Tuesday, 2 September 2014

When it comes to Safeguarding, have we lost the plot?

I'm asking this question, not because I don't think I know the answer. I totally know what I think about Ashya's case and those that have gone before him. It's a purely rhetorical question.

Safeguarding children is a complicated business - we have awful tragic mistakes like Rotherham - which when lessons are learnt, need to be implemented - but why do we always go from one extreme to another?

Surely so called experts can tell the difference between loving families, who think they know best for their child - and probably do - to the rumour mill that suggests grooming and abuse has gone on.

This current case is so dreadful that I think everyone involved in getting those poor parents arrested and away from their child, need to be hauled up before a committee to explain their actions.

This reminds me of that poor Italian lady who had her baby taken away but sympathy seems to be far wider this time.

I can't even convince myself that this is for the long term benefit of Ashya - this poor boy could be traumatised for life by being taken away from his parents at a time when he most needs them.

I can remember when I was lost in a market at the age of 5, in the East of London, where I lived. I knew my address but somehow not being able to see my parents left me utterly convinced I would never see them again. I was distraught and I screamed my head off, crying out for my mum and dad, until a policeman found me and took me to a nearby station. The whole thing was an absolute nightmare for me and I can recall every single thing that happened.

But this is nothing compared to what Ashya is going through. This may not be a politically correct stance for a local councillor but I am so incensed by the whole thing that I feel compelled to show my utter disgust. Who are these people? How do they think? What are they achieving? Couldn't it wait until the treatment was confirmed before they decided to arrest the parents? Who would keep a sick child from the immediate family? What is this police state we live in when it comes to children?

As you will know if you've read previous blog posts, I have been helping a father, who has been kept from his daughter for 5 years because of lies from his ex partner. He has been able to prove many of these lies but it appears to have been ignored. I am now coaching him (with my business hat on) totally pro bono to help him deal with the mental anguish of not only the 'living death' he is suffering but because of the injustice of the lies. This is traumatic and now I feel the authorities are scared the child will suffer again if contact is resumed. They believe they have done the right thing but what trauma will this poor girl suffer when she reaches 18 and then finds out that her mother, authorities and anyone else in the court system systematically worked towards the alienation of her father with lies and then more lies, as the goalposts are moved. How will she feel at finding out her natural paternal grandmother, who might not even be alive at this point, was deprived of enjoying her company in her latter years? Why should all these adults suffer because they dare not even allow supervised contact?

However he will remain strong - I will make sure I play my part in that - and he will see his daughter - however long it takes but so many do not have that support. Some grandparents who try to stop their grandchildren from being adopted have been gagged, bullied and controlled by authorities and the family courts when all they want is to take over the reins. This should be an automatic right, in my opinion.

So many men and grandparents are treated so coldly and despicably that they end up crushed, some even committing suicide. Is an adult worth less that a child? I'm not sure I'd answer that easily but I do know we could do things differently.

We just need to find a middle ground and use a bit of common sense, have some compassion for parents and think a little bit more than a short term panicked decision, which is what is happening with Ashya's parents.

The Spanish judge is deciding tomorrow at 11 whether to let the parents out and I hope that he has the humanity and compassion to do what is right.

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