Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Child Practice Review on Dylan Seabridge

 I have been reading through the Child Practice Review which was held in the wake of Dylan Seabridges's death. One point leaped out at me, and this was that Wendy Charles-Warner's paper about safeguarding and home education was cited. This was a great shock, because this document has caused harm to home educators in several ways and to see it being consulted officially in this way is a little disturbing.

Those of you familiar with the thing will know that the author is hoping to tell us something about the rate of abuse in home educating families; Wendy Charles-warner claims in this paper to have something useful and novel to say about the levels of abuse in home educating families. How do we know how many home educated children are being abused? For the author, this is simple. For everybody else though, it is shockingly offensive and wholly misleading. The only way that abuse is measured is by the number of children with Child Protection Plans. The author thinks, quite wrongly, that any child with a Child Protection Plan in place must have been ill-treated, neglected or abused by her parents. She says this explicitly on page 13;

A child educated at home subject to a CPP is most usually found to have suffered at the hands of a carer or parent

This is completely untrue. Children are given Child Protection Plans for all sorts of reasons which do not involve suffering at the hands of their parents. Sometimes, a teenage mother is unable to cope, perhaps another mother has an unsuitable boyfriend, there is drug use, it look as though the mother is struggling; there are all kinds of reasons for CPPs. The aim of issuing one is often to avert problems. To suggest that any child with a CPP has ’suffered at the hands of a carer or parent’ is not only wrong, it is also stupendously offensive to parents who are being helped by social services. I know home educating parents  whose children have had, or do have, CPPs and I doubt very much whether any  of the professionals involved with them think that they are  are abusers!

In short, the only way that the author of Home Education and the Safeguarding Myth has been able to say anything at all about the abuse of both schooled and home educated children is by assuming that all or most Child Protection Plans are a result of abuse or neglect. This is quite untrue and tells us that we may safely disregard anything she has to say on the subject of levels of childhood abuse.

That a group of social workers, people from health and so on have been reading this sort of thing and seeing that a home educator herself thinks that any home educating parent with a CPP has probably been, as Wendy Charles-Warner puts it, suffering at the hands of a parent,  is terrible. I shall have more to say about this document in future posts.

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