BOX TICKING HAS TO STOP! TRIANGLES AND CIRCLES ARE NO BETTER THAN SQUARES!
Could the SNP use the Named Person ruling by the supreme court to overhaul the way child protection functions in Scotland? If they really are the party they claim to be this would be a great time to show us doubters that they do put the human rights of the people of Scotland before their own political ends.
When it comes to children and families our current system of social work intervention picks and mixes when it comes to human rights. Unfortunately the essential life saving work done by social workers is balanced by the destruction caused to families who receive unnecessary intervention.
Last night the family and I were celebrating Mr Kimlin’s and my fourteenth wedding anniversary. We went for a picnic at our favourite view point and blew bubbles. We’d had bubbles at our wedding instead of confetti.
I brought up the headline quote by the Nestle chief about water not being a human right.
Banana Bug appeared confused and said “Huh.”
So I repeated the headline. And she looked more confused and said, “That makes no sense.”
Sometimes I think I’m doing a good job with these kids ;)
Having read more than his headline there are elements of what he said that I agree with.
The ECHR has given us a lot of rights and I’m sure most people have seen this:
]The Human Rights we have over data access are there for a reason and it is not for neither the Scottish Government nor Moray Council to decide which ones they choose to go with. It’s not a pick and mix deal. These aren’t cherry lips and cola bottles they are the rights we have to live our lives unmolested.
This family have been put through hell:
Chronically Ill Teen in Moray
Clare is one of the strongest people I've ever met. What has happened to her family is horrendous.
There was no real help available from politicians (anyone in this situation soon realises how true Yes Minister was and that those we elect have far less power over our every day life than unelected officials) in fact they continue to be ignored by some who should be helping and the council have ignored and whitewashed it (as usual in these cases). Its been a long period of hell that a family already dealing with chronic health issues don't need. My children's Named Person wasn't the guidance teacher but my children's Named person, the council's "inclusion officer", was a major antagonist in this story. I've put inclusion officer in quotes because my family and I didn't feel included in anything during that time. He also, unlike his exceptional predecessor, has a woeful lack of understanding of home education and has more than once made statements at odds with Scottish Government guidelines. Not least the several months spent trying to force my family to have a timetabled routine and "classes". I home educate my children I do not homeschool them. There's a big difference.
My own family, also in Moray has been put through a similar hell. When my fibromyalgia flared up on one occasion my husband also became ill (they were diagnosed with diabetes and anaemia).
Moray Council social work department has no real frame work for dealing with chronic illness whether that is the child or the parent. My fibromyalgia was regularly compared to me having an alcohol or drug problem by the department. All I can say is if they send me to rehab I promise to kick the pain and fatigue habit. There were concerns when they came in first… my family was struggling to cope and I had those same damn concerns myself. But the approach was not about helping my family it was pure and simple interference with professionals taking credit for something they hadn’t done.
My fibromyalgia and Mr Kimlin’s health issues had seen us in a mess before – we didn’t have social work on our back that time so when we came out of it the mess took about three weeks for us to straighten up and get back on our feet. With social work “help” it took over a year and a half. The issues went from being genuine to being about a crust under the sofa, me not vacuuming every day and a bathroom bin my boys had knocked over.
A computer without its case was declared unsafe. My husband is a computer technician with over ten years experience, they knew that, but they could not accept that there was nothing unsafe about the arrangement (well the kids might have hit their heads on it). If it had been unsafe we wouldn’t have left it like that.
Both Mr Kimlin and myself have our own areas of expertise and education but that was constantly brushed aside and ignored. By the end of it my confidence was destroyed and I was made to feel worthless. If a husband had treated me the way the social work had it would be classed as emotional abuse. A lady who didn't know me very well stopped me in the park and asked me what was wrong. She said: "I used to admire the way you dealt with your kids and you seem to be struggling now." I had gone from being a pretty good mum to a shouty, unhappy and miserable individual As a family we had stopped laughing.
Less serious than in Clare’s case, but along the same lines my son has a squint and my daughter got covered in either hives or bites. The opthamologist, orthoptist and my GP were happy with how I handled both situations. However, Moray Council were not. It was a constant battle that cost the NHS more money than it needed to spend. I do wonder with these people whether they realise that public money is not infinite so should be spent wisely.
If they are going to investigate every family who has the issues we were by the end they are going to be so busy that children genuinely in danger will get missed. As it is I think the department is a Baby P case waiting to happen because of their singular inability to listen to families.
Fault was found where there was no fault to be found. When my sons sat for over an hour at a table with an educational psychologist because that's what they did with me on a regular basis it was suggested they did that because they were starved of attention.
There was never any focus on the real issue which was two sick parents who needed help. We did eventually receive a family support worker but by that point we were getting back on our feet and whilst she was fabulous we didn’t need her any more.
All the departmern did was cost the tax payer money and waste their time which could have been spent helping a family which they had the resources to help. Although I am sure that my case files will say how much they achieved with our family.
The constant interference left my family damaged. It’s a damage that my older two children have not recovered from and there are times I still cry over the harm done to them. A social work investigation should not harm the children. We should be getting it right for ever child and the current approach across the UK today does not do that. It probably harms more children than it saves. That isn’t good for anyone because it creates a divide and because there are so many stories there are many people who would think twice before reporting concerns.
A later incident saw me “referred to the children’s panel” over ussanding the floors, two mouldy courgettes in a vegetable box and the fact my daughter had a panic attack when they were mentioned. There may have been more concerns but I refused to let them in the house. I placed referred to the children’s panel in quotes because I have the letter that said I had been referred and my health visitor was told I had been referred. However, after three months of worry (which covered two children’s birthdays) I phoned the reporter to the children’s panel only to be told they had never heard of me. But again the incident was typical. The work being done wasn't seen only the work undone and instead of seeing a vegetable box as evidence of a healthy diet the two mouldy ones (which I didn't by the way feed to the children) were focused on.
What happened to my family was very much degrading treatment. If the SNP claim to back the ECHR then a complete overhaul of the way Social Work and Education departments across Scotland respond to families who have a strong, decent basis but need help needs to change. Giving me a cleaner for a week to help me get straight would have achieved more and cost less. I should add that a lot of the promised help never arrived either.
Children and families are not boxes to be ticked. They are people who need to be listened to and yes sometimes those families need help. Moray Council and the Scottish Government don’t want to GIRFEC they want ECFAB (Every Child to Fit a Box) – children to fit neatly into those beautiful triangle and circular boxes they’ve designed. But every child and every family does not fit that model. Most families have love at their base and as long as there is no abuse they muddle through most calamities.
I am a rubbish poet but I wrote this about my time under the cosh of Moray Council:
Rifle through my drawers
nothing to her taste – too cheap for her
She blew her nose on them
then hung them on the line
Hoisted it on the roof.
Took a can of spray paint
and daubed my house
and my life
and my soul.
You don't deserve to parent.
You felt you were more important than my children
Your needs came first.
No I don’t feel.
You rendered me unable to feel.
Faced with rebellion
she brought out the threats
the heavy guns
To blow away my family.
But she did not succeed
5000 words of complaint
made the blood drain
headless chickens came out
like Tom Sawyer
Her mates whitewashed
We were dropped
unhelped but injured
to lick our own wounds
and repair their damage.
But that harm will always be
etched upon my children
their confidence knocked
their trust for authority damaged.
This Yes Minister Clip comes to mind:
Over the next few weeks I’m going to run a series of blog posts about Named Person. Although the Supreme Court ruled the data sharing element illegal (which makes the whole scheme toothless), the Scottish government are rabid in their attempts to get the Named Person back on track. I’ve too much information to fit into one blog entry as this one has already become a monster. All those contributing will be kept anonymous for a variety of reasons. You don’t have to believe their stories but I would recommend everyone in Scotland with a child finds out what their Named Person/Local Authority holds on them (yes you may already have a Named Person and your data may have been illegally shared). This is how to go about obtaining the personal data of both yourself and your child:
Unfortunately the right wing press I wouldn't usually touch with a barge pole were the only ones covering Named Person in any detail until recently.
I have to confess to being a hypocrite because I know my information isn’t good and I’m not sure I want to read it. I’m a home educator with Fibromyalgia. Both are big targets for my local authority which treats both my chosen lifestyle and medical condition with suspicion. During a complaints meeting the social worker taking down my issues compared, in front of a local councillor, my Fibromyalgia to an alcohol or drug addiction four times. All I can say is send me to rehab, baby, and I’ll kick the habit! All the time and money spent needlessly on my family could have gone into something that really helped abused children.
As a parent of three children under fourteen I find Scotland a concerning place to raise them. However, this is my home and has been for over twenty-five years. The beaches are wonderful, my husband has a good job and we have a decent lifestyle. I don’t want to uproot my children and I’d rather fight for their rights.
Disclaimers based on the accusations thrown at me most frequently by the proponents of the scheme:
As Tallulah on my Facebook page said much better than I could: When you are making assumptions about who pushed against the Named Person (data sharing aspect), remember that not all of us had the money to pursue legal means -- the legal action cost £300,000. Some of us could only lend moral support to those who had the means to do it. Don't make assumptions about all those who lent support because of the nature of the actual pursuers (Christian Institute and others). The force in support of the challenge was a very diverse bundle of people concerned about human rights and the spreading thinly of precious resources in child protection. I'm only saying this as I've been called a 'God botherer' and 'extreme Christian' who only wishes to 'own their children' and 'indoctrinate' them. Nothing could be further from my truth. People do like to make massive assumptions though.
And there is the nub of it. As I understand it in Scotland we cannot take out a class action lawsuit like they can in England. Being from Liverpool, I hope this issue is handled like Hillsborough but doesn’t take until my children are middle aged to yield similar results. We definitely need an independent public enquiry. Opening this up and asking questions may well provide us with a much better child protection system and more children saved. It may even find ways to reduce the suspicion in which the state is viewed.
Our younger generation are having a harder time than at any time previous. Houses are difficult and expensive to come by, higher education is an expense that my generation didn’t have and none of them are looking forward to a state pension. A child in abusive relationship with their parents has a very bleak outlook and a difficult time escaping well into adulthood.
With every other minority group we give them rights to protect them, so why are the SNP and the Scottish Greens so hell bent on removing the rights that children currently have?
Banana-Bug is a teenage girl. At present she can go to the doctors for help without even me being told, but if Named Person in its full intended version had gone ahead she would no longer have that privacy. That’s a right the Scottish Government wanted to take from her. Worse still if she goes on contraception a man she finds creepy and who went out of his way to destroy her confidence will now be told. Why does he even need to know if she gets pregnant? She should still have the right to refuse that information being shared with him.
Named persons were described as head gardeners over the parents. Well I think a child should have the right to sack any gardener working for them.
Think back to your own school days… all your guidance and head teachers.
We’ve all known of teachers even guidance and headteachers who were awful, who made us feel uncomfortable or who we plain didn’t get on with. Think of that teacher – would you want them knowing sensitive information about you that they had no right to know? I had a couple I wouldn’t want knowing if I went on the pill.
What about this woman:
That woman was being trained to tell your child that she was their confidante and that they didn’t have to tell Mummy and Daddy anything they discussed.
Parents need rights in place to protect their children from interference from the state because it has a track record in causing harm in many cases. It provides a check and balance just like when the state can take a child in danger from a parent.
The Scottish Government would have been better putting the millions they have ploughed into this scheme (not to mention the cost of a court case) into schemes that do help abused children. Give those children empowerment, increase their rights to move away from home and shelters they can just walk into, allow bullied children to just leave school with their parent’s support, give parents greater rights to speak up for their children against state interference…. Youth Cafes, children's clubs, breakfast clubs etc provide children safe environments to go and get food. Instead council cuts are having to be made to pay for a scheme that doesn’t work.
Isobel Gaudie, another one who would be surprised to be called a right-wing god-botherer, also from my Facebook page said:"The SNP needs to stop the arrogance and accept these plans were wrong. Until it does, nobody can trust this Scottish government any more to put the best interests of families before its own political ends."
So much for a light-hearted blog about family life! I’m very much a discovery writer and it often leads me down the path unexpected. I write for the same reason I read – to turn the page and find out what happens next. At writers group this week, I wrote a poem that gave me this week’s topic. (I will share it but please bear in mind I am no great poet – it’s something I do sometimes).
Anyone who dares to read the appalling comments under LGBTQ news articles will know that there are many people who struggle to grasp the concept of consenting adults. My view is that if you’re over eighteen and agree to a sexual encounter or to be objectified it’s none of my business.
As parents my husband and I started teaching our children consent from tiny babies. When we massaged them we would rub our hands together and ask them did they want a rub. Even at only a few months old they either reacted with excitement or made it clear they weren’t in the mood.
I’m an affectionate, huggy type but I’ve ended up with a daughter who doesn’t like touch. We’re at opposite ends of the hug spectrum. Banana Bug has always been self sufficient. She hated cosleeping and only liked slinging outside the house because people talked to her more in the sling than they did in the pram. At home she preferred to sit in a chair and watch what we were doing rather than be held. I learned early on that alone in a dark room she would cry for a moment or two then sleep whereas if I held her she’d cry for hours. Now she’s twelve we have a compromise – she will hug me on my birthday and at Christmas. It’s so hard as a parent not to hold a child tight when they’re distressed but she needs space to deal with things. (Her brothers love their cuddles although my nine year old is pretending he doesn’t at the moment) And one day I will find someone to knit me substitute daughter that I can hug. Aside from her touch issues she is a fab kid and I wouldn’t swap her.
But the rules are simple in our home, unless someone is in danger you only touch another when you have consent to do so. Play fighting becomes fighting as soon as one party wants to stop.
A recent viral news story about the Stanford Rapist produced a victim statement so powerful that it’s hard to read:
Here is the news story and that victim statement in full. I agree with the senator that this statement deserves to be amplified. Perhaps the most shocking thing is that his parents could not grasp that their son’s twenty minutes of “fun” had given Emily Doe a life sentence. He got away with six months in prison and will no longer be allowed to compete for the US swimming team at the Olympics.
I’m one of the one in four women and I have a story. I was fifteen and there was a soldier with PTSD. He wasn’t long back from Iraq. It was in a ladies toilet and he held a glass to my mouth and pinned me to a wall. There was no way to fight back or even scream. That man’s actions have not defined me but he has left a lifetime mark that has not be erased. I appreciate he could not help himself and was in a bad place but so was my life at the time.
Far worse for me has always been the police reaction afterwards. The man that attacked me went on to physically batter two other women, throwing one through a plate glass hotel reception. I was not anyone’s priority. My mother had been one of the women attacked and was not in a fit state to stand up for me.
The police said I’d been too drunk to be a reliable witness and I’d been provocatively dressed. They were not going to take it further. Whilst I was more drunk than a fifteen year old should have been, I was wearing a man’s shirt and a pair of trousers… but should it matter? Do I have to justify it? I was fifteen and was not a consenting adult. He knew my age. His sentence for beating two women and his “assault” on me? A £150 fine.
In 2009 I wrote a story for NaNoWriMo about a man being raped by a woman and some of the stories I received by email were beyond heartbreaking. As hard as it was for me to speak up about my experiences it is far harder for a man. None of the men I talked to then had ever come forward and in many places a woman raping a man is not seen as a crime or will be treated as sexual assault. One thing I am sure of is that we do not know the extent of these crimes as the ones that make up the crime figures are exceptions rather than the rule
My poem uses the traditional pronouns but that’s because it was inspired by a picture of a boy and girl, and the story of the Stanford Rapist. Rape is about victims and perpetrators the gender of either is immaterial.
The news story was still very much on mind when we were given the challenge of writing a poem based on a photograph. I chose one of two children at school. The girl looked straight at the camera with a determined expression whereas the boy was looking away, fed up:
TWENTY MINUTES LATER
at her pigtail
under the desk
“I said stop that.”
“It’s only because he likes you, Tilly.”
at her pigtail.
“Leave me alone.”
under the table.
“I said leave me alone.”
"I’ll be with you in a minute, Tilly."
at her pigtail
“I’m warning you.”
under the table
“Stop it. I’m warning you.”
Her cry for help is ignored.
at her pigtail
“I warned you.”
under the table.
“Oh Billy, you’re bleeding.”
“Tilly! How could you?”
She learns he has the right to pester
He learns she has no right to fight him off
she said leave me alone
she passed out
two Swedes dragged him off
he gets a six month sentence.
In twenty minutes
she gets a life sentence
on a pigtail
“Stop that. Miss?”
“Billy stop that. Now!”
There’s never another twenty minutes.
The Kimlin Family