Wednesday, February 11, 2009

And finally: stay safe

In the past four days of studying the ECM five outcomes in a little more detail, we've learned that:

So, does anyone want to hazard a guess at what 'Stay safe' actually means? Let's see..

According to the Framework, 'stay safe's five aims are:

  • Safe from maltreatment, neglect, violence and sexual exploitation;
  • Safe from accidental injury and death;
  • Safe from bullying and discrimination;
  • Safe from crime and anti-social behaviour in and out of school; and
  • Have security, stability and are cared for.

Well, again, at first glance it looks like home education encompasses all those aims far more successfully than school ever could. But we know by now that it's not likely to be as simple as that.

I hope I have more success than yesterday in locating the relevant PSAs and DSOs for this one, which are as follows:

  • PSA 13 – Improve children and young people’s safety;
  • PSA 16 – Increase the proportion of socially excluded adults in settled accommodation and employment, education or training;
  • PSA 21 – Build more cohesive, empowered and active communities;
  • PSA 23 – Make communities safer;
  • Supported by: DCSF’s Departmental Strategic Objective to safeguard the young and vulnerable (DSO 2)

'Socially excluded adults' is code for anyone accepting any kind of state help with their income, or on a low enough income to be able to, so straight away we know that PSA 16 is all about this without needing to read it. I'd quite like (dread) to know what constitutes a 'cohesive, empowered and active community', other than one that contains a SureStart Centre. (Are there any left that don't?) But I think we probably need to start with PSA 13, if I can find it.

Yes, it's a Treasury one, so it's here [opens pdf]. (Because safety is obviously a Treasury issue..!)

Children cannot enjoy their childhoods or achieve their full potential unless they are safe.

Remember when you thought you were enjoying yourself climbing trees, or racing your go-cart? I hope you know now how mistaken you were about that.

Improving children’s safety means tackling a wide range of
issues – abuse and neglect..

Oh yeah, hence the workfare thing. Bad parents, to neglect your children's need for the latest Nike trainers! well as ensuring a stable home environment

- for the waking half-hour a day that they're allowed to be there.

Government has a role to play in supporting parents to strike the right balance between protecting their children and allowing them to learn and explore new situations safely.

You really can't be trusted to make these decisions by yourselves. And your children certainly can't.

However, this is not solely the responsibility of parents, or of local or national government. Helping children and young people to stay safe should be everyone’s responsibility.

Code: we're going to bribe your neighbour, your doctor and any other passing stranger to snitch on you if you dare to have any unauthorised fun. Then we're going to eCAF [opens pdf] the life out of you, like the Dementors from Azkaban.

Indicator 1: Percentage of children who have experienced bullying

In home education? Probably zero, or close.

Indicator 2: Percentage of children referred to children’s social care who received an initial assessment within 7 working days

That's the eCAF [opens pdf]. Soul-suckers.

(Dementors sense and feed on the positive emotions, happiness and good memories of human beings to move around, forcing them to relive their worst memories. The very presence of a Dementor makes the surrounding atmosphere grow cold and dark, and the effects are cumulative with the number of Dementors present. In addition to feeding on positive emotions, Dementors can perform the Dementor's Kiss, where the Dementor latches its mouth onto a victim's and sucks out the person's soul.

Sorry. We've been reading Harry Potter again..)

Indicator 3: Emergency hospital admissions caused by unintentional and deliberate injuries to children and young people

Do people still dare to take their children to hospital?

the Centre for Economics of Education will be carrying out an 18 month project looking at the Every Child Matters outcomes, including a specific focus on safety.

What has safety got to do with economics? Is this about safety, or about cutting back on NHS resources? Why is this a Treasury paper, when PSA 10, about 'enjoy and achieve' is a DCSF one?

Oh look, the other departments are being given something to do:

DCSF and DH are jointly funding the Safeguarding Research Initiative, which aims to improve knowledge of effective practice across a range of child safety issues, including neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) work.

- though I don't think there's much room for improvement in their practice of emotional abuse, do you?

3.12 The Government will continue current work to make the child protection process more responsive, which includes:
• implementing guidance on Working Together to Safeguard Children and What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused

- that's the NICE consultation we were discussing a couple of weeks ago, isn't it?

• improve appropriate referrals to social care by health professionals – the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence will publish guidelines for health professionals in 2009 on the identification of children with suspected abuse.

Oh. Yes, it is then. Make your child wear a coat; ruthlessly tear that slightly-too-small favourite dress from her screaming grasp, etc. You know it's in her best interests.

3.13 To further build on this existing work the Government will also:
• take forward actions to tackle recruitment and retention and to accelerate the pace of workforce re-modelling in social work. The Children’s Workforce Development Council will be a key delivery partner for this work, details of which are covered in their business plan for 2008-2011;

I wonder if the workfare plans have got anything to do with this new 'Children's Workforce'? Blackmailing us to police each other sounds like fairly standard 'control of the masses' technique, doesn't it? You don't need a degree in Social Work to carry out an eCAF [opens pdf].

• in addition, the Department for Children, Schools and Families will respond to the recommendations of the Byron Review, which has looked at how to help parents and children get the best from technologies while protecting them from harmful content on the internet or in video games.

Urgh, another one [opens pdf] to add to the reading list. 226 pages! Though I suspect it will all be leading to this.

Intervention projects should adopt a ‘think family’ approach – recognising the links and taking action where service users are parents and acting to safeguard children;

I'm not even going to comment on this. No, I am. They have deliberately dismantled the informal networks we had in place to deal with this stuff, and are now replacing them with their own increasingly intricate tangled webs of formal procedure: a souless and austere 'system' of faux care, policed by stick and carrot - but mostly stick. And they thought we wouldn't notice. Here it is, spelled out:

• universal services including schools, early years providers, extended school services, school health services, further education colleges, training providers working with 14 to 19-year-olds, housing services, local authority planners, parks/green spaces managers and road safety officers will work to create a safe environment for children and young people, educate children and young people about how to keep themselves safe, and refer any concerns about children’s safety to the relevant local agency.

• third sector organisations provide a range of preventative services relating to accidental and deliberate harm, including helplines, ensuring the safety
of those working with children, promoting the road safety of children and providing information and resources about accident prevention.

Those 'voluntary' organisations which, until the gullible public's money ran out, were pretending to be independent of government. It was a good system, when we still needed to be convinced that all of this was happening 'for our own good', but no longer necessary now that it's all pretty much legally in place.

I'm just reading through the rest of it to check that we're not all going to have to have our homes checked for safety (though I suppose that's part of the eCAF [opens pdf] isn't it?)

Something called the Staying Safe: Action Plan [opens pdf] is referred to a lot, so I suppose I'd better read that too. It includes the following:

This is being achieved in local areas around the country by different services working together as a Team Around the Child (TAC), using the Common Assessment Framework and sharing information where necessary about children at risk of harm.

- which, along with everything else I've read this morning, is starting to make me think that 'stay safe' might really mean 'be eCAFed' [opens pdf].

Oh and there's a little diagram too:

Stay safe

Spot the parents. We're in that tiny yellow strip over there on the right hand side, separated from the children by the thick grey bar that says: CAF and Contactpoint.

Enough of this. Let's reclaim our stake in reality, shall we? Here we go:

  1. It is parental instinct to keep children safe. Left to our own devices, we do this very well.
  2. To keep this instinct strong, we need to spend a lot of time with our children. It is possible for families to both provide for their needs (when they're not being screwed by the banks and public utility companies, aided and abetted by their own government) and take care of their own children without government intervention. Indeed, this is the most sensible and healthy (and safe) way for family life to be conducted.
  3. Being the subject of an eCAF [opens pdf] assessment is likely to be an extremely traumatic, emotionally abusive experience for children. This should not be made normal practice, because it is unnecessarily invasive and intrusive.
  4. Children learn to manage their own risks by enjoying a degree of freedom to make their own choices. Wholesale removal of that freedom will result in an unsafe society.
  5. Safety has nothing to do with money: it has more to do with choices. Unharassed people make better choices. "Act for the people's benefit. Trust them; leave them alone." - Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching. c.500BC

I'm planning to spend my next few blogging sessions on looking at the legitimacy of this ECM regime, before trying to guess what areas of the law might be changed to jemmy home educating families into it.

Meanwhile, do stay safe, won't you? *Rolls eyes*


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That diagram is horrifying. The whole thing is horrifying. It's really hard not to feel totally helpless. All I keep thinking is, when it comes to the actual real-life people who have to implement this stuff coming into our homes, we just have to pin our hopes on them being human, and reasonable, and taking all this guff with a pinch of salt.

When being visited by health visitors for example when R was a baby, it was obvious that pretty much their only function was to check for abuse (and signs of post natal depression, which they missed, but that's another story) and I could see in their faces, the minute they came into the house and saw that all was well and R was happy etc they kind of mentally ticked that box, and the rest of the visit was just them going through the motions of what we've been told health visitors' jobs are - all the chatting and weighing etc etc.

I know this stuff is a lot more serious and threatening than a health visitor, but I can't help having a firm believe in basic human decency, as misplaced as that may be.

Not sure if that makes much sense, but anyway that's the straw I'm clutching at at the moment!

That diagram's going to haunt me all day...

8:13 am, February 11, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

Debs, I'm clutching at that straw too. I think we're right to do so: in the absence of someone waving a magic wand to make this all go away, it's our only chance of getting through it intact.

8:16 am, February 11, 2009  
Blogger G said...

Yet try to get something out of these "professionals",
e.g. my daughter is 11 and only just hit 4 stone and I have been asking for help about her skinnyness for 7 years, they ignore you! "Does she eat" "Yes" "Nothing to worry about then" checks or anything to find why she is a bag of bones!
If I didn't say anything (why did I bother) I'd probaby be accused of starving her!

8:31 am, February 11, 2009  
Blogger Allie said...

I just typed a really long comment and blogger ate it!

In summary... I think that it is a problem when you have to rely on the 'reasonable' judgements of staff working in a state of panic. I think the panic in children's services since the baby p case is very real and these panics re-occur periodically. I think that people in a state of panic are even more influenced by their prejudices (with accompanying fear of differences) than they usually are.

I have often been comforted by the fact that the health visitor/eotas bod/doctor or whoever would recognise the 'ok-ness' of our family set-up. But, at the same time aware that this is often based on having a shared culture/class/language or whatever. If you raise up too many 'difference' flags then that 'ok-ness' seems to be harder for them to recognise. So, home ed might be ok, but home-ed, attachment parent, living in the 'wrong' part of town - then you're in trouble. The powers they seek will, I think, be used to 'discourage' those they see as 'inappropriate' people to be home educating.

9:38 am, February 11, 2009  
Blogger Tech said...

I used to have faith in the reasonableness of *professionals* until our GP screwed up big style when our baby was born. The mistakes he has made (and which will be on file) are simple ones, but if he can get simple things wrong the scope for bigger mistakes is very real, and very worrying. Yet because he is a *professional* he gets listened to we get cast as *service resistant* or whatever the current buzz phrase is. So please, don't rely on basic humanity in the guise of a professional - at the end of the day they are watching their own backs first and foremost.

9:52 am, February 11, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

I am beginning to think we have cause to take this to the UN the child will no longer have rights if this continues.
Oh I forgot the childrens society does the report to the UN and the childrens society are highly dependent on? come on is a clue..they are a charity... are you there yet?....that's it! Government Grants

10:26 am, February 11, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

Out of interest in this caf stuff these little bibles they are handing out for pro's that give 'alternatives i.e. A child clamping his hands over his ears could either be on the autistic spectrum , may have hearing problems, may find your presence alarming or you must also bear in mind that he could have suffered abuse.

10:41 am, February 11, 2009  
Blogger Ruth said...

Re: hands over ears: could said child be under the impression that a loud and/or alarming noise is occurring, or is about to occur? I only ask, because my four year old approaches most public toilets that way. She's scared of hand-driers. Is that weird, or just what some sensitive four year olds do?

11:17 am, February 11, 2009  
Blogger Tech said...

my twins refused to go in public toilets when they were 3-6 ish.It was the low level humming that did them in, plus the hand driers. They ahve different hearing so can hear higher pitched sounds than we can - you can only wonder what it must sound like to a small child if an adult can hear the humming.

11:51 am, February 11, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

"..may find your presence alarming.."

LOL! Can't think why.

Are children still allowed to find someone's presence alarming, then? Other than their parents, obviously?

2:06 pm, February 11, 2009  
Blogger Elaine said...

Jen and I went into a supermarkets facilities yesterday and I was enthroned when I heard the hand dryer start up, it made bog standard (no pun intended) dryers pale into comparison, and what went through my thoughts? ''blimey which dept am I going to find Jen hiding in''

7:47 pm, February 11, 2009  
Blogger lotusbirther said...

You can add charities such as the NSPCC to your list in your point 2 now
banks and public utility companies,
Just read Monday's e-Guardian from BishopHill blog...

10:20 pm, February 11, 2009  
Blogger Gill said...

That link to Bishop Hill is cunningly concealed in the post above, LB!

"Those 'voluntary' organisations which, until the gullible public's money ran out, were pretending to be independent of government."

There are quite a few other interesting links in there..

5:00 am, February 12, 2009  
Blogger Heidi said...

Turtlegnome said <<< e.g. my daughter is 11 and only just hit 4 stone and I have been asking for help about her skinnyness for 7 years, they ignore you! "Does she eat" "Yes" "Nothing to worry about then" checks or anything to find why she is a bag of bones! >>>

I know this is late and wholly off topic... but may I suggest you look up coeliac disease? 10% of the population has it, yet almost no GP ever seems to think of screening for it.

11:09 pm, February 17, 2009  

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