Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Vulnerable children deserve better than this

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Studying the case of Baby P, I found it hard to understand. Having been a social worker since 1971, I could not see how you could have observed the baby with his head shaven, and not have seen the significance of such an action, not have known that before the torturer proceeds, he needs to dehumanise. Who could have visited the family home and been so unobservant that they perceived no evidence of a man or men being present, or been unaware that dangerous individuals are prone to deception?
Now, we have been given the official explanation of what happened, and what must change. In yesterday's report, Lord Laming calls for a step change in leadership and practice, as well as other measures, including disciplinary action for directors of children's services if they fail to ensure that children are protected from abuse.
But I was puzzled. Lord Laming insists that the current framework, known as "Every Child Matters", is the right one for safeguarding children. Yet he glosses over the fact that the current strategy was the result of his own inquiry into the death of Victoria ClimbiƩ. It is hardly surprising that he is unwilling to see its flaws.
When I began working as a social worker, the situation was unrecognisable from today. It wasn't a perfect world, but there was a belief that those who needed help would get it. Many came to the office with their family problems, and we would help as best we could. There were also the more serious cases – the "battered babies" who had been abused by their parents, and whose broken bones were identified by the staff in Casualty.

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