A new video produced by charity Just For Kids Law, under the pretext that it is trying to support parents going through child protection proceedings is thinly veiled propaganda which includes dangerous child protection advice.
The video, which is just under three minutes long, follows a young girl who was once in care and who now finds herself going through child protection proceedings after becoming pregnant. Whilst the animation is really nothing more than an advertisement for the charity’s legal services, it is the way in which it treats young parents that is so offensive – and so wide of the mark that it amounts to bullying.
Entitled, “If I Could Talk To Me”, the story approaches child protection proceedings as if the mother whose case we’re watching has gone back in time to advise her younger self to do things differently. Right from the start, the assumption that’s being made is that this young mother has been difficult, or obstructive, or, god forbid, independent minded in her view of the proceedings.
It’s not a great start.
And using the woman’s older self to sell the ideas in this video is a manipulative tactic designed to give young parents the impression that they would give themselves this advice, and that they should therefore trust what’s being said – after all, ‘they’ are saying it.
As the story progresses, there are vague nods to the prejudices and assumptions child protection professionals may make that will lead to the young mother in the video being stigmatised – and unfairly treated – but these issues are brushed over and the young mum is asked to accept all of those injustices – and potential human rights breaches – as a matter of course. It’s a deeply disturbing three minutes of viewing.
The video is also filled with dishonest rhetoric. At one point the young mum’s older self tells her, “It’s the process that makes it so hard – not the people.” We know that’s not true. There is an extensive track record today, of child protection professionals making the process unbelievably hard for parents, through all the prejudices the video makes references to – whether it’s assuming a mother or father is unfit to parent because they’ve been in care (how can this starting point ever be allowed in best practice?) or because they’ve been in an abusive relationship. Assumptions are dangerous, and this video unfortunately plays on care leavers’ worst fears, too.
At one point, the mum’s older self asks her not to take “the most personal thing in the world personally.” She is referring to child protection proceedings and the deeply invasive way they work. It’s a ridiculous request, and one which turns the clock back on new and progressive research which shows quite clearly that these processes don’t work if the emotional elements are ignored. Asking young, potentially vulnerable parents to shoulder all of the harsh realities of the system is a disgrace, and should never be part of child protection practice.
Another sentiment made during the film, which is narrated by the young mum’s older self, is that she will be “judged for things in her past that were never her fault.” Another, terrible reality of the system, which here is being openly acknowledged and accepted as the norm. It beggars belief.
It’s with enormous sadness that we write this post. Researching Reform has for a long while, been a passionate advocate of Just For Kids, but we no longer feel that way.
Watch the video for yourself and tell us what you think. Have we been unfair? Is it more balanced than we’ve given it credit for? Let us know.