I guess the question here is what would be your reaction if you had been accused and were innocent. Simply, I would think that it is a necessary means to an end. The end in this case saving the life of a seventeen month old baby and the sixty other children who die at the hands of their parents every year in the UK. It seems OK to assume that every man with a camera is a paedophile, but not that any parent will deliberately hurt their child. Or that anybody who smokes is bad for children and cannot be a parent.
A council has stopped people becoming potential parents simply because they smoke. They argue that the danger of passive smoking means that under their duty of care they cannot allow children to be subjected to passive smoking. Now I do not want to go into the debate about passive smoking. However, if the council fell that this is the correct way then surely they should be taking any child of a smoker into care. It stands to reason doesn't it? They have made a stance but failed to follow through the consequences of that decision. Of course it is ridiculous to say that parents who smoke put their children in danger. It is akin to saying that car drivers should not be parents in case they are in an accident.
When the smoking ban came into force just over a year ago I did write here that next would be drink. It seems that this is now the case after Keith Vaz called for government interference into the price of alcohol and the banning of so called "happy hours". So much for a free economy you might argue. But so much for my freedom to access this free economy. It seems that I will have to pay the price for the minority once again. The minority in this case who cannot drink sensibly. Yes we have a drink culture in the UK, but pricing measures will make no difference whatsoever to those people anyway. Indeed, as you get more social security if you are registered alcoholic, I guess more will register as an alcoholic. Might even do so myself to enable me to get a weekly bottle of wine. I mean, seems to me that I am one of those the government are after. A regular drinker! So, I am a smoker and a drinker. Suddenly I feel that all that is wrong with society is my fault. I have managed to avoid the smoke police, but now I have the drink police on my back. Still with the multi-agency approach they will never catch me
I remember that six years ago I had an argument with the then head of Leeds Mentoring. So much of an argument indeed that I almost got sacked from the school I was working in. I had the temerity to criticise the multi-agency approach to care of children. I argued that all it would do is essentially ensure that nobody would take responsibility. I also suggested that as a model it was imperfect because it is simply impossible to get all the professionals involved around the same table at the same time. A fact shown a week or so later when I attended a case conference on an abused child that was attended by me and a social worker with apologies from eight other people. Sadly, the case of "Child P" echoes some of the arguments I eluded to six years ago. I was also shouted down at a conference for Every Child Matters when I said that although the philosophy was OK putting it into practice could not be possible without addressing both the issue of multi-agency working and the matter of protection of the workers when actually putting in their suspicions of child abuse. Again, it is clear from what I heard on the radio today that social workers still cannot simply report a suspected case of abuse without "hard evidence". If we are serious about protection of children, and as a society I do not think we are, then this would not be the case. There should be no need to resort to the precautionary principle that protects the parents rather than the child.