Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Failed by the system: 25 abused children die under the noses of British social workers
They're too busy harassing middle class families for imaginary offences
Twenty-five children have died and dozens more been seriously injured despite being known to social services, an Ofsted report reveals.
Vulnerable youngsters are let down in ‘too many’ cases by professionals who fail to listen to the concerns of grandparents, neighbours and even fathers, it says. In four of the cases, grandparents reported concerns but this did not lead to effective action.
Local authorities and other agencies failed to learn lessons from the Baby P scandal, the report shows. He was found dead, aged 17 months, in a blood-splattered cot having suffered a broken back and fractured ribs in August 2007.
Ofsted assessed 67 serious case reviews (SCRs) between April 1 and September 30 last year involving 93 children. Thirty-nine had died. SCRs, carried out by safeguarding boards, are triggered after a death or serious injury, where abuse or neglect is suspected. They can come as much as two years after an incident.
Of the 93 children, 70 were known to social services. Twenty-five of these died, including four who were subject to active child protection plans.
Ofsted warned that too often the focus on the child was ‘lost’ as they were not seen by the professionals involved or not visited regularly enough. In some cases, the child was seen but not questioned and there was often an ‘over reliance’ on what the parents claimed.
In a case involving a family of seven children, a grandmother had repeatedly contacted social carers alleging sexual and physical abuse of her grandchildren by their stepfather. Ofsted said that this failed to trigger child protection procedures. It was not until more than a decade later that disclosures were made by the eldest children, revealing the abuse that had taken place.
A tendency by agencies to overlook the role of fathers, male partners and other men living within families was also a ‘common theme’, the report said.
Referring to one case, it added: ‘One of the children, living with the mother, was sexually abused by the mother’s partner. ‘The father passed information many times to children’s services and to the police that the mother’s partner was a registered sex offender and had unrestricted access to the children.’ The SCR found that although steps were taken to ‘monitor or restrict access’, the father was ‘not properly listened to’.
The watchdog said that warning signs were also ignored when parents and carers refused access to their homes.
It added: ‘A lesson from some of the SRCs was that practitioners had not listened sufficiently to the child or had not paid enough attention to their needs. ‘They had focused too much on the parents, especially when the parents were vulnerable.’
It highlighted a case where a baby suffered skull fractures even though the family was known to agencies due to the mother’s alcohol abuse. Meanwhile, signs of grooming by a sex offender and the ‘significance of domestic violence’ were sometimes ‘overlooked’.
A teenager had been the subject of internet images in which she was sexually assaulted. She and her brother had been ill-treated by their mother and sexually abused by their uncle. The family was known to agencies in three local authorities where they had lived and there had been ‘sufficient information’ for the abuse to be recognised.
Christine Gilbert, Ofsted’s chief inspector of schools, said: ‘It’s shocking to see that too often children in vulnerable situations are not heard by those who should be looking out for their interests.’
Moral Monsters in Afghanistan and Moral Idiocy in America
Given the preoccupation of the American media with the possible closing down of the American government, and the preoccupation of American and world media with Japan's travails and the revolts in the Arab world, many Americans may have missed the news about the April 1 massacre of United Nations employees in Afghanistan.
That is unfortunate because it was as significant as it was instructive.
It began on Sunday, March 20, when a pastor named Terry Jones burned a Quran at his small church in Florida. To their credit, almost no American media covered the event, and a mere 30 people came to witness it. But Jones broadcast the offensive and asinine event on the Internet -- and did so with Arabic subtitles.
To the best of our knowledge, since Sept. 11, 2001, when 19 Muslims murdered 3,000 Americans, not one American out of a population of more than 300 million has publicly burned a Quran. Nevertheless, some Muslims in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) claimed that this one American and this one act, which was condemned by every prominent American of every religion and every political persuasion, was deemed worthy of retribution. And that retribution was the slaughter of as many non-Muslims as they could find.
On April 1, hundreds of enraged Afghan Muslims descended on a United Nations office building in Mazar-i-Sharif and murdered -- by beating, stabbing and cutting throats four Nepalese, a Norwegian, a Swede and a Romanian.
It is worth reflecting on this massacre. Let us remind ourselves about the mindset of those Muslims and of any Muslims who agree with them. To these people, murdering any non-Muslims they can find is a just and Islamic response to the burning of a Quran.
This is important to note because it gives one a clearer picture of the type of the person the Islamist is. We have here a level of moral primitiveness unknown elsewhere in the human race. There are bad people in every religion, in every country and in every group. But we do not know of any group, let alone millions of people, who believe that murder is a proper response to an affront to their religion (or to their country or to their ethnic group).
The world's more than 2 billion Christians regularly endure far greater affronts to their religion, yet not one Christian has murdered anyone specifically because of these affronts. For example, an artist, Andres Serrano, put a crucifix in his urine and titled it "Piss Christ"; yet he knows that he doesn't have to worry about even one Christian hurting him. Likewise, not one of the museum curators whose museums have exhibited the work believe they have anything to fear from even one of the world's 2 billion Christians.
And what about the Christians regularly murdered by Muslims in Egypt, Iraq and elsewhere? Why haven't these crimes, infinitely morally worse "affronts" than the burning of a Quran -- or a Bible -- produced anything analogous to the enraged Muslims in Afghanistan?
The frequent and large demonstrations in the Muslim world against affronts -- real and imagined -- to Islam need to be juxtaposed with the utter absence of demonstrations against the now-routine murdering of innocents in the name of Islam.
Even the notion of religious affront needs to be examined. Isn't evil done in the name of one's religion more of an affront than evil done against one's religion? I suspect this is how nearly every Jew and Christian thinks. The vast majority of Christians would be considerably more affronted by murders of innocents in the name of Christ than by insults -- like "Piss Christ" -- to Christ. Why, then, isn't the Muslim world more affronted by all the Muslims who shout "Allah is the greatest" while cutting the throats of innocent men, women and children than by illustrations of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper or the burning of a Quran by a crackpot in Florida?
Unfortunately, the moral confusion wasn't confined to Afghanistan. Though in no way morally equivalent, we Americans exhibited our own form of moral confusion in regard to the Quran burning.
Joe Klein, political commentator for Time magazine, morally equated Terry Jones and the Afghan murderers: "There should be no confusion about this: Jones's act was murderous as any suicide bomber's."
Anyone with common sense knows that there is no moral equivalence between destroying a book, no matter how holy, and destroying a human life. So how does one explain Klein's statement?
Klein is a leftist, and his comment embodies two aspects of the contemporary left. One is the left's hard time identifying and confronting real evil.
Instead of focusing on Islamism, the left focuses on small evils like alleged pay gaps between men and women working at the same job or on non-evils such as carbon dioxide emissions. Or they engage in moral equivalence: The Muslim murderers are no worse than Terry Jones.
The other characteristic of the left embodied in Klein's statement is what George W. Bush called the "soft bigotry of low expectations." It is clear that Klein has contempt for Muslims. If Christians had slaughtered innocents because of "Piss Christ," it would never have occurred to Klein to write, "There should be no confusion about this: Serrano's act was as murderous as any slaughtering Christians."
With Islamism dominating major parts of the Muslim world, and leftism dominating much of the non-Muslim world, these are not the best of times.
Welfare for the Well-Off
The case against government subsidies for public broadcasting
The local public radio station, WCVE, is in the midst of its spring fundraiser. As someone who tunes in most mornings, I kicked in some bucks for the good of the cause last week. And if you pay taxes in Virginia, you did, too.
Gov. Bob McDonnell tried to have it otherwise. He sought repeatedly to slash state funding for public broadcasting, but was gainsaid by the General Assembly—which trimmed appropriations for public radio and TV by only 10 percent.
During debate on the governor's budget amendments last Wednesday, Del. Jennifer McClellan, a Richmond Democrat, displayed an Elmo doll on her desk. Dear, cute, sweet Elmo! All those in favor of tossing the little red fellow into the fetid maw of some slaverous beast vomited up from the bowels of hell by voting to defund "Sesame Street," please raise a hand. Nobody? Not one soul? Didn't think so.
That, regrettably, seems to be roughly the level of discourse surrounding public broadcasting: Are you pro-Elmo, or do you hate anything that makes children happy?
This is known as the fallacy of the false alternative. There is of course a third alternative. Elmo, NPR, Frontline, and many other menu items on the public-broadcasting buffet could do just fine without a government subsidy, and might even be better off, as former NPR exec Ron Schiller said in a now-infamous sting video by right-wing provocateur James O'Keefe.
Public broadcasting's supporters sometimes say otherwise. When critics of government subsidies complain about the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, friends of NPR (etc.) say the government stipend is just a drop in a very large funding bucket. When critics then say in that case the stipend would not be missed if it were stopped, supporters say funding cuts would be devastating. Well: Is the stipend significant, or not?
Assume it is significant. To say that cutting the subsidy would be devastating is not, in itself, an argument against doing so—because it does not explain why the subsidy should exist in the first place.
Here, supporters of public broadcasting make two points. First, public broadcasting serves state purposes because stations sometimes help out with online training for schoolteachers and provide educational programming used in the schools. Yes, but: Is a stipend for public broadcasting the only way to provide such services? If the answer is "yes," then wouldn't it be useful to treat the station providers as contractors who should invoice the state for services rendered? When the commonwealth of Virginia buys ammunition for state troopers, it doesn't provide a general subsidy for the Remington corporation with the vague expectation that the local gun store will eventually send over a few boxes of 9 mm cartridges in return.
It used to be possible to argue that public broadcasting provides program content unavailable elsewhere. But the profusion of new media—from educational children's TV to live-streamed Internet feeds from General Assembly floor debates—has blunted that point almost to a nullity. There may be occasional shows that offer unique content, such as the recent "Virginia Currents" feature on the Flying Circus of Bealeton air show. Does such a program truly serve a core purpose of state government? Really?
It certainly does not serve a social-welfare function. The median household income of an NPR listener is $86,000—50 percent higher than that of an ordinary American family. Public broadcasting subsidies are welfare for rich (or at least richer) people.
The remaining case for supporting public broadcasting (other than the fact that the wrong people oppose it—a knee-jerk, red-team/blue-team reaction that seems to explain a great many positions taken on both sides of the political aisle these days) is that public broadcasting does many wonderful things. This runs up against what one might call the Libyan-intervention question.
The Obama administration essentially has said humanitarian reasons trump constitutional rules about who can start a war. But humanitarian reasons would justify military intervention in a dozen or more places around the globe. So why single out Libya? Likewise, countless organizations and institutions do good things. Why single out public broadcasting for government support? Why not also give government money to newspapers, to the Girl Scouts, to the SPCA, and so on ad infinitum? No coherent answer forthcomes.
One complaint about public broadcasting commands sympathy. Only a small percentage of those who listen to public radio and watch public television contribute during pledge drives—despite the fact, as noted above, that they tend to have more disposable income. A far greater percentage of listeners, however, seem to think non-listeners should be forced through compulsory taxation to support what they themselves will not support voluntarily.
To explain that peculiarity, one should turn to Brian Caplan, an economist at George Mason University. "The wealthy but uncharitable socialist," he wrote a few years ago in The Independent Review, "ceases to be a mystery once you understand relative prices. Voluntary charity is costly to the giver, but voting for charity ... is virtually free."
Australia: No penalty for black pedophile
Young black girls are less deserving of protection than are white girls, apparently
A MAN who "married" a 13-year-old girl and got her pregnant has escaped jail after pleading guilty to having sex with a child under 16. The Northern Territory Supreme Court heard the man was 23 when he married the girl, "in the Aboriginal sense" in a remote community, the Northern Territory News reports.
The relationship only came to light when the girl gave birth and a subsequent DNA test proved he was the baby's father.
Chief Justice Trevor Riley told the man that the court would be "blind to reality" if he did not impose a penalty which allowed him to return to his wife, who is now 17.
Chief Justice Riley sentenced him in the Alice Springs sittings of the Supreme Court to nine months in jail suspending it immediately. The maximum sentence for having sex with an underage person is 16 years in prison.
Upon sentencing the man Chief Justice Riley said it was "not a case of an older predator taking advantage of a young girl". "You are in a relationship with her. The relationship existed before the birth of the child and continues until today."
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.