes of all the rest of the staff. The vast majority of children who ARE being abused are attending school, and many of them are not being noticed. Why else would it be going on for years before it is dealt with?

Going to school does not guarantee a child's safety. On the contrary, "A grieving mother whose teenage son hanged himself as his GCSE exams approached has spoken movingly of the unbearable stress that drove him to suicide. Robert McAllister, 16, was so terrified of failure that he took his own life just days before he was due to sit his first mock exam last December, an inquest into his death was told. Fighting back tears Melanie Crawcour, 39, said: "I want others to learn from this. Today's teenagers are under so much stress - much more than we were. "I told him exams were not everything and I would love him whatever grades he got."

"It is no great surprise that new research by the Children's Society finds that 58% of young people are worried about exams, and 47% "often worried about school work".

"More than a quarter of 11- to 18-year-olds are tutored at some point during their schooling, according to research by the Institute of Education. And the fastest growing area is in the primary sector."

""Before I came here, I was special-needs co-ordinator at a huge north London state school, and I saw how little actually gets done for children with learning difficulties," she says. "You could recommend a child for special-needs tutoring, but it would be months before that was acted on. And, in the end, all they'd do was sort of Velcro-on a learning support assistant to that child. If you were lucky, the assistant was trained; if not, it would be the dinner lady."

"But this charming vision, of children of different needs learning happily together, has foundered on the harsh reality of resources and targets. Far from bringing children together, it has too often left vulnerable pupils friendless, bewildered and jeered at as oddities in a system still geared to the abilities of the mainstream."

"Today 55,000 young people will be absent from school because they are being bullied - that is one-third of all truancies. These shocking figures are findings from research published this week by the charity Beatbullying (BB). "

"An 11-year-old boy hanged himself from his bunk bed after being subjected to months of bullying on the school bus, an inquest has heard."

"Suspensions at schools in England for racist abuse went up by 29 per cent to more than 3,300 in 2005, according to Department of Education figures. There was also an increase in the number of pupils suspended for attacks on adults and other students, while suspensions for verbal abuse, bullying and sexual misconduct also shot up."

Do I really need to go on? Do you really think school ensures the safety and wellbeing of your child? If so, you really need to read the newspapers a bit more.

onlinemum Fri 12-Jun-09 19:33:12

I think it's difficult to get the full flavour of this review without reading it all, and I can also see why many parents might think that registration and annual visits where someone speaks to the child alone without the parent present could be a good idea. Realistically though, is this going to stop child abuse? How many of the children known to the authorities were visited and seen way more often than once a year and it made no difference to them? The welfare issue is a complete red herring and is being used to sneak complete control of home education on to the political agenda.

What we actually need to do is to strengthen the systems already in place and get them working, so that we don't continue to have children dying under the noses of the welfare system that should be helping them. I don't think any of the recent high profile cases have involved children unknown to the system so I think that adding to the size of the haystack by dragging all home educated kids into the equation is actually going to make things worse for the next Baby P or Victoria.

MIAonline Fri 12-Jun-09 19:47:12

BlessThisMess, you seem to have mistaken my agreement for children to be given the opportunity for someone to at least see a child in its lifetime, for my disagreeing with HE.

I am actually fully behind HE and thinks it is a fantastic opportunity for parents and children.

Your post seems very confrontational in style and whilst I can understand why you are so passionate about the issue of this possible regulation, and you will know far more about it than me, I don't think posting a stream of stats about the problems with school and how schools don't always help vulnerable children, helps your argument.

You posted in AIBU, I answered, if you just wanted people to agree with you, perhaps you should have stayed in the HE topic.

MIAonline Fri 12-Jun-09 19:51:38

I also think onlinemum gives a more balanced view and makes some good points and I agree with the strengthening of current systems such as HV team and including HE children in that, rather than a new system, which may serve other purposes as onlinemum says about sneaking complete control of home education onto the political agenda, which I am also against.

Doobydoo Fri 12-Jun-09 20:02:04

Many children are seen numerous times by the SS,A AND E,GP'S and Health Visitors,yet the abuse is not noticed or the system loses them.
I think part of the Home Ed intrusion is to do with control...AND NO i AM NOT A CONSPIRACY THEORIST.
All sounds like an utter white wash at the moment.Systems can be in place and workers are so overstretched that children get over looked etc.Could say more and probably make better sense but in a rush!

katiestar Fri 12-Jun-09 21:28:51

It usually seems to be that one of these horrendous child abuse cases appear on TV, that the child is already known to SS.
I would absolutely resent having a compulsory annual check-up visit.
I think it would be a huge civil liberties issue if the government attempted to bring it in.

onlinemum Fri 12-Jun-09 23:43:13

To be honest, if it was just registration and an annual visit, I think we'd be grumbling but divided over it. But that isn't the half of it. Our children are to be interviewed without our presence, and what they say will be taken over our wishes. Now I can't think there is a parent who hasn't heard of the Orkney satanic child abuse cases or indeed many of the other cases where social workers have misunderstood or misled children into saying things they didn't mean. So how comfortable would you be with a local authority worker interviewing your child without you present, and most probably a local authority worker at that who doesn't think what you are doing with your life, whatever that may, is reasonable.

Now do you see why home educators are feeling unreasonably threatened?

This is the first step towards the state taking a very unhealthy level of involvement in family life. Spot checks on welfare without any reasonable suspicion of abuse? Just because of lifestyle?

What about if they come after religious families because of the spare the rod spoil the child approach advocated by some fundamentalist groups? How would any religious families feel then?

But this is not about welfare. It's about control. The state is meant to be the parent of last resort, not the one to decide how our lives are supposed to be lived.

daisy5678 Sat 13-Jun-09 00:39:17

I would rather 99 people got slightly annoyed by the state's 'unreasonable interference' in their lives than 1 child suffered because their carers were using Home Ed to cover up something sinister.

I'm sorry - sometimes you have to accept a minor inconvenience, even if it doesn't fit with what you'd like to happen on the basis that it will actually do someone else some good.

I hate the inconvenience of having and making others have CRB checks left, right and centre. I could get outraged at the inconvenience and fuss and hassle of providing paperwork. But I get why it's necessary.

I know of a woman who took her son out of school to 'Home Ed' him, after a long period of non-attendance at school and suspicion of medics that she had Munchausen's by Proxy. Home Ed meant that education left her alone and couldn't let health know what was happening; it totally broke down the multi-agency working and she was allowed to get on with it while her poor son became more and more isolated. Eventually, he was removed, but that was only because the dad fought for custody.

Bollocks to civil liberties. Surely the 99.9% of annoying-but-everyone-comes-out-smiling visits are justified by the 1% that routes out something untoward, or prevents something untoward from happening because they know monitoring is happening.

I think it's selfish to bleat about civil liberties, tbh. It's unhealthy for the state not to have an interest in family life, especially when a lot of people are making a royal fuck up of it and of their kids.

None of this is about me thinking schools are better than Home Ed, even though I'm a teacher. Home Ed sounds wonderful and I envy those of you who do it and those who it works for. But I think communities protect kids and isolation can be abused. Checks seem to be the best of both worlds to me.

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