The news items we feel should be right on the radar:
- Inquiry announces decisions on core participant applications
- Man jailed for distributing child abuse images – gets 15 months
- Bishop arrested for child abuse (US)
The news items we feel should be right on the radar:
Welcome to another week.
A woman who says she was repeatedly raped by paedophiles in Telford during her childhood, has told the national media that the attacks were so awful that she tried to commit suicide before leaving the town to escape her abusers.
During the course of the interview, the woman, who is now in her thirties, explains that she had several abortions after falling pregnant by the paedophiles who raped her. The number of abortions she had is not mentioned, or whether they were carried out by the NHS or a private clinic, though the article suggests that they were performed whilst the woman was still a minor.
We also do not know whether the place which carried out these abortions alerted social services or the police.
Today, NHS staff involved in the abortion process are obliged to contact social services if they suspect a child is at risk of sexual abuse. And in Wales, a new law implemented in April of this year now makes it compulsory for health care professionals to report suspicions of child sexual abuse.
Tensions between pro-life and pro-choice centres also exist, and have led to some pro-life organisations based in America covering up sexual abuse and closer to home in the UK, using scare tactics to deter women from having abortions.
Abortion clinics could be viewed as an incredibly important venue for identifying and preventing further abuse of children, though little mention of them is made in recent research on child sexual abuse in the UK. They are also places where reporting abuse can sometimes be overshadowed by moral or religious principles as with pro-life pregnancy centres, or a lack of understanding as to why children may become pregnant.
The nation’s Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse has been tasked with looking at institutions which may have failed in their duty to protect children from exploitation.
Our question this week then, is just this: do you think the Inquiry should investigate abortion clinics, both NHS and private as part of its work?
With offices in London, media outlet France 2 covers a wide variety of stories in the UK and is currently looking for head teachers or teachers to take part in a documentary their journalists are producing about school uniforms in the UK. France 2 is the equivalent of our own media outlet the BBC, and broadcasts globally.
The documentary makers would like to interview teachers within a school setting to talk about how the school uniform system works in the UK, why we have it and the pros and cons of having uniforms. France 2 is looking for teachers willing to take part, and be filmed on Tuesday 30th August. The programme will be aired next week.
It is short notice, but if anyone is able to help, please contact Laura at France 2 on 07961788876.
Featuring some of the most offensive content on adoption we have seen in some time, and stemming from a film called Catwalk Kids, this documentary highlights the practice of pushing adoptive children down a catwalk in front of prospective parents with a view to finding children in care a permanent home.
If the name of this 2011 documentary alone doesn’t make your blood boil, the short trailer will. Eighteen seconds in, and what appears to be a spokesperson for this embarrassing policy tells us, “We assumed these children were un-adoptable.” This is what kick starts a rationale which tries to justify placing children on display in order to secure adoptions for some of the most vulnerable children in America. The same spokesman tells the interviewer, “This is for the children. This is for them.” Not for the State then, desperately trying to rid itself of a massive financial burden.*
Unable to find secure placements for children in need, those interviewed for the documentary explain that as the current strategy to find homes was not working, a new and radical plan was needed. Rather than look for an intelligent solution, the authorities involved decide to glamourise the adoption process by making these children ‘perform’ up and down a makeshift catwalk.
No one seems to have considered what damage this is doing to their self-esteem, or general development. At best, these children may grow up thinking that in order to be loved they must be fun, glamorous and engaging. At worst, those children who are not ‘chosen’, may develop mental health difficulties that will linger on into adulthood.
The stupidity of this practice just takes our breath away.
As does a scene in the trailer in which another buffoon justifies their warped idea of a ‘whatever it takes’ mentality by saying, “This is a business,” and another declaring, “Without marketing, we would have to close our doors.”
The documentary does attempt to give different views on America’s Fashion Parade policy. In a thought-provoking segment of the film, one of our favourite British child welfare campaigners David Akinsanya, talks about the flaws in our own adoption policies and the ways in which the government has let children down. Of the State’s involvement in raising children, David says,
“How dare we as the State say we’re going to take children away from inadequate parents and then be inadequate parents ourselves? ”
The documentary also touches on adoption practices around the world, including the UK’s own National Adoption Week, when the Sun newspaper runs ads with children’s photos and details about them with a view to securing adoptions. This practice, which is not exclusive to The Sun, continues to raise serious concerns about children’s right to privacy and just as importantly their safety. These images are circulated to The Sun’s 5 million strong readership, and more once the Sun’s website, which they also use to ‘advertise’ children, is included.
The name of the film is of course designed to grab your attention and upset you, but much like the practice of throwing children onto a catwalk the premise is lacking in substance and completely misses the point. Making a sale is not equal to a happy ending.
Catwalk Kids is available to watch on Amazon, and is free for those with Amazon Prime or Amazon’s monthly video package.
*Stats from 2006
The latest child welfare news:
Welcome to another week.
Ongoing failings within Family Court process have been highlighted in a recent case where judge, Mrs Justice Pauffley condemns, amongst other things, unethical private agreements between judges and social work staff, negligent child protection assessments of parents and psychiatric reports which are written often in a day and without even speaking to the family members whom the reports are about.
The case is so riddled with deeply embedded malpractice that President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, has promised to tackle the secretive nature in which agreements are reached between local authorities and the court.
Mrs Justice Pauffley said in court:
‘There was, apparently, an established but largely clandestine arrangement between the local authority and the court which, to my mind, has considerable repercussions for justice.’ Mrs Justice Pauffley added: ‘In public law proceedings the local authority is the applicant. It is not and should never be seen as the decision maker. That is the role of the court.
Our question to you then, is just this: how can the Family Court rid itself of unethical practices?
Prime Minister Theresa May has made a number of important changes to the roles and responsibilities of ministers working on child welfare policy.
These include a wider brief for Minister Of State For Vulnerable Children And Families, Ed Timpson, with added responsibilities in the areas of children’s mental health, the pupil premium and the National Citizen Service.
We still think it’s strange that child welfare matters continue to be lumped in under the Department for Education, and spread out across other ministerial roles. It’s time we had a dedicated department for this work.
We’ve added a break down below of the current roles, responsibilities and who’s in charge of which area:
Department of Health
Department For Education
Communities and Local Government
Ministry of Justice
Department For Work and Pensions
Culture, Media and Sport
What do you think? Would you create new departments, or add other areas that may have been overlooked?
An open event next month, hosted by Halsbury’s hopes to explore issues relating to Legal Aid and Litigants in Person (LIPs).
The debate takes place on 22nd September 2016, 6.30pm -10pm, and will be held at One Great George Street.
Confirmed speakers to date include:
Questions up for debate will include:
This is a free event and hopes to bring together senior figures from politics, the judiciary, the Pro-Bono and Legal Aid communities, campaign bodies and others to discuss Legal Aid and priorities for the future.
If you’d like to attend, you can book your place here.
For anyone unable to attend, you can follow the debate on Twitter, @HLEThinkTank and search the hashtag#HLEDebate.
The latest child welfare and family law news:
For our column over at Jordans this month, we explain why the appointment of a fourth Chair for the nation’s Independent Child Abuse Inquiry should be viewed as a second chance and what the Inquiry must do now to make the most of that chance.
In the article, we discuss the missing elements to the Inquiry which are currently preventing it from moving forward and we offer some suggestions for improving the Inquiry’s chances of success.
As part of our commitment to transparency we’ve added a short film about Jordans below for anyone wishing to know more about the publication we write for.