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To think we need a complete re-think of child protection?

(109 Posts)
Feelingoptimistic Wed 12-Aug-09 10:28:16

Like many others, I have been thinking a lot about the Baby P case. What I completely fail to understand is why no one did anything earlier. Have we all become too PC? Is it considered ok for children to live somewhere where there is dog poo on the floor?
This morning I just read this:

The thing is that in most of these cases the death of the child follows months of abuse and neglect - so there is an opportunity to spot what is happening and prevent it. I think we need a system of consistent monitoring of children and early intervention when things don't seem right.

Mamazon Wed 12-Aug-09 10:31:17

but the reason that cases like this are big news (rightly so) is that in the grand scheme of things they are very rare indeed.

NOt the treatment of the child, in fact that is depressingly common. but the way that these mistakes by many different people overlapped in such a way that allowed his tragic death.

yes of course there needs to changes made to child protection but most of those changes revolve around money and the severe lack of it.

and no amount of inquiries will manage that

FlamingoBingo Wed 12-Aug-09 10:31:35

We already have a system like that in place, feeling. It's just not used properly by the incompetent twits who are meant to implement it. Baby P didn't need more monitoring than he was already getting from social workers, doctors, nurses etc. He needed those people to actually do something about it.

More monitoring is the last thing we need!

makipuppy Wed 12-Aug-09 10:37:10

Unfortunately, cases like baby p being devoured by the media makes morale in the SS even lower, making it even harder to get staff, meaning they employ ever less capable staff and....

Morloth Wed 12-Aug-09 10:37:22

Imagine living in a society where something like this is not a source of outrage?

I have no idea what the answers are. A good idea I heard once was to have a look at using retired military types as social workers. They are unlikely to be intimidated, less likely to believe stupid stories etc...but even that wouldn't help if there was no back up.

Social worker is not a job I would touch with a 10 foot pole. Seems to me that you are almost sent out to view the misery with your hands tied behind your back.

Fayrazzled Wed 12-Aug-09 10:37:36

I honestly don't know what the answer is. It seems root and branch reform of child protection services is required, because we keep hearing of the same tragic cases over and over again.

I can't imagine what it must be like being a social worker. It's relatively low status, and poorly paid and one has to work with some of the most difficult families, as the baby P case demonstrates. I couldn't work in a job where I had to deal with families living in these types of circumstances day in and day out- it must be soul destroying. Some of the problems are so deeply ingrained. And also much more widespread than I think most of us realise. My brother is a policeman and TBH, the vast majority of his job is 'social work' rather than crime-fighting. Some of the stories he can tell about homes he has been to are staggering.

How on earth does one attract the best people to social work when the conditions and status of the job are thus? (I'm sure there are social workers on mumsnet and I'm not suggesting they're not good social workers who need replacing, just that it must be difficult to attract good applicants to the profession compared to other careers).

Lemonylemon Wed 12-Aug-09 10:37:43

I can't understand why people (ie. the professionals) don't stand up and actually DO something.

But at the same time, it must be hard when you're confronted with an aggressive parent who tells you to "F* off, its my child. Mind your own f* business...."

lal123 Wed 12-Aug-09 10:42:28

"I can't understand why people (ie. the professionals) don't stand up and actually DO something."

Whilst I agree that professionals do have some form of responsibility - what makes me sadder is that I can't understand why family members/neighbours/friends etc etc don't DO something. WE've had a recent case here where the estranged father of a baby who was killed by mums boyfriend while Mum was out working as a prostitute to get drug money was calling for the resignation of Director of social work for not DOING something. The father knew the situation the baby was living in - but did NOTHING.

We all have to take responsibility for these poor kids

Lemonylemon Wed 12-Aug-09 10:59:07

lal - I totally agree with you. In most of these cases, the extended family don't do anything and then cause a fuss afterwards.... Do abusers have some sort of hold over the extended family?

FWIW I've always got an ear out for the kids next door. Their Dad seems to have 5 Live permanently plugged in his ear and every so often, I hear him shouting at them for something (ie. not putting toilet seat down) which I find really sad. On the other hand, they play in the garden unsupervised (and by that I mean that an eye is not being kept on them) and the youngest who's 3, manages to tip a container of weed killer over the lawn. Why's the weed killer stored so low down?

Mamazon Wed 12-Aug-09 11:02:44

I think im a prime example fo the problem.
Im a SW.

I want to return to work but i doubt i will go back to full time SW. I will no doubt go back and work as a youthworker or maybe a support officer.

The money they pay me as a SW is not enough for teh hours i will need to be at the office, the stress i will be under and the impact that will have on my family. its not enough to make me ignore being called a c*nt every day, to have people threaten me, to be vilified by the public every time i open the paper.

So basically the only people who are wanting to stay in the job are either saints or people who are just happy to collect the paycheck because its more than asda are paying

Feelingoptimistic Wed 12-Aug-09 11:06:44

Flamingo - but that's partly what I mean - the social workers, etc. who saw baby P did nothing - they saw that there was neglect, but that was not enough for anyone to do anything.
Also, I think lots of children are neglected, but no one does anything about it.

As far as too much monitoring is concerned, I am not so sure about that. When my DD was born I had one visit from a health visitor. She gave me a form about PND to fill out. I never heard from her again. A few months later I went to see my GP about depression, as my circumstances had changed quite drastically and I was having a terrible time. At no time did anyone check to see if DD was ok. You would think that the HV would at least have called.

FlamingoBingo Wed 12-Aug-09 11:06:56

mamazon - just wanted to clarify that I wasn't saying that all SWs etc are imcompetent, but some undoubtedly are as evidenced by Baby P, Victoria Climbie, Eunice Spry's foster children.

There are incompetent people in all jobs. The point is, it's the incompetent people who cause the problems, not the systems, which are perfectly adequate as they are.

FlamingoBingo Wed 12-Aug-09 11:09:01

I disagree, Feeling. I haven't ever heard of a case of child abuse going unknown of in this country - only that bloke in Austria. It just isn't that easy to completely hide a child from the world. There is no justificiation at all for more invasion of privacy and interference in family life.

OrmIrian Wed 12-Aug-09 11:09:10

"Imagine living in a society where something like this is not a source of outrage?"

My thoughts exactly.

The fact that is is is the one crumb of comfort.

BitOfFun Wed 12-Aug-09 11:18:43

"I think we need a system of consistent monitoring of children and early intervention when things don't seem right." - this sounds a bit Orwellian to me.

There certainly needs to be A LOT more money spent on Social Work, so we can get family identified as needing support seen quickly and often. Children's centres and after school clubs help hugely too. The biggest problem as I see it though is that children in care's outcomes are so abysmal that leaving a seriously neglected child in its family of origin is seen as the lesser evil. We need far more foster families, and a way of rooting out the sadists and paedophiles who have always infested institutional care. How we could do that, however, is a bloody tricky question.

littleducks Wed 12-Aug-09 11:25:08

I also dont understand how ss works.
There was a under 2 being left alone, or in the care of younger children in the park here. I had no address just first names OF CHILD AND MUM. I told hv, who said to ring duty social worker. I rung duty social worker, who said to ring police non emergency next time it occured.

I did this, they sent someone out asked local kids in the park who walked them to childs home. I dont know what occured. Next day mum was in park, which was amazing as she had never been before. Sadly following day child is being left alone again, so i dont think whatever happened has worked.

Mamazon Wed 12-Aug-09 11:26:09

bit off tpoic but BOF just reminded me.
did you know there was a study in the US where everyone who wanted to work in this specific childrens centre had to sit and watch some various different porn pictures whilst being monitored. and every so often there would be a child in the photo.

they wanted to use it to check that none of them had paedophilic tendancies.

quite a good way of checking i guess but could you image the cost? and the trauma of forcing people to look at such images?

Feelingoptimistic Wed 12-Aug-09 11:28:27

Ok, I am not suggesting a big brother approach where parents live in fear that their children will get taken away. But the current system is not working.

FlamingoBingo Wed 12-Aug-09 11:29:11

BoF is right - we need more money spent on the things that should be being done when children at risk are identified. At the moment, there is no problem with identifying them, but actually protecting them is what is not working.

Mamazon Wed 12-Aug-09 11:32:46

agree totally. we have the laws in place, we have the procedures to indentify the children and families, what we need is the funds in order to do something about it once they have been identified.

new policy and foundations up reform is the last thing needed as it just makes everything unceratin again.
I qualified soon after The Lambing report into the Victoria Climbie incident so i was lucky in that i knew no other way. but some of the more experiences workers foiund it difficult to get used to the new style of doing things.

booyhoo Wed 12-Aug-09 11:43:07

lal123 wrt family not doing anything, i really do not understand it.

a very good friend of mine has a cousin who was in and out of care throughout her life along with her 2 siblings. her mother allowed men to abuse them sexually in return for drink and drugs and she physically abused and neglected them. all the family knew it was happeneing and nothig was said. the children were finally removed and the family no longer speak to the mother.

the thing that really gets me is that this girl now has a daughter of her own and my friend has expressed to me on a number of ocasions that she suspects the little girl is being abused in a similar way to that of her mother. i told my friend that they need to talk to the mother or talk to ss. she said that no one in the family would ever do that and that if ss became involved they would all know who was to blame, ie; me!

i really cannot get my head round it as if it was my niece/cousin, i would want to make sure history wasnt repeating itself, especially as no one did anyting the first time round.

i did contact ss expressing my concerns but as i havent heard anything from either my friend or ss i am assuming that everything is fine. i dont ask anymore because i dont want to be seen as interfereing.

Sidge Wed 12-Aug-09 11:52:12

I'm not sure it's Social Care that is the only source of the problem; I think the legal system is in need of overhaul too.

From what I have seen it's actually incredibly difficult to remove a child/ren from a family on a long term basis. The legal process is long and complex and needs so much supporting evidence. Children can be removed under police protection but it seems that this is often a short term emergency measure and IME rarely leads to a long term removal.

The whole societal structure needs revision in terms of child protection; more suitable foster families, more HVs, more SWs, more culpability (is that the right word?) for parents that are neglecting their children. Society as a whole needs to see child protection as everyone's business, not just the professionals'. We are ALL responsible for the most vulnerable members of our society - the difficulty is in doing something about it without overstepping the bounds of intrusiveness.

Remember also that cases like poor Baby Peter's are the top of the pyramid - there are thousands of families out there that ARE getting a huge amount of support and supervision to help them raise their children.

chegirl Wed 12-Aug-09 13:44:34

One thing that we cannot change is the fact that there will always be:

Damaged, manipulative, narsacisstic (sp) individuals who outwit inexperienced SWs.

This is not to say that SWs are rubbish. But many (particularly in some London boroughs with high vacancy rates) are woefully undertrained and have no real idea of how the UK care system works.

An inexperienced SW who looks for guidence and has good management is one thing. A totally green, very young, overseas SW who tries to struggle on without (or is not given) adequate supervison is another.

How can we expect a 20 something, right out of Uni, who has very probably lived in a nice home with nice family, to work out what the hell is going on with someone like Connolly?

I dont know if this was the case with Peter Connolly. I do want to follow the media blood fest. I have seen this to be the case personally and professionally many times.

These SWs are thrown to the bloody lions.

I found the outpouring of bile against SWs at the time of this case vile. Most of it showed a total ignorance of SWs and the system. I am biased but I also found the comments about extended family being 'as bad as the murderers' disturbing. There are many, many family members desperate to get intervention for families like Peter's and they have NO rights or status in the child's life.

Reallytired Wed 12-Aug-09 14:03:53

I think its sad that the sucess stories of social services never make the media. It does not make new when a child is saved from total and utter squalor.

The problem is that confidentality means that the public never get to hear when social workers get things right.

These social workers have huge case loads. They have to sort out a load of c*@p. Also a family has to be exceptionally bad for a child to better off in care.

Less than ideal parents are probably better than foster care. It is a difficult judgement call to decide when a really needs to be in care, or when it is better to keep the child with the family but give them extra support.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Wed 12-Aug-09 14:16:40

i WAS TOTALLY green when I started. However I had a reasonable caseload, a protected period of 6 months when my caseload was reduced, and an excellent manager who was readily available almost anytime and always for 2 hours supervision fortnightly. that is how SS depts are supposed to be run.

What happens in some depts is that SWs are given almost unlimited caseloads, absent managers and are left to manage highly complex cases alone. It's no wonder mistakes are made. The answer is more resources but the govt are not willing or able to privide it.

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