Unedited Version of Scottish Sun on Sunday column on 4th August 2013
DANIEL PELKA & THE CONVENIENT WITCH HUNT OF SOCIAL WORKERS
The murder trial of the parents of Daniel Pelka concluded this week with their conviction. Described as looking like a concentration camp victim before his death in March 2012, Daniel was found scavenging for food in the bins by his teachers.
A victim of unspeakable torture he would go to school with black eyes and bruising round his neck.
Held under water until unconscious, he was expected to use his bedroom as a toilet and died at the age of 4 with the body weight of an average 18 month old baby.
He was left unconscious for several hours to die alone in dark box room by his mother and step father before she faked a distress call to 999.
It is difficult to comprehend any human being committing such atrocities on a child, let alone your own child.
School teachers had reported their concerns on several occasions yet ‘nothing’ was done by social services or the police.
Vicious and hysterical scape goating of social workers is being whipped up, but we should be asking whether this is just a convenient way of avoiding a deeper problem.
Many of those I have met over the years working in child protection services care passionately about children, so despite my horror at their failure to act I find it difficult to accept the picture painted of callous indifference to the suffering of any child.
If Westminster really wants answers then look to why Child Protection Services spending remains at the same levels as 1993. Layers of management and an inspection agenda has created a climate of fear, of demoralisation whilst constant job cuts and redundancies of essential staff makes the job of protecting children even harder.
Since 1987 there have been over one hundred acts of Parliament impacting child protection, which meant staff drowning in paperwork, spending more time on computers than working on the front line in communities.
The witch hunt of families with welfare cuts has put children at a greater risk of abuse.
Some local authorities facing cuts in budgets have actually raised the threshold for when a child can be considered at risk and taken into care.
In the short term it saves them money but it means refusing children like Daniel protection even when they are at risk.
Across the country Child Protection Services step in to save children from the threat of violence, neglect and abuse, but in the long term they can do nothing to address poverty or support a family’s desperate for help.
Short term solutions of placing children in care is no different to heroin addicts being sent to a prison awash with drugs and dealers by failing to provide them with support and treatment of their addiction in the community.
Out of sight, out of mind?
Billions are spent removing children from their families and placing them into a chaotic care system which perpetuates a system of traumatised children rather than a solution.
3 million children live in poverty, whilst 1 million live in drug and alcohol fuelled families and years of austerity have increased the chance of child neglect and abuse.
In the past children at risk would be monitored at home, where their families could receive assistance.
Play schemes, mums clubs and community groups would provide a much needed haven but the rapid withdrawal of such universal provision is pushing thousands of caring families over the edge.
Of course love, compassion and kindness doesn’t cost a penny but what happened to Daniel will be happening to another child as you read this.
It’s time that Governments stopped scapegoating and upheld their duty of care to make sure children most vulnerable to abuse and exploitation do not pay the price that 4 year old Daniel Pelka did.
GIVE US BACK OUR GEORGE SQUARE
My wife asked me this week what were they thinking, for once she wasn’t moaning about me?
George Square at the heart of Glasgow has been closed by the City Fathers because they are digging it up again for another ‘less radical redesign’.
Which genius decided it was a good idea to stick up 10ft fencing around the whole square over Summer? Why not start the work when it was cold and wet?
It’s not like our opinions actually count and I suspect councillors will squabble amongst themselves deciding what is best.
I have a suggestion for 150 years the Square was a green public park belonging to the people until the Council got rid of it in the 1990’s hoping to turn it into a corporate money making exercise.
So the time is right give us back our green space, build a huge ‘free’ play area for our children and get rid of the corporate entities who keep taking over our square.
Sitting down in Buchanan Street to watch two extremely talented boys singing, I sent my 5 year holding his 2 year old sister’s hand to put money in the boys’ hat.
As the watching crowd burst into laughter, I looked over only to see my 2 year old trying to run off with all the cash she had seized from the hat.
Total class! Attempted shoplifting the week before and now graduating to street robbery.