Friday, 17 August 2012
'Cruelty to children
One of the less attractive features of the campaign against Graham Badman’s proposals becoming law, was the psychological cruelty inflicted by a number of parents upon their children, some of whom had special educational needs. During my own daughter’s childhood, I always conceived it to be a major part of my duty, to protect her from distress and shield her from worry. To reassure her, in fact, that she was safe and that there was nothing to worry about. This was not at all the line taken by some home educating parents in the run-up to the passage of the Children, Schools and Families Bill through parliament! For them, this was a golden opportunity to make their children anxious and in some cases hysterical with fear; simply so that they could claim that their children were being harmed by the very discussion of increased regulation of home education.
This is not a history lesson and if this sort of cruelty had ended with the abandonment of the CSF Bill in 2010, there would be little point in raking over the ashes. Unfortunately, it has not and there are still parents who are determined to exploit vulnerable children in order to make political capital of them. Consider this, which was less than three months ago:
Look at the advice given in the above post:
Always tell your children how much you love them and how, if ever they were taken from you, you would never, ever stop looking for them. Encourage them to respect their instincts and always to question the morality of authority. Make sure they learn their personal details as soon as they are old enough and tell them that wherever they are and whatever the circumstances they can always contact you.
I can imagine nothing more likely to terrify a young child out of her wits than to suggest the possibility that she might be snatched from the security of her family. It is the sort of thing which would cause most children to lay awake at night in terror, waiting to be taken. Why would you do that to your child? The answer is that you can then use your child’s response to brandish at local authorities or other people who wish to discuss a change in the law. ‘Look,’ you can tell them, ‘You have upset my child and she is now nervous and clingy, because she is frightened that social workers are about to snatch her away from her family.’
This was done by quite a few parents during the aftermath of the Badman Review. They used to boast about it on various lists. One mother announced that her son, who had developmental problems and was on the autistic spectrum, had had a ‘major meltdown’ when she told him that the authorities would be able to take him away from her for interrogation alone! I had hoped that mistreatment of this sort had ended, but judging from some of the things I have been hearing lately, it has not. There are still parents frightening their children in this way and warning them that the government wants to enter their homes and perhaps take them from their families.
I am expecting to see more of this sort of thing when the enquiry starts in Wales about the possibility of registration of home educated children. Incidentally, despite Alison Sauer’s irritation at my mentioning the proposals contained in the bill which the Welsh Assembly hopes to pass in the next year or so, I observe that others have picked up on the thing since I posted about it here. As I suspected, few people knew of it, but this has now been remedied. I am all in favour of change in the law, but I certainly believe that it should be discussed openly beforehand.