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Why don't statistics on domestic child deaths and child abuse improve?

(20 Posts)
restlessmog Thu 15-Oct-09 13:11:04

I read the below in the times this morning and I find it so depressing that these articles never ever seem to have good or improving news. On reflection I suppose the fact that the topic is getting regular coverage and increased media profile is good but why do the annual death figures for babies at the hands of their parents and carers in the UK stay stubbornly the same (about 2 deaths per week) year in year out? Very simplistic question I know, I totally accept that social workers (and some parents!) have the most difficult job on the planet. I just find it painful the fact that these babies are known about and it feels like their fate is inevitable. No doubt I will now get a response that thousands of children have been saved as a result of social services intervention and the good work which is done which I know is true. I just wish the statistics showed an improvement. Particularly sad in that article was the comment at the end:
“It is distressing to read, for example, how often nobody thought to ask a child, who was clearly demonstrating how unhappy they were, what was wrong.”

Ok now no doubt I will be accused of being sentimental or talking about child protection work about which I know nothing.
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TIMES ARTICLE 15.10.09

Two thirds of children killed or seriously injured by their parents were being monitored by social workers at the time — with one in five on the “at-risk” register.

In a study of all serious case reviews published in the past year, Ofsted found 19 per cent of the 219 children were subject to a child protection plan, the system covering those in most danger. Yet despite their parents being under strict notice to improve care, and social workers regularly monitoring behaviour, they still suffered serious and even fatal abuse.

Of the 219 children, 113 died as a result of the incidents, 44 of them babies aged less than one.
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Morloth Thu 15-Oct-09 16:39:25

Because people don't change.

reikizen Thu 15-Oct-09 16:43:54

Yep, human nature, a vicious cycle of crap parenting from my experience of working for social services. You can't stop 'undesirable' people from reproducing - although I believe Hitler had some plans in that area...I don't think you are sentimental at all, all people with any humanity within them should be upset by the statistics.

mathanxiety Fri 16-Oct-09 06:18:03

hmm about the Hitler remark. Was he out to save the world from bad parents then??

Violence against women and children is not taken seriously enough.

restlessmog Fri 16-Oct-09 09:57:18

I totally reject everything Hitler represents and I agree that policies which ensure our society never get anywhere near that model are absolutely right. But sometimes I think there is too much emphasis on people's absolute 100% unquestionable right to have children and as many of them as they choose even when there is an indisputable and undeniable track record of causing their existing children unremedied pain and suffering notwithstanding the support they are offered by social services. Making this comment I confess I don't really know what i am talking about. My childhood was not perfect but I don't think I was abused as such and I have never been in a position where I have had to rely on or been offered support beyond basic maternity care from social services.
So I admit I don't know how effect society's attempts to break the cycle of crap parenting is. But even so, sometimes I wonder whether the right to have children always far outweighs the rights (basically none) of the children who result.
I wish there was some kind of flawless form of temporary (i.e lasts 2 or 3 years) contraception which does not in any way compromise fertility which would allow people facing challenges which might compromise their ability to parent properly so they could have those extra few years to sort out their demons before embarking on starting a family. Provided as I say it is guaranteed only to work the exact number of years and has 0 effect on ongoing fertility so you have the same chances of pregnancy as you did at the end of the duration as you did before you took the contraception. This might help vulnerable groups like teenagers or those dependent on drink / drugs to wait it out or face their demons for a year or two and then when they were in a better place start their family. I read somewhere that teenagers or drug addicts etc sometimes struggle to give childcare you would want to receive if you were a child (but not always, for the avoidance of doubt I am NOT saying all teenage mums are no good, just that if the baby was not indended and the teenage mum is not ready then retrospectively maybe it would be good to allow them to have waited a year or two). All of this for the sake of the baby and its quality of life. I am expecting abuse now as any kind of mention of contraception or interferring with people's fertility invokes that. By the way I would not make this compulsory, but advised, for example as part of your government provided treatment for drug addicion you agree to temporary contraception

giveloveachance Fri 16-Oct-09 10:17:18

In so many of the cases we read about, I think many people say, well why wasn't the child removed earlier? Why wasn't the child put in foster care or more radically up for adoption, especially when young enough to forget the abuse? Are social workers hands so tied that they fear litigation / their jobs for taking children away too early, not giving chance after chance after chance to some parents? better step in too soon than too late???!!!!!

BTW a friend adopted a little girl removed from a very abusive household, this little girl has now a chance of a happy and abuse free life, and is young enough to forget the trauma she has seen - so perhaps I am biased in my opinions.....

restlessmog Fri 16-Oct-09 10:19:17

giveloveachance, thanks for letting me know about your friend, i must be the most sentimental person but just hearing one good story like that makes me feel happy(or happier!) more like this i say!

Snorbs Fri 16-Oct-09 10:57:23

restlessmog, I agree with your wishes for a reliable, temporary contraceptive with no side effects for use in such situations. It's senseless for parents to continue having more children while Social Services are having to intervene heavily to help them with the children they've already got. It's sad that such contraceptives don't exist.

As for why the statistics don't improve, part of it is because when Social Services intervene in a heavy-handed manner then they're pilloried for being "child-snatchers". When they don't, they're pilloried for being ineffectual.

Unless you have a social worker living with each at-risk family all the time, or every child on the at-risk register automatically being taken into care, there will continue to be these awful, tragic situations.

mathanxiety Fri 16-Oct-09 18:03:04

Are people here seriously considering temporary restrictions on people's basic rights to reproduce? I must confess I am a bit shocked. I think if you take even one step in that direction, civilised society is on a very slippery slope.

There really shouldn't be such a thing as an at risk family. Any parent who has abused a child should be subject to the penalties of the law (which should be rigorously applied), and children should be removed at the first sign of abuse, imo. There are plenty of decent families who would like to adopt reasonably young children -- I agree with Giveloveachance here, many children do well if removed early. But when you have a policy that assumes there is something sacrosanct about the family unit or the so-called parent/child relationship, abuse can be perpetrated, with society at large willing to turn a blind eye until there is a tragedy. There is too much giving the benefit of the doubt, too much unwillingness to assume the worst if neighbours hear or see anything, and too much of a belief that there are necessarily extenuating circumstances in a case of violence in a domestic setting. If an adult attacked someone else's child in the ways that they assault their own, they would be arrested on the spot, no questions asked.

Snorbs Fri 16-Oct-09 21:10:48

Removing a child from the home is not without risk. A large number of children have been abused while in the care system. And while it may well be true that there are lots of opportunities for placement of younger children, older children are often just passed from short-term foster carer to foster carer. That is not good for the child.

Social Services intervention is also a uniquely shocking experience. You come face to face with the realisation that, if you don't turn things around, you really could be looking at your children being taken into care. It is the case that for many families that shock is the impetus they need to make positive changes. To not give the parents a chance to demonstrate that they can change would be doing a gross disservice to both the child and the parents. Of course, if parents repeatedly show that they are unwilling/unable to improve their parenting and the children remain at risk then, of course, more drastic steps should be taken.

mathanxiety Sat 17-Oct-09 02:43:22

I think it's the term 'repeatedly' here that needs attention. Maybe one chance to get your act together, then remove the child? How many repeats are permissible? The longer the child stays in the home enduring the abuse, the worse the likely outcome for the child. As for abuse in the system, perpetrators here should also be subject to the full rigours of the law. There have been a lot of cases recently where entire areas have been let down by the social services workers; leadership seems to be sadly lacking where morale and protocols have been so poor.

skidoodle Sat 17-Oct-09 04:08:35

Morloth is right, no amount of social services intervention is going to change the fact that some people are shit parents and some children have shit lives.

Forcible sterilsation and removing children at the first sign of abuse (however that is to be determined) won't stop children being abused.

The only way to reliably bring down the numbers would be to abolish children entirely. All this "something must be done" bleating terrifies me. It always seems to end up with the state intruding massively into peopke's lives, especially if they are poor.

restlessmog Sat 17-Oct-09 21:59:46

I didn't see the channel 4 despatches programme and have only skim read the report available on the website giving statistics for child deaths. Don't know what to think about this study, no information on the credibility of those carrying out the study or their motives. http://www.channel4.com/media/dispatchesdownloads/Dispatches_Child_HomicideResearch.pdf
I also read another report (cannot recall the source) which suggested (again I cannot remember the grounds on which they made this allegation or whether I thought it was pursuasive) that the governments "every child matters" initiative where social services / GPs/ health visitors / primary teachers have to treat every single child exactly the same and do the same checks on them in order to avoid any stigma meant that what was traditionally seen as potentially vulnerable families / children are getting overlooked and missed in child protection initiatives.
I am typing off the top of my head so not drawing any conclusions by mentioning this. Did anyone see the channel 4 programme, was it worth watching or was it media spin?

whensmydayoff Sun 18-Oct-09 15:25:51

Society is worse for a number of reasons.
There are more people on benefits. There are more dishonest people.
There are more teenage pregnancy's.
There is more crime and the crimes are worse.
Why?
Family untis have broken down. Half of children are to single parents. While I know many brilliant single parents it's not ideal and CAN come with obvious problems.
People have less morals - TV, Internet who knows?
If I chat to my gran about her life, today is unrecognisable to her day.
My mum works in social services and some head phycologist type person who travels the country doing seminars for social workers said, it is worse now than it has ever been before and it is predicted by 2020, there will be as many as 50% of children on the at risk register hmm, thats just mad!
He said it was mainly broken family's that mark the huge difference.
I can't remember all of it, im sure immigration was mentioned but can't think why.
When my gran grew up and even my mum. People with kids were married or else family members brought up the child 9 times out of 10. Mothers were at home. Fathers worked as they wouldn't have been given benefits and homes to the scale they get now - you just had to.
It might have sounded tough in there day, but we are unhappier and in a worse place now than ever.
Oh I feel all serious now, i need chocolate or something!

mathanxiety Sun 18-Oct-09 18:42:15

A lot of very broad generalisations there, whensmydayoff?

Snorbs Mon 19-Oct-09 13:14:06

whensmydayoff, what an astonishing display of prejudice, Daily Mail shock-horror headlines, ignorance and blatant bollocks. Well done!

scarletlilybug Mon 19-Oct-09 13:23:57

"Are people here seriously considering temporary restrictions on people's basic rights to reproduce?"

Yes - in the same way that people who commit a serious crime, lose their "right" to liberty. If a person has a history of serious child abuse, then I don't see why they should have any "right" to bear more children.

In any case, I see having children as a priviledge rather than a "right".

restlessmog Mon 19-Oct-09 14:40:22

Scarletlilybug, I am glad you posted. I have to say I struggle a bit with the knee jerk reaction about careful regulated use of tools (if we had them like temporary medium term contraception taken at the OPTION of the person for whom they are prescribed, see my post above) to try to ensure as far as possible that children are born to people who ideally want them or if they don't actually want them are capable of looking after themselves so have a chance of looking after their baby when it arrives. An example might be (and NO I am not judging the person I describe in any way, simply suggesting the type of person who might benefit from this type of care a GP could show them by offering temporary contraception. A teenager, say 17, homeless and literally living on the streets, waiting for sheltered housing accommodation to become available. Their homelessness is due to a range of problems they have had in their own life, no need to elaborate, you can guess the type of thing. Unsurprisingly she has fallen into prostitution and is addicted to a class A drug. Her life is chaotic, she sleeps all hours and her diet is very very poor. She is waiting to be housed.
To mathanxiety and your question "Are people seriously considering..." my answer is YES. In my opinion offering this 17 year old an injection which would guard her against pregnancy say for 2 or 3 years until she gets off the streets and a bit more back on her feet is not only kind to the baby but kind to her. Anyone who has been a parent knows how much it takes it out of you especially in the first year. Now I am waiting for replies saying she would get a council house straight away if she were pregnant. Maybe. But that does not help her solve her own problems does it - and therefore it does not help her get better herself leave alone be a good mum to any child she might have?
I am no expert at these things but surely where research shows (again not judging those in the vulnerable areas or saying everyone who falls into these categories will automatically abuse or neglect their kids - but simply saying statistics suggest child abuse / neglect is more likely) that vulnerable teenagers and those dependent on drugs or drink are more likely to struggle to parent adequately, it would be helpful to those people for the GP to offer the option of a medium term contraception till they can get more stability in their life.
God it seems so illogical to feel so defensive about this viewpoint, and now I am expecting posts in response including the word "hitler" etc
I give up. I'm out.

whensmydayoff Mon 19-Oct-09 14:43:42

mathanxiety, snorbs,
Generalisations to stop it being a mammoth post! Had to shorten it.
I don't know which has came as a surprise to you but im talking about an influx of single parents. It's not a slight on single parents as such.
My best friend is an amazing single parent with a good job, a nice house in a good area and dad is supportive financially and emotionally so no problems there obviously.
BUT if you took say a teenager on benefits with no support then it's more likely problems will occur, no?
I just mean if there is more of the latter situation, children are going to suffer.

You are then going to say, "do parents who are together not abuse, do rich people not abuse etc". Yes, but im just making a point that I think it's worse because society as a whole IS worse in many ways.

Snorbs. Not sure what you are on about. I didn't read the Daily Mail article or infact any ones elses answers the other day (no time). I just read the OP and answered her with my thoughts directly.

mathanxiety Mon 19-Oct-09 16:03:24

You can only offer help and sensible ideas, but a free society cannot force people to do what is being advised. People have the right to be wrong, even if it means having children in circumstances that are not very promising, imo. But the law remains, and it is there for rich and poor alike. Why not enforce the law more vigorously?

I'm not sure if things are worse for children in 2009 than they were in 1909 or 1809, taking all things into consideration. I don't think there are more unmarried parents or young parents or more drinking, neglect, etc. I think we just hear about it more, and we have higher expectations so abuse of children is perhaps more unsettling to us than than it might have been to people living in bygone days. But look at Dickens on the subject of British childhood.

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