Sunday, January 25, 2009


While we're all being kept busy with the home ed review, another consultation is quietly underway. This one comes from NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, and its draft guidance includes the following points in bold, interspersed with my own comments in brackets:

"Healthcare professionals should consider neglect if a child’s state of clothing or footwear is consistently inappropriate, for example, for the weather or the child’s size."

(One of my children hangs onto clothes that are a bit too small for her and keeps wearing them if she’s especially fond of them. Similarly, she prefers to go out without coat. No longer an option, is it? Except in summer.)

“Healthcare professionals should consider neglect if parents or carers fail to administer essential prescribed medication for their child.”

( - even, presumably, where the parent has reasons for disagreeing with the prescription.)

“Healthcare professionals should consider neglect if parents or carers persistently fail to obtain treatment for their child’s dental caries.”

(Have mercury amalgam injected into their teeth, or else.)

“Healthcare professionals should consider neglect if parents or carers persistently fail to attend follow-up outpatient appointments for their children that are essential to the child’s health and well-being.”

(Parents must not think for themselves, under any circumstances. The professionals are always right, and parents must not challenge that.)

“Inappropriate or unexplained poor school attendance. Healthcare professionals should consider child maltreatment if they become aware of poor school attendance that has no justification on health, including mental health, grounds.”

( - Attend school always, or risk being taken into care.)

“Excessive clinginess…”

(One of my children is very shy, which I suspect is an inherited trait. But children are often clingy in the presence of strangers, aren't they?)

“Child fails to seek or accept appropriate comfort or affection from an appropriate person when significantly distressed”

(Some people just don't like being comforted, surely? I don't, particularly.)

"• anger or frustration expressed as, for example, temper tantrum in a school-aged child or frequently flying into a rage at the least provocation..
• distress expressed as, for example, inconsolable crying."

(One of my children has very loud displays of temper, and sometimes cries loudly and unconsolably when she wants to, for e.g., 'persuade' her brothers to play a board game with her, after they've said no.)

“Healthcare professionals should consider child maltreatment if a child or young person regularly and persistently shows or is reported to assume age-inappropriate responsibilities which interfere with normal developmental tasks such as attending school. For example:
• a child may adopt a care-taking role for parents or siblings
• a very young child may show excessive comforting behaviours when witnessing parental distress”

(What are ‘excessive comforting behaviours’? If I cry, my child can’t hug me? Not that I go around crying a lot, but I'd like to reserve the right to in the case of, for e.g., sudden bereavement or shock.)

“Healthcare professionals should consider child maltreatment if a child responds to a health examination/assessment in an unusual, unexpected and developmentally inappropriate way, for example extreme passivity, resistance or refusal.”

And the pièce de résistance:

“Healthcare professionals should consider neglect if a child is not being cared for by a person who is able to provide safe or adequate care, including ensuring regular school attendance at compulsory school age.”


What are they doing to us?!


Blogger Gill said...

PS: there's a lot more besides those few exerpts. The draft guidance [opens pdf] is well worth a read.

8:24 am, January 25, 2009  
Blogger Carlotta said...

We have exactly that clothing issue with one of mine.

Plus on that point of reacting unusually, we would have failed that only this last week...DD completely clammed up and all because DD is USED TO BEING TREATED LIKE A SENSIBLE PERSON and thinks adults who talk down to and covertly test children are WEIRD and sick and best avoided if at all possible.

10:07 am, January 25, 2009  
Blogger Clare said...

Have done my own post on this - my children are being severely neglected according to NICE.

10:08 am, January 25, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

I can see your concern here, Gill. But I - maybe naively - suspect that the people who drafted this did not for one minute think of home education. Simply because it isn't in their way of thinking that there are other ways to educate a child than school. Doesn't change the fact that guidances like this could potentially be used against home educators - or other parents who take a slightly different than mainstream approach to what is healthy and what not...

10:18 am, January 25, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

That's probably true, Mieke, but the problem with all these guidlines IMO is that they're open to such varying interpretations. So while the people who wrote them might have the best of intentions, they can - accidentally or deliberately - be used quite differently by the people 'on the ground'.

Also, they completely overlook the negative effects of being monitored and checked, as usual. It's hugely stressful - ask anyone who's been the subject of Social Services enquiries.

I know children need caring for, of course, but I lament the demise of organic communities that would naturally do this with wisdom and compassion, without needing to have it all set out like this.

And the proliferation of guidelines and rules and regulations and public bodies - the creeping of the surveillance state, IOW - exacerbates that demise. You can't have social bridges where you've got social bonds, and the government has its own reasons for wanting us to depend on the former, not the latter.

10:57 am, January 25, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Carlotta - I would hope and expect my children to react in that way to that kind of treatment!

Clare, I'm off to read yours.

11:09 am, January 25, 2009  
Blogger Mieke said...

I'm totally with you.
An other concern is that with all this overregulating and nanny-ing there is a great risk of totally overshooting the mark.
The other day a young single mum (a friend of my daughter) came to me to ask advise about her toddler, who'd fallen - as little toddlers tend to do a lot - and was crying every time she tried to move her hand. I thought she might have sprained or broken something, so I advised her to go to A&E. The mum was very hesitant, because she'd been there only a few months ago with a minor injury and she was afraid they would put Social Services onto her...
I can imagine situations where a home ed family could actually do with some professional help, but are reluctant to seek it because of the risk they'd run to be deemed 'unfit parents'.
I've tried to formulate something along these lines in my answer to the consultation, because I honestly think that they are creating the opposite of a healthy and safe environment for children.

11:32 am, January 25, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

And next is the spotting signs of child abuse in the disabled child.
Doc Kelly teaches nhs staff whose health trusts pay big money on courses in child abuse and spotting abuse in disabled and we all know what a professional he is. It is a lucrative industry look at this for a job description

And moving on from nhs to schools yup they have an industry built up too

spend 4hrs with us and you can go back to your schools as experts who will be listened to by ss when you say a child is abused you will be able to tear families lives apart and ensure the continued employment of lots of know it alls during this time of economic uncertainty

12:16 pm, January 25, 2009  
Blogger these boots said...

Yes Elaine, I remember something along these lines when I was doing workshops with young people ... some stupid handout about how to spot possible abuse and what to do about it. I was there as an arts practitioner, for goodness sakes, not qualified to do owt else! I did, on one memorable occasion, help the class expose the emotional abuse that their teacher was handing out on a daily basis ... she was 'offered more support' thereafter.

2:09 pm, January 25, 2009  
Blogger Ruth said...

My autistic cildren do many of the things they would class as a red flag including wearing wellingtons in the summer, not wanting confort from others, flying into rages and resisting health care intervention ( B kicked a G.P in the face once out of fear) and why should they decide what meds our kids have? It will be compulsory vaccinations next.

2:26 pm, January 25, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Your friend was probably right to be concerned, Mieke? The temptation is to allow children to take fewer natural risks in play, because of the risks to the family - not just the child - after an accident. Borken bones etc can and do heal relatively quickly, but broken families stay damaged for generations.

Elaine, nothing surprises me about that man and yes, parents of disabled children will presumably be sitting ducks, as ever :-( Lucrative indeed. As Tech says - follow the money.

Lucy, can you just clone yourself a few hundred thousand times? We wouldn't have a problem then! xx

Ruth now I think your children are exonerated due to their autism diagnoses. The guidance makes some reference to that.. "Healthcare professionals should consider child maltreatment if a child’s behaviour or emotional state is
not consistent with the child’s age and developmental stage or the child’s emotional state or behaviour cannot be explained by medical causes, neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. ADHD, autism spectrum disorders) or other psychosocial stressors (e.g. bereavement or parental separation)"

So given certain circumstances and conditions, it's ok to be upset and perhaps even to wear 'strange' clothes. *rolls eyes*

3:35 pm, January 25, 2009  
Blogger mamadillo said...

But for that exemption to be in place you would have to have a formal diagnosis...

9:50 pm, January 25, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Exactly. If there's no *official* explanation, as listed in the guidelines, you're in trouble.

4:10 am, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Allie said...

I'm sure there's nothing new in any of these suggestions. Things like lack of appropriate clothing and medical care have long been seen as possible 'warning signs' of neglect, I would imagine. And I don't doubt that that can, indeed, be the case. But there is clearly a difference between someone *choosing* alternative treatment options for their child, or respecting their child's choice of unusual clothing - and, blimey, we've certainly been down that road in our house - and simply not providing clothes or medical care.

These sorts of lists are, once again (yawn) written from a position of ignorance of the diverse (and perfectly legal) range of parenting styles we might employ. Personally, I think it's neglect not to swallow your embarrasment when your child wants to go to the shops in costume, but I can't imagine that finding its way onto their list... ;-)

8:26 am, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Good point, Allie.

12:29 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger cosmic seed said...

You rea quite right Ali; the other day we had an incident with our son (5) who was determined to go out dressed in a rather unusual way, and DH and I were trying to persuade him not to because we didn't want him to look silly to other people - he was very upset and determined that he would do as he wanted, so we gave in. We really should just have let him without making any comment and saved him the angst, but this whole thing is playing so much on our minds at the moment *sigh*.

2:43 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger mamadillo said...

I'm aware of one of the authors of this guidance. A 'child abuse expert' who is used to being Mr God and believes his own theories over all else even when they're proven false and discredited. A very very scary man to be involved in opinion-forming on this matter...

5:40 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

I think you just summed up the problem with this whole, psychopathic, totalitarian, hierarchical system there, Trog.

5:49 pm, January 26, 2009  
Blogger dottyspots said...

Hmmmmm, I'm wary over children being exhonorated due to a diagnosis on the austistic spectrum, for example, because this can open its own can of worms (from personal experience).

Although Australian in origin, this blog: written by a mental health nurse whose son was eventually diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, is a very interesting read (an 'attachment disorder' was originally the opinion of the 'professionals')

12:48 pm, January 31, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

I'm wary of that too, Nikki. It means that normal, un-medically-diagnosed quirks, or unusual (unconforming?) personality traits are not to be accounted for.

11:37 am, February 01, 2009  
Blogger lotusbirther said...

aarrgghh! I forgot to respond to this! (even though I am not an official stakeholder, I still would've done) gggrrrr.

10:46 am, February 14, 2009  

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