This is a post by Sarah Phillimore
It has certainly been a busy year. 2019 made me think again and hard about some of my previously unchallenged assumptions – that the people I met on this road were invariably to be trusted to fight the good fight. I have seen instead increasing polarisation and promotion of narrative over substance. I have seen examples of cowardice and dishonesty from those I previously admired that has made me gasp.
But it is always better to know. I have certainly dialled down my ‘crusading’ given my realisation of just how tricky things are out there. I will remain very interested in what the 3 month ‘Inquiry’ into the FJS can possibly achieve, particularly given the ‘capture’ of many campaigning groups by people I know to be criminal and dangerous.
I remain sceptical that journalists have the ability or even the will to report on the FJS accurately or responsibly. While I was very pleased to be part of the appeal that lead to new October guidance on Reporting in the Family Courts, this may yet be a phyrric victory if journalists cannot be persuaded to move away from the salacious headline over accurate and fair reporting.
But the aim of the CPR is not to provide a platform for me to moan about things, although I will happily admit to hijacking it on a few occasions to do exactly that.
The aim of this site has always been to provide accurate and useful information for everyone in the child protection system – parents, lawyers, social workers etc. So its interesting to look at what posts were popular this year.
What did the audience want?
In 2018 the three most popular posts, with not much to divide them, were
- the post on mental health and care proceedings,
- reporting domestic violence and
- discussion about attachment theory.
interestingly, the post about section 20 of the Children Act 1989 – which in previous years had vied with the post about mental health as the most popular, had slumped to 4th place – which I hope reflects the growing unease and greater knowledge about the use and misuse of section 20.
So what was the picture in 2019?
This is – for me – pretty interesting. Its the first time since the site’s inception in 2014 that the post on mental health in care proceedings has been knocked from the top spot – to be replaced with ‘The Social Worker is Out to Get Me – Common concerns we hear from parents’ . In 2019 that post had gathered about 10K new views. I can only speculate why that is but guess that it may be a reflection of the growing awareness of ‘fake news’ and manipulation of social media. It’s interesting to note that all Top 3 posts are now from the ‘Mythbusting’ menu of the website.
The post meanwhile that continues to provoke the angriest comments was from June 2018 where I attempted to break down an argument that mothers abused children more than fathers – I concluded that it was pretty even but fathers just pipped the mothers at the post. The degree of consistent abuse and vitriol I have received from this post indicates that it is a very sensitive area and those with a stake in it often express themselves in very worryingly aggressive tones.
The massive dip in users in November 2019 is explained by a switch to a different host and the site went off line for 2 days.
Hopes for 2020
In 2019 the site had 390,871 users, the vast majority – 87% – new users coming from organic google searches. This is an increase from 2017 at 340,024 but a decrease from 2018 when this number was 437,338.
Again, I can only guess at the reason for this dip. It may be due to Twitter now refusing to publish anything with a link to this site; this censorship began around April 2019 and has never been explained by Twitter, despite frequent efforts to contact it. The noticeable ‘dip’ in users around that time as can be seen above, supports that view.
It may also be that other and better sources of information are spreading and available.
I really hope its the latter. As I keep saying – either we simplify our laws and our procedures or we provide better support for those who have no choice but to go through the system. Once the analytics show me that no one is reading anymore, then I will close down the site.
But for now, I think the need is still there. Let’s see what 2020 brings now we can finally focus on something other than Brexit. One thing I hope to see in CPR’s future is its own podcast!
A Happy New Year to all my readers.