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Child Abuse Inquiry – Lord Janner May Be Called To Give Evidence

In a very thorough statement published today on the Inquiry’s website, Chair Lowell Goddard has confirmed that she will be investigating the claims against Lord Janner. The decision to do so was made by Goddard and the current panel members.

The investigation will look at the conduct of institutions involved, the factual basis for the allegations both in relation to Lord Janner and the alleged improper attempts by senior public figures to influence the decision making process by these bodies, as well as previous police investigations and prosecutorial decisions.

Survivors and witnesses who wish to make  statements will be able to do so, and interviews with individuals whose conduct may be called into question will also make up part of the investigation.

The statement also suggests that Lord Janner could be interviewed if Goddard considers it appropriate upon reviewing all available medical evidence, and, crucially, commissioning her own expert report should she feel this is necessary.

Whilst this investigation won’t impact on or change The Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) decision not to prosecute Lord Janner, Lord Janner could be prosecuted if the DPP’s decision is successfully overturned by a Judicial Review.

The statement and the Q&A section under it are worth a read. You can catch it all here.

If you’d like to get in touch with the Inquiry about this investigation, you can do so by contacting their Senior Communications Advisor, David Jervis at or on 07771 982 759

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The Nesting Instinct – Are Fathers Really Powerless During Pregnancy?

This was the thought that occurred to us whilst we read an interesting article published in one of our favourite father-focused magazines, Fathers Quaterly.

The piece talks about how fathers often feel powerless during their partner’s pregnancy and that in order to understand their partner’s experience better and to bond with their baby, fathers should engage in the nesting instinct.

It’s a really touching post, which looks to engage fathers in the Nesting phase of pregnancy, where women typically feel the need to clean, rearrange and prepare the home for the arrival of their little one. The central theme is enabling mum, and allowing her to Nest without doing the heavy lifting, fixing and building that is sometimes a part of this phenomenon. Enter dad with his screwdrivers, flat pack cot and electronic baby monitors…

This is a lovely idea, and a great way for both parents to get into the spirit of mummy and daddyhood, but it misses the point a little.

Fathers are not powerless during pregnancy, and power tools alone are not going to empower them. It’s a myth that women are in complete control whilst going through the many different phases of pregnancy. Despite playing host to the miracle inside their bodies, women have no control over their child’s development. It can feel incredibly frightening at times, not knowing whether your baby is alright in your womb, or suffering in silence as something goes terribly wrong on your watch. Just as alienating is the constant anxiety that you might have eaten or drunk something taboo which could impact on your baby’s development at any time. And those fears can leave women feeling just as powerless as men.

But the truth is, for all the reasons we have to feel powerless, there are many more that allow mothers and fathers to empower themselves during pregnancy and to develop a bond with their unborn baby that will last forever. Yes, getting in touch with the Nesting instinct, is one, but there are many others.

Talk to the foetus. That might sound strange, but it’s been scientifically proven to benefit babies. And the more you talk to the tummy the more familiar your unborn baby becomes with the sound of your voice, so that when they eventually enter the outside world, they will be able to recognise you by the sounds you make. It also helps to develop their language skills, so dads, if you speak another language, why not introduce your baby to it?

It’s all about the music. Research aside, and there’s plenty of it extolling the virtues of letting your baby listen to music in the womb, fathers can get involved by making music compilations and playing them to their babies whilst still in the womb. Besides the basic nurturing skills involved in picking music for your child and being aware of their development, it’s also a lovely way for dads to share their musical taste with their children (before they’re old enough to shake their heads and tell you you’re not cool :)).

Talk about the future. Talking with your partner about all the fantastic things you want to do with your child once they’re out of the womb is a great way to develop empathy skills further and start to explore the world of parenting. Talk for long enough, and your fatherly instincts will kick in so that parenting feels natural and a part of who you are.

And the beauty of these rituals? They are as equally applicable to mums as they are to dads. In a world where fathers are often made to feel like they don’t have a role to play during pregnancy, the opposite is in fact true. The more dads engage during pregnancy, the easier it will be for both dad and baby to develop that special bond that only fathers can have with their children. The only thing you guys can’t do is carry the baby in your womb, but that just means mums develop their own special bond, too.

Parenting is about sharing the experience, and bonding plays an important part. How you choose to share the experience is up to each parent, but there is no doubt that babies benefit from more love and attention, rather than less.

So go for it dads, and don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re powerless during pregnancy – it’s all about perception.

Spain Moves To Raise Minimum Marriage Age To 16 – But Are Its Reasons For Doing So Flawed?

Lawmakers in spain are almost finished drafting legislation that would raise the minimum marriage age from 14 to 16 there, but whilst the intention behind the shift is good, very little evidence on the ground seems to support the move.

Should that matter if there is an overarching philosophy to protect potential victims of child marriage or is it just lip service in a world where Spain’s most vulnerable children are not likely to register their marriages with the state and so remain largely invisible, and ultimately immune to legislative protections like this one?

That tension is at the heart of the debate, which wil be aired in full in the Spanish senate next week as the House discusses the proposals.  Whilst the marrying age in Spain is 18, there are exceptions which allow 14-16 year olds to marry. Any 16-year-old wanting to marry can do so with parental permission, while 14-year-olds are allowed to marry, but they require permission from a judge to do so.

Under the new law proposed, 14 and 15-year-olds would no longer be able to marry, while 16-year-olds would require permission from a judge or parental consent to tie the knot.

Charities within Spain are quick to defend the move, citing forced marriages and a gender imbalance which sees girls married off at a much younger age than the boys marrying them, as reasons to change the law. However, the number of children recorded as being involved in such marriages is small and it is not clear whether these unions happened under duress, or not.

Advocates of child marriage would argue that the new legislation encroaches on the teenager’s right to make a choice, however child welfare activists take an opposing view. They suggest that raising the age of marriage in this way would allow children a greater say in a decision which not only potentially impacts upon their health, but also their education and overall quality of life.

Child welfare activists, who have been lobbying for a change in the law, may be trying to stem child marriages which are not yet on their radar. They cite religious communities and other minority demographics as possible sources for child marriage, though very little is known about the children who find themselves engaging in the practice.

And whilst the number of child marriages in Spain appears to be increasing, any notion that the new legislation might reduce the practice is likely to be unfounded. If child marriages are taking place within small, elusive and often hidden communities, laws like these will have little impact on the phenomenon. Often carried out without state registration, using only customary rituals and practices, child marriages are notoriously hard to detect – and legislation alone will not be able to stop it.

If countries like Spain wish to reduce forced marriages involving children, they must reach out to those communities taking part in the practice and start to engage with them. Only then will they be able to make a difference.

So what do you think? Does raising the marrying age protect children or should we look to ways of ascertaining which marriages are sound and which are based in duress?


The Digital Single Market – Strange Name, Interesting Idea

The Digital Single Market is a new project which aims to unify EU countries online and ensure individuals in every member state have equal access to resources and commercial opportunities. The idea, as stated on their website, is to improve people’s lives and provide a simple and accessible way to connect, and converse. The goal, in reality, is to  promote the free flow of online services and entertainment across national borders.

Although we’re not mad on the name (it feels cold and too corporate), the idea is an interesting one. Next month, the EU will officially set out its proposal for a strategy to make the Digital Single Market a useful and efficient way to access information and connect with people (although the report has already, unofficially, been leaked), but the DSM site as it is, is still very much in beta phase – some links don’t work and it looks messy.

The website is also multilingual. Currently, the text is in French, German and English. The site also looks like it wants to be a crowdsourcing effort, with Ideas, Evidence and Video pages all allowing members (you have to register to use the site), the ability to upload and share data. There’s even a page for polls asking things like, “Should there be a multilingual news source to enhance the exchange between countries without constant English-filter?” Touché.

The site also wants to encourage general debate. And that’s where child welfare comes in (and how we found the site). One conversation thread, which appears to have been started by someone working for the European Child Safety Online NGO Network (ENACSO) is entitled, “Removal and blocking of child abuse images (‘child pornography’)” It’s just a small piece that makes no controversial or questioning remarks, but it clearly hopes to incite conversation.

Whether this site will take off is yet to be seen, but it is a noteworthy development within the digital revolution and an interesting platform for its implicit political agenda and its part too, to play in the work revolution.


Question It!

Welcome to a sunny start to the week.

As election time draws near, we thought we would focus on what you would like from the relevant parties when it comes to child welfare. So, our question to you this week is this: what policies or proposals would you like to see the parties hoping to be elected, offer when it comes to children and family?


The Buzz

The latest:


Question It!

Welcome to another week.

In an unusual decision by social services, a husband and child abuser who has been convicted of attacking a 13-year-old girl has been allowed to reside in the home of his partner and two daughters, both under the age of 13.

The local authority has allowed this measure on the condition that the children are locked in their bedroom at night, have a baby monitor on in their room so they can call their mother should they need to use the bathroom, and the partner himself must sleep on the far side of the mother’s bed so she can sense if he tries to get up in the middle of the night to go into the girls’ bedroom. The man in question is not the girls’ biological father. He is considered to be an ongoing risk to the children.

Our question to you then, is this: do you think this plan is in the best interests of the children, and do you think it would make a difference if the man in this case was their biological father?



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