Peace at any price?

An excellent article from John Lettice at the Register, ‘Spotting tomorrow’s criminals in today’s pushchairs’.

The only thing I would add is that the increasing emphasis on ‘predicting’ criminals is in fact taking attention away from child protection work. Contrary to Hogarthian stereotypes, poverty and deprivation are not indicators for abuse and neglect: believe me, nasty things happen to the children of barristers, company directors and paediatricians, too.

Practitioners, especially Health Visitors, are already well-versed in possible indications of abuse. By giving them a completely different set of assessment criteria that emphasise factors such as deprivation, and by hijacking terms such as ‘vulnerable’ and ‘at risk’ to give them an entirely different meaning, the government is encouraging practitioners to take their eye off the one, small group of children scattered throughout the population in whom the state can rightly claim a legitimate interest.

It’s ironic that the whole ‘Every Child Matters’ initiative was launched on the back of a devastating case of child abuse, when child protection is rapidly becoming just another sub-category in a tracking project which, in turn, is subsumed into the higher purpose of the ‘antisocial behaviour’ agenda.

Child protection really does matter. It’s in a category of its own because it deals with the exceptional situations where parents are unable to perceive their children’s most basic needs or, even more rarely, where they are actively dangerous to their children. At its worst, it’s about serious crime.

To be sure, social workers can get it badly wrong by intervening too much or too little, but each day in the family courts there is a steady procession of cases involving children whose parents have substance-abuse or mental health problems to a degree where they are not able to parent even passably. Sometimes they involve children who have been physically assaulted or sexually abused.

Now that the initial phase of convincing the public of the need to share information about children is over, there is barely a mention of child protection from government, and no longer any attempt to disguise the dangerous re-definition of ‘at risk’.

Assuming even for one moment that it were a believable proposition, if identifying the children who are at risk of becoming a thorough nuisance to me carries the price-tag of reduced child protection, forget it. I just don’t want to know.

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3 Responses to Peace at any price?

  1. […] say, eh? Filed under: civil liberties — notsaussure @ 10:15 pm An excellent article over at ArchRights about the way the government’s proposals to predict, by monitoring various indicators from a […]

  2. […] v welfare We’ve written several times about the core problem with the ‘Every Child Matters’ agenda – the confusion of child protection with more […]

  3. […] education to health and safety? We’ve often criticised the ‘Every Child Matters’ agenda on the basis that, as well as being an outrageous […]

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