Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Children in broken homes are three times more likely to run away

"Broken" homes are now extremely common so this is not terribly informative. Which type of broken home yields the runaways? Low IQ or psychiatrically abnormal homes would be my first bet

Children who come from broken homes are three times as likely to run away as those who have a stable background, a major study said yesterday. The report, for the Children’s Society, found one in five youngsters who had experienced conflict at home ran away in the last 12 months. The risk bore no relation to whether the child came from a poor or wealthy background.

The findings are likely to intensify the debate over marriage and its status that continues to nag at David Cameron and Coalition ministers.

Married parents are far less likely to break up than those who live in cohabiting relationships, and research has again and again proved that their children are more likely to enjoy better health and succeed at school.

The report was based on interviews with 7,300 teenagers aged between 14 and 16 in schools across England. Around 84,000 children run away from home each year.

It said: ‘Children are equally likely to run away in all types of geographical areas – whether urban or rural; deprived or more prosperous. ‘The quality of family relationships is more important than economic factors – children who had recently run away reported a less positive relationship with parents and higher levels of family conflict. ‘One in five children living in these types of situations had run away in the past 12 months.’

It added: ‘Children living with both birth parents have the lowest rates of running away…Children who have experienced family change and conflict over the past year are three times as likely to run away as those who have not.’

The charity has spent 12 years examining the motives of children who run away from home. This is the first of its surveys to identify the overwhelming importance of family break-up.

Its chief executive, Bob Reitemeier, said: ‘We have shown that arguments and other family conflict play a massive part in a child’s decision to run. ‘Poor quality family relationships and neglectful parenting are making children and young people feel helpless.’ According to the survey, 70,000 children aged between 14 and 16 run away from home each year, but ‘substantial numbers’ of younger children also flee.

It said that more than a quarter are likely to have ‘harmful or risky’ experiences. One in nine of the runaways said they had been hurt or harmed while on the run from home, foster care or a children’s home, and one in six said they had slept rough or stayed with someone they had just met. One in eight said that they had stolen while away and one in 11 said they had begged.

Seven out of 10 were not reported missing to the police after they ran away. Mr Reitemeier called for ministers, police, schools and social workers to develop a ‘safety net’ to try to lessen the risks for runaways.

He said: ‘We are deeply concerned that tens of thousands of children are still running from home or care. Huge numbers are putting themselves in very dangerous situations. ‘One child in this situation is one child too many. Some children are so desperate that they steal, turn to drugs or alcohol or are abused by adults who groom them. ‘Too often they are alone and desperate for help.’


Giving jobs to women based purely on their sex is bad for society

The liberal intelligentsia is enjoying another of its occasional, mad bursts of self-flagellation. Its bien pensants, many of them white, middle-class and allegedly male, are horrified that Parliament is mainly, er, white, middle-class and of the trouser tendency.

The Institute for Government, a silo of Guardianista gibberish, produced some damn-fool report yesterday which demanded remedies to this allegedly atrocious state of affairs.

It wanted, among other things, means-tested bursaries for approved minority candidates in major political parties. It wanted state funding for postal primary elections of candidates who are non-white, non-male and non-middle class.

In addition to these Stalinist suggestions it said that the pro-minority skew should begin with elections to the proposed new police commissioner and mayoral posts. You want a white, well-educated man for your police commissioner? Bad luck. The Institute for Government has found someone more ‘acceptable’ for the job.

One term for this sort of thing is ‘tokenism’ (it certainly ain’t ‘democracy’). Its proponents prefer to talk of ‘affirmative action’ or ‘reserved political positions’, both expressions being typically opaque and dishonest, as is so much of the language used by today’s political scientists and think-tank wonks.

One person’s ‘outrageous favouritism’ is another’s ‘encouragement for under-represented sections of the community’.

One reason for the alienation of minorities and working-class people from parliamentary politics is the complex, politically-correct language used by the likes of the Institute for Government and other ‘approved’ outlets of multi- cultural opinion.

Whatever you call it, the idea of blocking the progress of the majority to some important public positions — which is, inevitably, what proposals such as those from the Institute for Government would achieve — is immoral, self-defeating and dangerous. It is also, I suspect, out of date.

With flames licking under the citadel doors of Western Europe and its bloated ‘rights’ culture, the last thing taxpayers are likely to want their politicians to spend their precious money on is yet more social engineering to fiddle with the gender, race and class balance in the House of Commons. But let argument be joined, all the same.

The Labour Party has for some time now had all-female shortlists in some of its parliamentary candidate selections, and has recently toyed with the idea, as has Commons Speaker John Bercow, of all-black shortlists.

I could point out that Jacqui Smith, arguably the worst Home Secretary of all time, was selected from an all-woman shortlist and at that point say: ‘No further questions, m’lud.’ But that would be a cheap shot and you know what a model of sportspersonship I am.

I could point out that the Commons which gathered after the general election of 1997 was the first to see significant numbers of all-women shortlist MPs. They were labelled ‘Blair’s Babes’.

Were they a success? Hardly. Parliament became lamentably toadyish and ineffectual. This was nothing to do, per se, with the gender of so many of its occupants. It was something deeper than that.
MPs who have been chosen off a restrictive shortlist cannot be said truthfully to have got to Westminster by merit in complete and open competition. They have not taken on all available rivals.

This is a point often made by that stonking former parliamentarian Miss Ann Widdecombe. She was chosen in an open selection contest against men (poor wretches, they never stood a chance). She duly spoke in the Commons chamber with all the brisk certitude of one who holds an undisputed mandate.

Shortlist MPs may have certain qualities, but they are bound to lack recognition as true meritocrats and they therefore lack authenticity and may not have complete confidence in their own judgments. They are products of favouritism and that is exactly how Blair’s Babes behaved, being craven before the system to which they owed their existence.

The shortlist is an instrument of patronage. That is why the Establishment Left and, troublingly, some of the sillier modernisers in David Cameron’s Conservative Party, so very much approve of the idea. They see shortlists as a way of increasing their control of the system.

It is inexplicable that a Speaker of the House of Commons should have anything to do with such gerrymandering of representative democracy. Speaker Bercow’s support for minority shortlists betrays him at his worst.

But Parliament is not the only place where the argument for ‘more women’ or ‘more minorities’ is being heard. One hears it said of TV and radio presenters. Jane Garvey, of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, was droning away about it the other day. Perhaps she is fishing for more work.

Given how long women have been a prominent force in journalism, it seems surprising that we do not have a few more hard-boiled memsahibs on the box alongside carbon-dated men such as John Simpson, John Humphrys and the remarkable Sir David Attenborough.

One of my favourite radio essayists is the veteran Katharine Whitehorn, who sounds like W.H. Auden. Maybe it is a depth-of-tone thing, or maybe, in TV, it is an inclination of society to be more severe in judging ladies’ looks.

Those who argue for positive discrimination always say they want to have society reflected. But what happens if the society they want to reflect does not actually want some Margaret Beckett lookalike presenting the Six O’Clock News? Houston, we have a prab-lem.

Our judiciary has long been semi-paralysed by self-criticism in this regard, senior judges twisting their limbs in agony that there are not more black, minority, ethnic, or female barristers.

Only yesterday Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury said he wanted to use the new Equality Act to favour women and ethnic minority candidates when appointing judges.

Lady Hale, the only female member of the Supreme Court (or ‘Law Lords’ as they used to be called before being put in the Europeanist foodmixer), was also at it the other day. Calling for more women at the top of the legal world, she said: ‘It would be nice to have some company. It would be nice for there to be a critical mass of three or four women because then it is not something that anybody is going to comment on.’

As it happens, virtually the only person ‘commenting on’ it at present is Lady Hale, a beady-eyed old cabbage who has long played the token-woman card with shrewd aplomb. And if she wants some female company, can she not talk to her cleaner? Or is her cleaner a man?

Should members of the Supreme Court really be chosen in part because they are female or because they belong to some officially- sanctioned subset of society (to be granted approved status, perhaps, by the male, white, middle-class poohbahs of the Institute for Government)?

Should there be, say, only one Jewish member of the Supreme Court? Given the large number of brilliant Jewish lawyers in London, that may rob us of some excellent candidates. Any attempt to block their appointment would surely lead to accusations of anti-Semitism. Oh no!

Should there always be, for the sake of argument, one Muslim member of the Supreme Court? Should that be a Sunni or a Shia? Yikes, perhaps they should toss a coin to decide who gets it.

And should we have at least one Supreme Court chap who is gay? The lesbians may need to be given a turn every third time, or however so often is required in order to ‘reflect’ the number of homosexual men and women there happen allegedly to be in the country at that time.

These questions may be absurd, and of course they are intended to be that, but are they really so illogical when you start to play around with the principle of appointment on merit?

Militant egalitarians insist that all humans (I nearly said ‘men’) are equal. I do not happen to believe this. My view is that all humans are different. But basically the argument is that men and women should be treated equally.

The electorate, they are saying, should be blind to gender. At which point the positive-discrimination brigade do a volte-face and say equality can be achieved only by inequality, with one group or other being granted special favours.

As ever, state-imposed egalitarianism results in less real equality and in a system of chilling orthodoxy of which Chairman Mao himself would have been proud.


British council accused of a 'staggering invasion of privacy' as it plans to record EVERY conversation that takes place in taxi cabs

This could be troubling but if the safeguards are as announced it would seem to be beneficial on balance. As ethical standards decline we may have to ramp up the fear of getting caught

Cab drivers and their passengers are to be spied on during journeys in what has been denounced as a ‘a staggering invasion of privacy’. CCTV cameras are to be fitted in 650 taxis – costing the taxpayer £260,000 – to monitor drivers throughout their shift and record the conversations of passengers.

The cameras will begin recording sound and vision from the moment the ignition is turned on and remain on for 30 minutes after the engine has stopped running.

The footage gathered will be kept for 28 days on a CCTV hard-drive in case it is needed following, for example, an attack on the driver. It will cost Oxford City Council taxpayers £400 to fit each of the 107 black cabs and 545 private hire vehicles in the city with the CCTV system.

The fact that recordings will be encrypted and only accessible in the event of a police investigation are added safeguards, a council spokesman insisted.

Nick Pickles, the campaign group's director, said: ‘This is a staggering invasion of privacy, being done with no evidence, no consultation and a total disregard for civil liberties. ‘Big Brother now has big ears, and they are eavesdropping on your conversations with absolutely no justification.’ He added: ‘Given that one rail route to Witney [David Cameron's constituency] is through Oxford, we'll be letting the Prime Minister know that his staff might want to avoid using Oxford cabs.’

A spokeswoman for Oxford City Council said video and audio would run all the time in the cabs but officials will only be allowed to view the material if there has been a complaint.

The authority said complaints against both taxi drivers and passengers had increased year on year and without CCTV the allegations 'amount to one persons word against the other'. Complaints included overcharging, sexual assaults and attacks on drivers.

The spokeswoman added: ‘Oxford City Council considers that so long as clear notices are provided in vehicles which inform passengers that video and audio recording may be taking place, the risk of intrusion is acceptable compared to the public safety benefits.

‘In any event, the level of privacy reasonably to be expected in a licensed vehicle is far lower than that expected in the privacy of one’s home or own car.’ She added that the footage will not be routinely viewed, but will be kept for 28 days on a CCTV hard-drive in case it is needed following a specific incident.

A spokeswoman for the Information Commissioner's Office said it is not normally justified to use CCTV to record conversations between members of the public as 'it is highly intrusive'. But she added that council applications to install cameras in cabs are likely to be acceptable because of the number of crimes being committed in taxis.

An ICO spokeswoman said: ‘Licensing authorities must take account of people's right to privacy when deciding whether to impose CCTV as a licence condition for taxi drivers.

‘As well as assessing the impact on privacy, we have accepted they [councils] can take into account factors such as the likelihood of crimes being committed against drivers and passengers; the vulnerable one-to-one situation; the fact that taxis are travelling all over the area at different times of day; and CCTV can protect both the driver and passengers.’

All taxis licensed for the first time by Oxford City Council must have the equipment installed from April 6 next year. Cabs which are already registered will have until April 2015 to get the camera fitted, the council said.


I'll get powers back from the EU, says Cameron: Prime Minister's vow to rebellious MPs in Lord Mayor's speech

David Cameron last night said the EU was ‘in peril’ and described the debt crisis as an ‘opportunity’ to claw back powers for Britain. After being rocked by a Tory MP rebellion over Britain’s future in the EU, the Prime Minister cast himself as a ‘sceptic’, attacking ‘grand plans and utopian visions’ and vowing to ‘refashion the EU so it better serves this nation’s interests’. He accused the EU of being out of touch and attacked its ‘pointless interference, rules and regulations’.

His remarks are diametrically at odds with those of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called yesterday for the EU to focus on building a ‘political union’ as she warned the continent faced its biggest crisis since the Second World War.

She said: ‘The task of our generation is to complete economic and monetary union, and build political union in Europe, step by step. That does not mean less Europe, it means more Europe. If the euro fails, then Europe will fail.’

But as Mr Cameron prepared to start a whistlestop tour of European capitals, he said EU countries had ‘indulged in debt and overspending and looked uncertain or worse when confronted with the consequences’.

Addressing the annual Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London, the Prime Minister insisted leaving the EU would not be in Britain’s interest, with European countries accounting for half of our trade. But he said he wanted an organisation ‘with the flexibility of a network, not the rigidity of a bloc’.

Italy was forced to pay an effective interest rate of 6.29 per cent as it sold government bonds yesterday to fund its vast national debt of £1.6trillion. The yield on Spain’s government bonds crept above 6 per cent – almost three times that of the UK, which is increasingly being seen as a safe haven by international investors.

Mr Cameron, who has been under pressure from his party to set out a timetable for repatriating powers from Brussels and seeking approval for a looser relationship in a referendum, suggested that instead less should be done at a European level.

‘The EU’s achievements are dramatically overshadowed by its problems,’ he said. ‘It’s not just the crisis in the eurozone – urgent and all-consuming though that is. ‘It’s how out of touch the EU has become when its institutions are demanding budget increases while Europe’s citizens tighten their belts. It’s the pointless interference, rules and regulations that stifle growth, not unleash it.’

His remarks will be seen as an attempt to appease his party’s eurosceptics.

London Mayor Boris Johnson yesterday became the most senior Tory to question the Government’s willingness to boost the resources of the International Monetary Fund, which acts as the world’s global economic emergency service. ‘British taxpayers are going to be shelling out ever more in bailout dosh, much of which will ultimately go to banks and bankers’ bonuses,’ he protested.

Suggesting he would use treaty negotiations to try to repatriate powers for the UK, Mr Cameron added: ‘Change brings opportunities, an opportunity to begin to refashion the EU so it better serves this nation’s interests and the interests of its other 26 nations too. ‘An opportunity, in Britain’s case, for powers to ebb back instead of flow away, and for the European Union to focus on what really matters. ‘That is the kind of fundamental reform I yearn for, and I am determined to do everything possible to deliver it.’



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.


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