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What the GRA reform fiasco has revealed about safeguarding [edited by MNHQ at OP's request].

(127 Posts)
FloralBunting Sat 22-Feb-20 11:38:08

So, the Times is reporting that the GRA reforms are dead. Time will tell, of course, but as we often analyse and examine beyond appearances in FWR, it occurs to me that this whole affair has brought to light many more surprising and worrying things than we realized.

Obviously, the rampant glee with which so many purportedly progressive men have let their repressed sexism and contempt for women flow freely has been a pretty unpleasant revelation, but I think there is something more surprising than that.

In all the discussions here and elsewhere in the last few years, the women here have been able to pinpoint that the hinge to all possible damage is a total disregard for Safeguarding frameworks.

Time and again, people have appeared on FWR to promote Self ID, gender identity as paramount over material reality, and all the attendant beliefs, and each of them has repeatedly demonstrated a complete absence of safeguarding knowledge.

What is most concerning about that is that some of them say they have had safeguarding training, or even that they work with vulnerable children and others.

It seems to me that, going forward, this egregious lip service - where a vital safety framework has been revealed to be smoke and mirrors among a large proportion of people who are tasked with implementing it - must be addressed.

I propose a concerted focus on actual Safeguarding education and implementation. Time and again, people, some of them in positions of power, some not, have illustrated that safeguarding principles are not at all well understood, let alone adequately implemented.

I'm starting this thread because I think this is a vitally important component of a society that looks after the vulnerable, because not only is there widespread ignorance about safeguarding, but some have very clearly been determined to undermine and remove it entirely, and I think that is something we should stop.

I'm encouraging us all to continue to ask questions, and I think it would be great to organize something lasting and effective, in terms of safeguarding education, so that the hard work put in over these last few years, and the consequences many of us have faced, actually lead in to something that will benefit our society, and genuinely make life better for women, children, and anyone who is vulnerable.

OP’s posts: |
BovaryX Sat 22-Feb-20 11:43:31

It seems to me that, going forward, this egregious lip service - where a vital safety framework has been revealed to be smoke and mirrors among a large proportion of people who are tasked with implementing it - must be addressed

An excellent post Floral There has been a woeful abdication of duty to protect some of the most vulnerable and the consequences of this failure will continue to reverberate for years to come.

NotAGirl Sat 22-Feb-20 11:54:27

Whole heartedly agree Floral current safeguarding training is quite clearly not fit for purpose

ArranUpsideDown Sat 22-Feb-20 11:58:26

It seems to me that, going forward, this egregious lip service - where a vital safety framework has been revealed to be smoke and mirrors among a large proportion of people who are tasked with implementing it - must be addressed.


It must not be left up to some drama and newspaper pieces to get this right but for the systemic flaws to remain unchanged.

There needs to be support for looking at evidence, evidence-based policy, and a follow-up mechanism for implementation.

Binterested Sat 22-Feb-20 12:12:28

Yes great idea. Safeguarding should be like airline security - no exceptions, everyone has to submit to the process. Everyone. No matter if it’s a short flight. No matter if the passenger is a vicar or a celeb. No matter if they threaten suicide. The process is imposed on everyone.

Michelleoftheresistance Sat 22-Feb-20 12:21:21

The serious case reviews where safeguarding has gone drastically wrong, and the government own papers expose over and over: it isn't the training, it isn't the policies, its that on the ground this training and policy isn't properly implemented. It hasn't changed practice. The same issues come up over and over and over again.

* Difficult questions aren't asked. Usually because there's a difficult or challenging adult involved who is very successfully using behaviour to punish and frighten anyone who upsets or challenges them, so workers who should be safeguarding focus on placating them and keeping them on side instead of safeguarding the person they should.

* No one will think the unthinkable. Because it involves having a nasty suspicious mind, not believing people at face value, and asking questions that make difficult and challenging adults very angry and upset. Adults committing safeguarding atrocities are very often excellent at grooming, are very plausible, very good at getting the sympathy and compassion of the service provider, very good at sounding on board, committed to doing whatever's necessary, to being very convincing that they are telling the truth and someone else is lying, being mean to them, etc etc etc. Often service providers are not good at spotting when they are being groomed, and become accidentally a mouthpiece and enabler for the person who commits the crime. Groomers often don't look like groomers, and not all of them do it consciously, maliciously or intentionally, and many may be in situations that a service provider unconsciously sympathises with and so becomes more vulnerable.

* Service providers become distracted and preoccupied by highly demanding, highly needy, often highly sympathy arousing adults in the situation who don't need safeguarding, but succeed in sucking up most of the time and attention of the service providers, which prevents them from spending the necessary time with, or having the necessary focus on, the person in need of safeguarding. Often it turns out that service providers never really considered the experience of the person in need of safeguarding: they'd been sucked into supporting and validating the experiences of more powerful and more manipulative or more needy people involved.

If safeguarding is really going to change in this country, there is going to have to be massed public service training on:

* Recognising people with personality disorders, and with patterns of behaviour that mean sucking up huge amounts of attention and time without purpose or outcome, and having policies that put down boundaries and prevent abuse.

For example: every Local Authority has a small group of people using up ridiculous amounts of time and staff energy (they have often driven multiple staff off sick with stress) by bombarding with huge emails, calls, dramatic meetings, endless complaints with often multiple on the go at the same time: as a manager said to me once: you have to accept that nothing you ever do will make this person happy or solve their problem. It isn't about solutions. She was right; the interactions and endless high drama was an end in itself, the service was being used as a kind of punch bag. These people suck up huge amounts of time, resources, money and staff burn out, to no good reason, but there isn't the training or the policy to put down boundaries and deal with it.

* Teaching front line staff how to deal with difficult, loud, scary, aggressive, threatening people who lack boundaries. With absolute backup so picking up the phone and shouting at the manager doesn't end in soothing placation, and a firm line of what will and won't be provided, what will and won't be tolerated, and police involvement if necessary. Most services manage such people by pandering and nice nice listening and response trying to minimise the damage.

* Training all front line staff to recognise and expect to be groomed, and to have proper defences against it. Plus rigorous supervision to ensure that personal agendas are looked for and expected as therapists do to keep their work professional, and to ensure that grooming or unconscious sympathies and bias or distraction from the person in need is picked up on when it's happened to someone who hasn't noticed.

That would be a practical step forward to solving true safeguarding issues and many others. These are some of the reasons policy change doesn't cause real change at the coal face. I can see similarities with much of the issues women are dealing with in that list above.

Languishingfemale Sat 22-Feb-20 12:23:39

Great post Floral. It's a constant worry that organisations like the NSPCC have been demonstrably captured with their safeguarding practice being evidently eroded. And let's never forget the poor child at the centre of the judgement in the case of Child J - repeatedly emotionally abused by his mother in plain sight of social services and others because they chanted the trans mantra rather than safeguarding a young child.
Well worth reading this judgement as it gives a real insight into how professionals are captured and cease to function in their safeguarding roles:

HandsOffMyRights Sat 22-Feb-20 12:24:56

Brilliant post.
I'm so concerned about safeguarding.

The female teacher who heads up PSHE at my child's secondary school and who has a child herself has completely rainbow washed the entire school, including the head.
Stonewall and DRM both have unfetered access to the school, along with those groups' regressive teaching material, and my concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

I note she won an award for inclusivity and diversity and along the regular tweets, I can't help but wonder if she's brainwashed or whether its now personal glory. Maybe there's another reason connected to a family member - who knows?

Deeply concerning.

FloralBunting Sat 22-Feb-20 12:36:41

Michelle, thank you - excellent focused thoughts. It's also been pointed out that we have obviously already begun this work - Safe Schools Alliance, for example - but I'm suggesting here that safeguarding frameworks go so much wider than school settings, and as Michelle brilliantly outlines, balls are being dropped that have straightforward solutions.

We need to press these things with clarity - so much of this debacle has happened because of jargon and unclear language. I recall speaking to a manager in a charity I was involved with who talked about going on a safeguarding course, and it was obvious that everyone in the room thought it was just something the higher ups would be concerned with. No one understood it in layman's terms.

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definitelygc Sat 22-Feb-20 12:54:09

This is a brilliant thread. The GRA fiasco has really highlighted to me how women and children are persistently being told to question or ignore their gut instincts and discomfort. It's just about the worst message you could send out in terms of safeguarding.

I have a friend who works for a company that gives sex education lessons in schools. She is firmly of the sex work is work, stripping is empowering type mentality. The lack of safeguarding involved in doing these lessons was shocking to me. The main priority is that "no child feels shamed" which in practice means a child can tell the class they're watching violent, rape porn and won't be challenged on it. I've been thinking over the last couple of months about drafting up a set of proper safeguarding principles that should be applied when talking to children about sex and gender in schools.

For example "Any discussion touching on pornography must mention the addictive nature of porn, possible side-effects (e.g. erectile dysfunction) and the potential lack of consent of those filmed"

littlbrowndog Sat 22-Feb-20 12:54:58

Yes to, it all.

Saltovinegar Sat 22-Feb-20 12:59:18

Nothing to add but wanted to say there are some absolutely fantastic and more importantly factual posts on this thread. Thank you.

Languishingfemale Sat 22-Feb-20 13:07:24

Is it worth asking MNHQ to amend the title to add ...*about safeguarding* at the end? There are so many good informative threads running at the moment it might help those with concerns about safeguarding and children to spot it quickly? Just a thought.

Antibles Sat 22-Feb-20 13:19:46

Crucial insight floral. Thank you. Easy for some to bat away complaints of a clash with wimmins rights but they will find it harder to wriggle out of a charge of abandoning safeguarding.

Antibles Sat 22-Feb-20 13:22:54

YES Binterested , 'safeguarding as airport security - no exceptions' Love this!

FloralBunting Sat 22-Feb-20 13:29:07

Languishing, thanks, good suggestion. Done.

OP’s posts: |
HumphreyCobblers Sat 22-Feb-20 13:39:02

This is an excellent thread. Thank you.

The removal of safeguarding practice under the guise of inclusivity is the thing that worries me more than anything.

PermanentTemporary Sat 22-Feb-20 13:54:37

Agreed Floral.

I note that this Tuesday, 25 Feb is the 20th anniversary of Victoria Climbie's death.

I don't know anything about campaigning. A mass tweet on safeguarding?? But trying to do something half cocked on twitter would be worse than something solid that could actually recapture some of the lessons we keep having to re-learn at children's expense.

FloralBunting Sat 22-Feb-20 14:09:43

God, not Twitter. Twitter should kept as a notice board, sign posting to other places. It's not the right arena for tackling topics with require calm clarity, not posturing, tbh.

Personally my feeling is that grassroots pressure campaigning is one component, but this needs to be some form of active engagement and education, too. The airport security is a great analogy, and we need to have that kind of perspective in terms of communicating this.

Safeguarding frameworks at present seem to be something that a lot of people think of as a technical thing that only concerns a very few people. If we could somehow harness a way of communicating the shift of mindset, across the culture, needed to make safeguarding effective, I think we would make a stride forward.

This is where a Mumsnet campaign would be helpful.

Obviously, the issues Michelle raised are to do with professional practices, and that kind of campaign needs specific expertise to make the necessary changes, but I think this kind of thing is about a snowball of momentum that begins to pull everything together.

Am I making sense?

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FloralBunting Sat 22-Feb-20 14:25:31

I asked MNHQ if they would amend the title. They've told me they don't edit threads 'so far in'. I have queried what they mean. I didn't think it was a misleading amendment request, not do I think a thread with 20 posts on it is 'far in'. Will keep you posted.

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FloralBunting Sat 22-Feb-20 14:26:26

Ah, look at that, X-posted with the amendment. Thank you MNHQ.

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MrsSnippyPants Sat 22-Feb-20 14:43:12

Still Victoria Atkins' role and she has made positive noises (on protecting single sex spaces for instance).

We need access to minsters.

littlbrowndog Sat 22-Feb-20 14:57:21

From twitter

It’s not just the target victim who are groomed. Sex offenders groom respectable adults and other children to provide a shield for themselves. We must wise up to this. #grooming #paedophilia #safeguarding

ArranUpsideDown Sat 22-Feb-20 15:08:04

Lending my voice to those who recognise and applaud Michelle's description of the systemic problems with implementation and FloralBunting's emphasis on the need for a cultural shift.

I freely admit to recognising Michelle's overview applies to a number of healthcare areas where a high-profile, highly-sympathetic few with personality disorders are the ones who obtain a disproportionate amount of resources to no good resolution for them. But the skewed resources are to the detriment of the others for whom little is available.

I would like to see a cultural shift in line with FloralBunting. In the same way as we're told that patient safety is the outcome of both patients and staff taking responsibility for it - I'd like to see the acceptance that safeguarding takes a village (so to speak) and an acceptance that we're all expected to speak up and respect the process.

VickyEadieofThigh Sat 22-Feb-20 15:10:20

I note that this Tuesday, 25 Feb is the 20th anniversary of Victoria Climbie's death.

Indeed. Add to that the changes made with regard to safeguarding in the light of the Soham murders and those of us who've been involved at a high level with training and/or implementing safeguarding policy and procedures are left gasping at the casual way in which these are being over-ridden, ignored or trampled in order to allow extraordinarily dodgy organisations to teach sesxualisation to children.

I've been left flabbergasted on a daily basis for some time now by comments I see frequently on Twitter, Facebook and even Mumsnet. People suggesting there's "no problem" if males are allowed into girls' and women's changing rooms, bedrooms, etc. People suggesting those of us concerned about it are 'obsessed with genitals' and 'It's only a damn penis', or that those who cannot countenance males in their spaces should be 'educated to cope with it'.

Safeguarding does not and cannot have 'exceptions'.

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