Wednesday, May 20, 2009

thoughts about state surveillance of families

Questions we should be asking the State:

Are all parents are to be viewed as potentially guilty of child abuse until proven innocent by having their children inspected by state employees?

Would this have saved baby P/Victoria Climbie/the Eunice Spry children?

Is regularly seeing adults outside the family, be they state employees or not, an effective way for child abuse to be spotted or prevented?

Is having a state-run universal child surveillance system effective? legal? ethical?

What understanding of the relationship between State and family is implicit in the idea that all children need to be seen by state employees to safeguard them from their parents?

Is the best way to ensure that all children are safe and well to ensure that they are all seen by "child professionals"? Should every child have regular safe and well checks, or only the ones who do not come unto contact with state-employed and state-trained child professionals on a regular basis through state school, NHS or similar?

If children are at private schools, or seen by private health practitioners, or members of some sort of community group (guides, church, ballet/music classes, whatever) is that sufficient for safeguarding purposes?

Of [i] course [/i] most children see adults outside the family lots, whether they go to school or not. But not all. And if someone has a child whose SN mean, by definition, that they are going to be best off being quietly at home with their family a lot of the time, should those families be subjected to preventative surveillance (which would, on its own, be distressing to the child as well as contravening whichever thingy it is about the right to a private family life unless there's reason to believe that wrong doing is occuring)?

My rant:

I'm all in favour of living in a society where we care for others and offer support, I'm less in favour of living in a society where the right to private family life is bulldozed because of some idea that a safe and well check will prevent child abuse. I need more evidence that such checks do more good than harm before being happy to consider giving up a fundamental civil liberty.

I think it is often easy for those in Children's Services to forget how much harm they do simply by investigating and invading the lives of innocent families.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like your style. Personally, I'd be terribly nervous if I were a public servant charged with staring at/talking to a child to determine whether or not that child was abused. I mean, what if the child was being abused and I didn't catch it. Or, if I found abuse everywhere, like the McCarthy acolytes in the USA found Reds under the Beds? Then, one day, a host of children sought me out and told me that, because I'd wrongly diagnosed abuse, their lives were turned into hell. Couldn't live with the responsibility.