Families who need support and the language of ‘casual disrespect’



Thanks for this guest post from a parent who is concerned about the priorities for those making  high-level decisions about funding around healthcare, and the impact this may have on families who need support in the age of austerity. She also raises important questions about the language we use; for example how does it feel to be called a ‘challenging family’ in the context of support that might be offered? Her central point is stark – the only fixed point in a shifting landscape of support provision is to see the families who need it as ‘incompetent’ and requiring ‘intervention’. 

I had a strange day recently. I left work at lunchtime to attend a NHS Transforming Care meeting where transfer of funds ( ‘dowries’ ) from the NHS, accompanying people with learning disabilities transferred from secure accommodation to homes within the local community arranged by and paid for by local area Clinical Commissioning Groups, was discussed.

There were a number of ‘Experts by Experience’ present. One tabled a list of acronyms that he asked not be used during the meeting. This list included ‘spec. com’ (short for ‘Specialised Commissioning’). He also asked that those speaking refer to ‘people’ not ‘patients’. His request was assented to by all before the meeting started.

During the meeting as people around the table made presentations, a person from NHS Specialised Commissioning repeatedly referred to ‘spec. com’ and ‘patients’ throughout his presentation. The Transforming Care programme will succeed or fail in large part depending on whether funding follows people. If I understood the presentation correctly, it appears that except in very limited circumstances it won’t. It is hard to know how to react to this in the context of a meeting when none of the decision-makers are present.

It seems as though the impact of the Winterbourne View scandal is fading and there are new priorities for those making high-level funding decisions around healthcare. I know that for many local Clinical Commissioning Group commissioners charged with delivering the Transforming Care programme, who will have to compete for funding at a local level to deliver a programme that will incur considerable additional costs for local areas if delivered, it is very difficult to accept. For people with learning disabilities in long stay institutions (over five years) and for people whose cause of death can be listed as ‘Leaning Disability’ on their death certificate when they die of constipation it will be felt in ways, you and I cannot even begin to imagine.

What hope to deliver a programme for systemic change as complex as the Transforming Care one is, if professionals cannot even keep to rules they agreed to about the use of language that respects the wishes of those they hope to help?

It really was a strange day because I then went on to another meeting where the great and the good and the well-intentioned were listening to care experienced young people sharing their thoughts about the system they spent many of their childhood years within, some with no clear idea why or where their siblings that had been adopted, were.

Social workers also spoke about being asked to ‘do much more with much less’ and how it was impossible to deliver a service where everything from what services are provided by what agency to the social work workforce itself is in flux. Teachers also reported that they were now doing social work in schools, well beyond their capability and training. It was summed up as ‘Challenging Families were being passed between services without getting the early intervention they needed’.

The language of ‘casual disrespect’

I have to say this was a depressingly familiar story to me, so again I chose to reflect on language. Would anyone have thought it OK to refer to my family in a one-to-one conversation with me as a ‘challenging family’ needing ‘Intervention’ and if most would not, then why is it OK to refer families like mine, in this casually disrespectful way? Is it OK because parents of children in need of services are not meant to be listening into this intense conversation or is it that our opinions just do not matter or that we are not expected to have anything of value to contribute unlike the great and the good and the well-intentioned? Or is it that people are afraid of what we might say? Are we that much of a challenge and to whom and what exactly? The only fixed point in this shifting landscape of service provision seems to be to regard families in need of services as, at best, incompetent and in need of an ‘intervention’.

If I’ve understood correctly then what chance do families ( those groups of people – not systems – that in normal circumstances, nurture children and prepare them well for adulthood because of bonds of love ) have of ever being heard when asking for help, not intervention, when we ask for it for ourselves or our children and indeed what chance have the great and the good and the well-intentioned of improving the life chances of young people like my son, without respectful engagement with us, their family members?

71 thoughts on “Families who need support and the language of ‘casual disrespect’

  1. Sam

    We are the other people, we ought to behave in the way that the great and the good expect from us. My Mum went through an exercise at work once, where people had to guess at each others habits. Mum has a strong regional accent and she thinks because of this the person guessing classed her as a certain type of person. She supposedly read the Sun, her favourite food was fish and chips and she had between four and five children. All completely wrong.
    There is so much conscious and unconscious bias in society which also transfers to the system; I would say it would amount to discrimination.
    As for the care experienced children , I am afraid theirs would not be isolated experiences. Even more troubling is a number would believe it was their fault they were seperated from their siblings.

  2. looked_after_child

    I’ve never watched the Jeremy Kyle Show..that must be my mistake?
    I could have learned so much about how I live apparently..the great and the good and the well-intentioned, clearly do and have figured it all out…

      1. looked_after_child

        Lets see..maybe there is an expert someone on the books, paid for by the page, who could write a report on how ‘deranged’ I am? ‘Something’ seems quite ‘deranged’ to me too although who cares what I think?

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      My view is that the problem is that the majority of parents in child protection proceedings have a multiplicity of problems, circling round issues of poverty, drug addiction, violence, sexual abuse etc. So ‘professionals’ develop a particular way of dealing with them, which – if they are not careful and continually checking themselves – slides into ‘othering’ these parents as something less than human or the lazy architects of their own misery (Even though many of these parents were in care as children themselves)

      So when professionals meet a parent who is educated, can speak ‘nicely’ and has clear decided views of their own, this is of course a very different set of circumstances and very challenging for many professionals. I have seen it myself with the medical profession. I had cancer in 2013 so when my mum was dying in 2014 I had already picked up quite a lot of vocabulary and some superficial knowledge about treatment and prognosis. I had some very interesting exchanges with Senior Registrars, one of whom asked me if I was a doctor. No, but I was using their language back at them and it caused an immediate and obvious shift in our dynamic.

      The experience of the Kitzinger sisters in trying to get doctors to understand the wishes of their sister Polly after she suffered massive brain injury following an accident, is another illustration. They were labelled difficult and obsessive.

      Challenge is difficult for us all. I can understand why many professionals can’t cope well with it, but I can also understand that many parents are overwhelmed by grief, frustration, tiredness and are not sometimes able to communicate in a ‘reasonable’ way. So round and round we go and every one retreats and blames the other. That’s because its the easiest response, rather than check your own behaviour or remind yourself of the balance of power in the professional/parent relationships.

      1. looked_after_child

        This is all true Sarah BUT it seems to me that there are so many similarities in the way people who lived in Grenfell/live in social housing were/are viewed by LB Westminster – there is a culture of disrespect by those responsible for provision of services to families, that makes it OK, even ‘good’ to view people in this way, because it supports the world-view of those making decisions.
        Some of the children’s charities and service providers play along with this, because it is the only way to be invited to the table and in a position to shape the agenda. This is collusion of sorts. Challenge is a good thing but you have to have maturity to be able to give and take it. It is a two-way thing and should’ent be a problem just some good ground rules.

        Changing the subject a bit, there is a perfect storm when you combine what is happening to families generally with what is happening with healthcare funding.
        See this :-

        It seems as though policymakers have given up on anything with the word ‘social’ in it. Social justice, social responsibility – even society itself has been jettissoned.

        There is no discourse between policy-makers and people – just ugly diktats by people with ugly attitudes to anyone who is not like them.

        1. looked_after_child

          ..and Social Work with families itself has been re-purposed as something entirely different to what it says on the tin and I do not hold social workers responsible for that per se.

          1. looked_after_child

            I think it is coming to the point that professionals have to ask themselves which side they are on – The cosy insiderer side or the bleak outsider side – what is happening on the ground is often horrible and horrifying.

          2. looked_after_child

            Forgot about social engineering though – that seems alive and well in the form of… – re-home the babies, farm out the kids, lock up the teens , magic therapy for all, rights for no-one – this is called child protection, not child welfare for obvious reasons.

      2. Angelo Granda

        Sarah, I agree and the Children’s Act recognises the problem described in your first paragraph. Hence the strict working together frameworks laid down and the requirement that parents are put in touch with an advocate who can mediate in their own language and use professional parlance when addressing SW’s etc. The problem was anticipated. The conduct of each case must be checked scrupulously.
        Whenever a legal guideline is not implemented , there is always an effect and a consequent ripple effect which can lead to disproportionate,unsafe decisions.
        Please note that in London only ,apparently, the FRG does provide advocacy free to families but it depends on the particular Local Authority funding the intervention. It would be a bold move were every LA nationwide obliged to fund FRG advocacy services.

  3. Angelo Granda

    I agree with you, Sam.Bias and discrimination ( conscious or not) which when held by professionals in a position of power ( the authorities) leads to the degradation and inhumane treatment, emotional disturbance,mental torture and physical restraint etc. of the victims.
    I believe article 3 (ECHR) is contravened and,like you, I think it happens regularly.
    Thousands of citizens are affected.
    Where were their lawyers?

  4. looked_after_child

    “Gillies, Edwards, and Horsley (2017) build a powerful case for understanding contemporary policy as something of a perfect storm. The coming together of a social investment policy framework, brain science and corporate interest has generated and justified an unprecedented growth in early intervention programmes targeted at impoverished mothers. The racist, classed and sexist implications of this approach have gone largely unexamined:”

  5. looked_after_child

    State-sponsored processes of surveillance and behaviour management interventions take the place of a politics of social rights and economic redistribution: poverty in this analysis isn’t caused by systemic inequality – it is caused by the dangerous poor and their hapless parenting. Gillies, Edwards, and Horsley argue that a resurgence of child-rescue-driven practice in what might be described as late-neoliberal times amounts to the state being mobilised on behalf of the market to ‘secure the production of clear thinking, flexible, self-directed brains able to withstand the pressures of a global competitive system’ (p.38). This is the neoliberal take on social justice if you like.

  6. looked_after_child

    It is really important to challenge this – no matter who you are. There is no ‘them and us’ – there is only ‘us’ – slicing and dicing people in need of services into good and bad, deserving and undeserving, young and old, adopted and in care, rich and poor and then throwing a bone in the direction of the most vocal (adoptive parents?) is never meant to deliver anything to people who just do not matter to policymakers.

  7. Angelo Granda

    As far as child protection is concerned , in my view , put simply the problem has always been false ideology. Whether it is neo-liberal, old liberal ,fascist, Marxist, Saddam Hussain party or Monster Raving Looney, it is illegal and against the Human Rights Act to interfere with the lives of citizens disproportionately , without a fair hearing and unlawful to discriminate for reasons of poverty, ethnicity, antecedents or whatever.
    It is unlawful under the law in place right now to take children from natural parents for adoption, fostering ,residential homes etc. unless everything contradictory to removal has been fully considered and it is found that the circumstances are so dire that nothing else will do! No doubt about it ,permanent removal is inhumanity to children and causes devastation and both mental and physical distress as well as degradation. The Law makers and the High Court are adamant that removal is never in the paramount interests of a child’s welfare if it can be avoided. It is a monolithic myth that they are taken into the care system in their best interests. It is only really healthy and profitable for those responsible for organising the care.
    The Local Authorities often therefore have to create a situation using any number of dodgy lawyers and legal arguments that the situation is very, very dire. It’s the only way to procure children under the law. To do it, they make wildly untrue statements, assessments, false allegations and so on but by disguising them as fact. When parents protest which it is planned they will , it is said they do not acknowledge professional concerns, are in denial ,over-defensive and that they are not likely to change and work with the professionals in time-scales .It may be claimed they are in the precontemplative stage etc.etc.
    The Law says it is wrong but they continue to get away with it because of inferior lower courts and the lack of access to justice via appeal due mainly to the problem with funding .
    It is a legal problem we face not a political one. Whether you vote tory or labour ,these awful authorities will still abuse the system as they have done for centuries.

    P.S. Another tactic used to fake dire circumstances is to somehow establish mothers have some sort of depression, polar disorder or that they use drugs or drink. They can then claim falsely that treatments are not available in time-scales relevant to children. Rubbish but they get away with it.

    The solution is for the system to ensure fair hearings .

  8. Angelo Granda

    As far as child-protection is concerned, in my view, to put it quite simply the problem has always been false ideology. Whether it is neo-liberal, old liberal, fascist, marxist, right-wing, left or monster raving looney, it is illegal and against the Human Rights Act to interfere with the lives of citizens disproportionately, without a fair hearing; unlawful to discriminate for reasons of poverty, ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture, religious denomination, antecedents or whatever.

    It is unlawful under the law in place right now ( Children’s Acty) to take children and permanently liquidate families unless every possibility contra-indicative to removal has been fully examined, reasons given for their rejection and it is found that the circumstances are so dire that there is no alternative .
    No doubt about it, liquidation is humanity to children and causes devastation ,mental and physical distress as well as degradation.
    The law-makers and the High Court are adamant that removal is never in the paramount interests of a child’s welfare if it can be avoided. It is a monolithic myth that they are taken into the care-system in their best interests also illegal, in my opinion. It is only really healthy and profitable for all those responsible for organising the care-system.

    The Local Authorities, therefore ,have to create a situation using any number of dodgy lawyers in their employ and persuade the Court with legal arguments that the circumstances appear very, very dire. It’s the only way they can procure enough children to fulfil their aims under the law. To do it, they make wildly untrue statements and declarations , false allegations and so on under oath whilst disguising them as fact. When parents protest as it is planned they will, it is reported they will not acknowledge professional concerns, are in denial, over defensive ,unlikely to work with professionals and unlikely to change. It may be claimed they are at the pre-contemplative stage etc. etc.
    The law says it is wrong but they continue to get away with it because of the inferior, civil, lower courts and the lack of access to justice via appeal due mainly to the problem with funding.
    It is a legal problem we face not a political one. Whether we vote Tory or Labour, these awful authorities will still abuse the system as they have done for centuries.

    P.S. Another tactic used regularly to fake the direst circumstances is to somehow establish an argument that Mums have some degree of depression, polar disorder. personality defect ,are suicidal or that they have used drugs or alcohol. They can then claim falsely that treatments are not available in time-scales relevant to the children, Rubbish but they get away with it.

    The solution is for the system to ensure fair hearings and stop the abuses!

    1. HelenSparkles

      This is totally inaccurate but as it is the same thing you have been saying for years, I’m not responding again.

      Could you just clarify why you think in your world of conspiracy, that any LA wants to procure children?

      1. Angelo Granda

        Helen,if readers will forgive me for saying so, your comment smacks me as ‘ the language of casual disrespect’ !

      2. Angelo Granda

        Any readers who object or aren’t happy with my use of the word ‘procure’ please take note. I make no apology. Procure is generally a legal term which I selected in preference to ‘child-stealing’ in the nasty Chitty- Chitty Bang-Bang sense, or taking unlawfully which I had used previously. I felt it was a less pejorative term thus would be more amenable to our esteemed moderator.
        In my dictionary ,procure means to obtain, acquire or secure the management of the affairs of a subject.
        Procuring ,procurement or procurating by legaI procurators is not and has never been conspiracy in my book and the suggestion I am in a ‘world of conspiracy’ is just darn right insulting .
        To clarify why I think the LA wants to procure children.
        a) the ‘culture’ of sex-abuse of innocent children which has been common to many Social Services departments over at least the last 80 years to my knowledge. See previous comments on this resort to Operation Cleopatra and more recent confessions and comprehensive apologies made by departments in the Channel Islands, Rotherham and other places including Australia and Canada. It is known that in Rochdale thousands of children in care were neglected and exploited both for profit and self-gratification by M.P’s and others in positions of authority also that many teenage girls were put into circulation outside their residential homes as virtual prostitutes. the offences were covered -up for years , complaints procedures corruptly flouted and so on. Sexual exploitation is one reason why people occupying positions of power might want to flout procedures and procure children for the care system.
        b) For reasons of financial prudence. Because it is easier and preferable for LA’s to take children into care than keep families together. This is a general complaint. As I’ve said recently ,money is at the root of most abuses of power.

        Please readers don’t fall for the notion that Child Protection Professionals procure children only for well-meaning ,legitimate aims and motives. They often act maliciously and they would do so with anyone, you too! Don’t let good-heartedness, empathy towards the C.S. ( which I share) or your tender ,unsullied friends who have never,ever seen them at work persuade you to fall for it. There are many soft-hearted folk who I know of who don’t like to have their feelings ruffled and when you tell them truths which they don’t like, it shocks them. They will say it is shocking but no matter how true it is ,they stop their ears and say or cry out,’Oh, that is too horrible! We can’t believe that! They say the truth. They can’t believe it because they WON’T believe it.
        Even now, after so many revelations, convictions and apologies, there are millions of people in Britain who are such born, drivelling ‘WON’T BELIEVERS’ that they still think the LA’s only act illegitimately and take the wrong children occasionally ,by mistake but I am fairly certain that the malice within the system is such as they will attack not only vulnerable families but each other. Whistle blowers and well-meaning angels who join the payroll are castigated and sacked or demoted .They do it not for spite but for pleasure. Some awful people like to belittle and marginalise the good social workers and lawyers. Likewise ,they prefer to attack innocent families than any other.
        The turning of blind eyes, minimising of issues and nimbyism is behaviour about which we should all be appalled. To suggest that we who bring these revelations to the CPR comments columns have invented our own narratives is just scurrilous.
        All comments welcome including disagreements and differences but, readers please don’t be too soft on the system. Accept the truth. Let us have our own ‘Weinstein’ moment.

        1. Angelo Granda

          There were more reports in the media yesterday emanating from the Public Inquiry currently in progress. Social Services malpractice, lies to children and institutional child-abuse etc. etc.
          What a shame there is such a dearth of professionals able or willing to come on to this resource and comment. What I have written about ‘WON’T BELIEVERS’ above is true.
          When the system professionals and the authorities remain silent and don’t respond to unpopular TRUTHS, they prove the wisdom of the well-known tenet, silence is the best defence! The cutting edge of the truth, no matter how awful and incriminating it is against the authorities and professionals themselves , is nebulised by silence and no comment.
          All comments welcome.

          1. Angelo Granda

            Might I add that if any professional who, after long years experience of the system, claims that they have not met up with any of the institutional abuse now exposed as real, then this can only confirm the views of many parents which is that the guilty professionals contrive to achieve their illegitimate,criminal aims behind closed doors, in secret, hidden from view or whatever we want to call it. The definition of conspiracy. Were they to act openly , you would have spotted it over the years and objected accordingly.

            No conspiracy there at least?

          2. Angelo Granda

            More revelations, confessions and apologies yesterday this time about widespread abuse and LA neglect and malpractice in the Telford area.

          3. HelenSparkles

            The stats for Telford are not accurate, what we know about levels of abuse exceeds those numbers, and if anyone is under the impression that there are areas which are ‘hotspots’ they are deluded. I also struggle with the differential between CSE and CSA. They are both child sexual abuse, once that is out of the way, it is easier to identify that most victims are not groomed by gangs but white British men. There are those who are more vulnerable to being groomed, but like domestic abuse, it can happen to anyone. Far more important that we identify the men who somehow have evolved into people who think having sex with children is ok, than we suppose all is limited to gangs, because the latter is just the easier image to process.

  9. looked_after_child

    I was recently made aware of this material prepared by adoptive parents. It portrays an very ugly picture that all parents of children who enter Care are neglectful and abusive.


    I spoke to the chair of an adopters and special guardianship group about it afterwards .She was pretty horrified and would have preferred a film that showed the results of abuse and its impact on a child and family. ( This is verifiable unlike “virtual reality”)

    The reality is that children enter Care for lots of reasons often to do with poverty and or illness and the lack of resources to address these.

    False narratives s just create distrust. Why are there no checks and balances to prevent this happening?

    1. HelenSparkles

      Children do enter care for all sorts of reasons, including abuse, and risks that adults pose to them. It isn’t a false narrative, it is just one facet of the narrative. One group who have decided to focus on their area of interest and need, in order to develop something that might be more helpful than sitting in a room looking at powerpoint slides. It doesn’t mean ALL children who enter care are abused as far as I can see, just tells us something about the impact for those who are, and some people are visual learners. I suggest your group concentrates on the area of your interest and needs, i.e. where other factors lead to children being accommodated by the LA. I am glad that your experience is not of children who have been abused, but please don’t negate their narrative and lived experience, whilst pursuing your own.

      1. looked_after_child

        I’ve seen too much of this Helen and I’ve checked with a parent to a young person who is physically abused. For me this stuff is akin to creationism – stick to the facts ALWAYS – conjecture just shifts over into prejudice too easily. Any carer watching this stuff is very unlikely to understanding what shared PR means

          1. HelenSparkles

            This is preparing carers for looking after children who have experienced trauma and abuse.

            Carers are often (just because you would be) naive about the impact of trauma and about.

            It isn’t a prediction, it is just training about what the impact can be. It is also known that some children are (for whatever reason) more resilient and some children just survive abuse and trauma in a way that doesn’t have an impact. It is complex and multifaceted and good that carers are prepared to understand those children who may just not be able to name their emotions.

            I don’t know how many people who have been abused that you have spoken to, but I suspect I have spoken to more, and all of them say they wished they had carers who really understood their emotional landscape.

          2. HelenSparkles

            BTW when I said just survive – there was no minimisation there, just acknowledgement that children are different.

            For e.g. a boy I know was in care and his mother drank buckets of vodka during her pregnancy. He doesn’t have FAS. The more we know the less we know sometimes.

          3. looked_after_child

            Thanks Helen
            I have heard looked after children speak about their carers in the most positive terms imaginable – about love and care given and received. I do not think carers who are like this need to be told birth parents are vile before they can understand how to love a child and try to reach a child irrespective of how unlovable they may first appear because they are hurting so much.

            I do’nt think Social workers should need this stuff either – surely a basic understanding of, interest in, care for humanity should inform what they do.
            Why do we need to paint anyone as a demon before we can care about their child – even though that is the job all take on?

            This is not reality – it is a cartoon and it is highly unethical. This is acceptable only in a world where it is not acceptable to need services. The Victorians gave ‘moral instruction’ via the pulpit before the destitute could access access parish funds. We see their empty churchs all around us today – the congregations just swelled and swelled to accommodate them.

            We have nowcreated an identical system with a new language – much of it based around the language of trauma. We are not encouraged to consider rights, ethics and injustice. This is reality not ‘virtual reality’ – reality.

      2. looked_after_child

        I have no difficulty understanding your point about different experiences or that being a parent to a child that has been abused will be hugely challenging and all will need support. It is the lurid, biased nature of this kind of material and the harm it can cause that I object to.

        It should never be left to adoptive parents to produce this material, then call it ‘virtual reality’, use it to raise money and promote their business, promote a ‘saviour adopter’ and ‘saviour carer’ and ‘saviour sw’ narrative and so on.

        This is by no means to under value what loving adoptive parents and carers bring to a child. This material is unethical by any measure and a massive error in judgement at best. It should be withdrawn.

          1. looked_after_child

            Or why not use the Dursleys to explain about Kinship Carers or Cinderella to explain how it can all go wrong with a new mum or whatever… Life is always a lot more complicated than a pen picture. When you are in a position that you are filling people’s heads with information, you should not be able to fill with poison.

            When you do that against people who cannot fight back, getting money from the taxpayer to do so..it is just so, so wrong. Govt policy is way off track…

          2. HelenSparkles

            Ok, I need to look at the material more closely, I did look, but didn’t see it describe birth parents as vile so it warrants close examination when I have time.

            Your argument partly seems to be that a film about adoption made by adopters doesn’t cover other matters. I don’t quite see that point. It is about adoption, not anything else. I do see a number of times when people take on an argument and say what about xyz, when the argument was about abc. Nobody can take it all on. Nuanced or not.

            I don’t disagree about government bias towards adoption, in practice the law dictates that it is only when nothing else will do, and the law hasn’t changed. Until it does, neither does practice.

        1. HelenSparkles

          Saying that adoptive parents shouldn’t be left to put together material about adoption seems absurd to me. It would be like me telling you that I will talk about your experience not you when actually, user led content is often invaluable for everyone.

          1. looked_after_child

            It is for foster carers, social workers and adoptive parents..pretty much everyone Helen. It is the portrayal that is wrong..Imagine if I said all whatever are terrorists, why should anyone be allowed produce a cartoon portraying poor, young parents in this way..no middle class mums with bottles of wine or dads on their computers or whatever – All the abuse cases on TV at the moment apply to people who have public standing and there are quite a lot. Each child’s situation is different – you cannot produce this prejudiced filled stuff and call it ‘virtual reality’ and then expect not to be challenged..well, clearly you can ….but you should’ent be able to.

          2. looked_after_child

            Garrett (2009: 537), also drawing on newspaper reports of Baby P, highlights the class contempt in the frequent use of the underclass construct and links this to the ‘regulatory social agenda of neo-liberalism’. In his book Chavs, Jones (2012) argues that the media and politicians alike dismiss as feckless, criminalised and ignorant, a vast, underprivileged swathe of society.

            Stereotypes, he suggests, are used to avoid genuine engagement with social and economic problems and to justify widening inequality. The construction of neglect in contemporary discourse needs to be seen in the context of increasing public and media discourse fuelled by political ideology that stigmatises and demonises people living in poverty and holds them responsible for their children’s neglect because of their behaviour and poor choices.

            Clapton et al (2013) argue that claims making, often led by large children’s charities, reflected in the media and supported by politicians, is a regular feature of the contemporary child protection discourse, policy and practice.

            Gillies (2013) rightly asks: ‘How did we get to the point where regulating the intimate family practices of the poor and disadvantaged, while simultaneously cutting benefits and services in the name of austerity, can be broadly accepted as caring and progressive?’

            Poverty and child neglect – the elephant in the room?
            Anna Gupta, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK


            Absolutely fantastic paper – just nails so much… context, history, disability, poverty, stigma, who controls the narrative….all of it.

          3. HelenSparkles

            I absolutely agree re class, poverty & austerity. We are led by a very judgemental and uncaring government whose policies injure people, often the most vulnerable, and this is cruel. That there is training for SW on ameliorating the impact of poverty is ridiculous in one of the richest countries in the west in the 21st century. Most of my working life is spent doing just that though.

      3. Angelo Granda

        Amongst the reasons children are taken into care is CS malpractice but whether or not removal is lawful, there is research and we know that children are traumatised by removal and we know that children are neglected and are quite likely to be abused in care. Power corrupts and there is a ‘culture’ of abuse within the system which attracts predators. Children are at much more ‘risk’ in care than if at home with natural family with support as specified by the Children’s Act.
        Adoptive parents see the results of institutional abuse not parental abuse . The LA’s invent narratives and brainwash adoptive parents, children and the Public. This ‘virtual reality’ caper is just another technique they have introduced to replace the picture books and other printed propaganda.

        1. HelenSparkles

          The LA did not produce the virtual reality materials, a group of adopters did, because it reflected what they needed. It does’t say that ALL parents fall into that group, it probably does reflect that children who are adopted do. That is that because adoption means that nothing else will do, the risks are there for children, within their family of origin.

  10. looked_after_child

    I’m going to make a complaint to Ofsted about the LAs who use this material – how it spreads hatred and mistrust and is dreadful for community cohesion. I’ve already asked one group to break their association with them given the vile, nasty, prejudiced, lurid, portrayals of families who have need of children’s services or explain why they have not so I can take further via parent forums, my MP and the like.

    No Innovation Funding for us though. We are on our own unlike this lot who have the great and the good and even the well-intentioned behind them.

    1. Angelo Granda

      Readers have to understand that schools and the CS are both at the command of the Local Authority often the same one ,probably hand-in-glove and under the same strict directives from lawyers and management ,I suppose.
      I suppose also teachers fall victim to the ‘child rescuer’ disease and also constantly seeking kudos ,self advancement etc. In fact,I know of two who reported their own head to the CS on fake grounds because they did not like her and the way she ran the place.
      Thanks for the link,Sam.It is a myth that children’s welfare is paramount to LA’s.Often they come second to their financial interests and often their child-protection investigations are not bona-fide.It is certainly not difficult to imagine dodgy school staff and dodgy SW’s getting together and becoming over-friendly against the interests of children and families.

      1. Angelo Granda

        The Police Child protection squad also come under the LA umbrella.
        I must stress that I do not believe there is any top-level conspiracy to deceive .
        The dysfunction of the system is brought about for a mish-mash of different reasons caused mainly by the fact that professionals are mere human beings subject to all the normal stresses and pressures we all face.Spirit willing,flesh weak.We citizens do empathise.
        Surely the thing built into the system specifically to safeguard children from injustice that is, strict guidelines and process should be adhered to strictly and if not families should have the right to appeal!

        Readers,may I take this opportunity to appeal for professionals amongst you to come forward with comments. It is best if we strike a balance.Relentless criticism of parents by professionals or vice- versa cannot lead to consensus. We all have to show willing and engage in discussion ,ask and answer questions etc. If comments are always one-sided ,it does not help and we will lose readers. I look forward to the honest outlook and views of cp professionals more than any other as they are so helpful and interesting.
        I do understand some of the practicing professionals may face censure by management should they use say to much so be wary and use a pen-name if you prefer.

        1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

          I agree entirely with your second paragraph. Where you and I part company is that you often seem to assert that things which worry social workers about parents should not worry them – such as a child losing weight or a violent partner etc. Just as professionals must not over step the mark using ‘child protection’ as an excuse, so too must parents not hide from or be in denial about aspects of their parenting which could do real harm to their children.

          But I accept its difficult because – as you rightly say – we are all only humans, with all the weakness and frailty that implies. Being able to accept when we have done something wrong and need to change is very difficult for all of us and that applies to both professionals and parents.

          I appreciate that not many people comment here – but I can reassure you that a lot of people are reading. 183 people now subscribe to the weekly updates and daily visits to the website are now close to 2K. I don’t think those are bad analytics for an independent site.

  11. looked_after_child

    Hello Sam
    Autistic mums, if they do not have a diagnosis, seem to be at particular risk of this accusation. FII is quite rare thankfully – Very anxious mothers of children with hidden disabilities are not that rare sadly. SW’s are so alert to abuse by training and blind to hidden disabilities, also it would appear by training,

    It leaves families very exposed to this kind of abuse. It is really important to get really good health expertise on board. In most LAs this seems to be the missing ingredient.

    See https://childprotectionautisticchild.weebly.com/charge-of-fabricating-illness.html
    The ‘it must be Mum blog’ on the subject is very good
    And yes – this kind of thing is often an attempt ‘to shift blame’ from services to the individual or family. It is wrong but as things stand, families can do little about it.

    1. Sam

      Thank you. That link to the blog made the picture so much clearer, especially the red flags such as making a complaint about services. I saw from making a subject access request that the social worker thought me making a complaint was a risk factor to my child. The truth was far more simple, I complained due to lack of services which were supposed to be provided as my child was at risk because of the lack of support. Much as you would do if you received a lousy service , for instance in a hotel or garage. I understand of course making subject access requests are another red flag. Which just goes to show how oppressive the relationship between CS and parents is. You do as we say , even when we are acting unlawfully . Rather than something that is informed by research and has liberal values it reminds me of how school was when corporal punishment was legal. I don’t mean that social workers chuck blackboard rubbers ( with apologies to younger readers) , for minor infringements of the school rules or sometimes just because the teacher could The system has the same attitude towards parents, do as I say or else, don’t think , certainly don’t have an opinion or you will be seen as insubordinate . In other words it is a conservative system with a small c . It is a profession that is attractive to bullies, not all SW but there are certainly some , just as there were in the teaching profession. Schools changed, they needed to , it is time that child protection did.

  12. looked_after_child

    Spot on Sam
    When I was in primary school, our male teacher had a cane. We used to be lined up against the wall once a week and he would ask every child in turn to spell a different word, if the child made a mistake then that child had to hold out their hand and would get a swipe from the cane. The same children got beaten week after week – guess who those children were? Children with learning disabilities and children that smelled of wee. Week after week, the same children and they seemed to get beaten harder as the teacher got more frustrated. Our teacher was’ent a sadist (and yes some were and some were child abusers too ) – this was the system – everyone accepted it as normal.
    As you say ‘Schools changed, they needed to , it is time that child protection did.”

  13. looked_after_child

    The What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care: Development Team

    – no adults with lived experience, no families ( birth or adoptive), no kinship carers, no-one with shared pr, no parent’s panel representatives, no-one with s17 experience, .

    This is the best England and Wales are capable of ? Professionals talking to themselves building a system that meets their needs.. What does it take to get social care professionals to hand over/share power to shape the system to the people with lived experience it should be there to serve?


  14. looked_after_child

    that explains why families have to be invited to the table that sets the Agenda- the Care System should not be a ‘fly paper’ system – 0nce you enter it you are stuck and so are your children and often, sadly, their children. If govt are serious about wanting an effective Care system they must let go of the ‘we know best’ approach – It is failing and unsustainable.
    Attitudinal change is the hardest but can deliver the most benefit.

  15. Angelo Granda

    Sam and looked after child.Thank you for your comments which , in my view, bring us to the very nitty-gritty of authoritarianism and the abuse of power by LA officials. Lawyers should take careful note of your opinions and those on the links provided.
    In reality the SW’s and their managers appear not to have any idea of professionalism and social sciences and for one reason or another of their own, they will not engage in dialogue with parents ( inviting them to the table) ; they discuss matters only between themselves and ignore professional ethics ,guidelines,frameworks,procedures etc. which stipulate such engagement.They don’t reply to letters or react to evidence put forward by anyone if it is deemed hostile to the aims of the LA. To achieve (and gain kudos ) for their employers, the functionaries examine the issues hypercritically ,over-fearful of everyday risks ,predicate excessively and seek out only that evidence (including hearsay) which is negative towards families.
    Such attitudes put the LA’s beyond the pale of civilised conduct , its arguments are presented as if they require no further answer and it is reckoned they are not entitled to any proper presentation to the public in the media.It all happens behind closed doors.One aspect of the assault on families which lawyers should realise is false ideology held by those who are very badly trained and managed with no real idea of social care or professional ethics and don’t really understand what they are saying or why. Many of the managers and the LA executives (not all) are low-calibre individuals not really fit for public office. Yet they all regard themselves and the Courts regard them as highly educated in the necessary disciplines just because they have managed to acquire a university degree.
    In truth the policy directives have little to do with real social sciences or real social care which is why the authorities are determined the ideas do not reach the General Public.
    This constitutes a major threat to the human rights of all British citizens.
    Lawyers must ensure due process has been followed scrupulously everytime ,especially in regard to giving parents the chance to express agreements and disagreements.They comprise the only safeguards we have against authoriaarianism. Parents must always be allowed to give their own account of circumstances and discuss care-plans etc. The Law says so. Particularly if ‘assessments’ state that parents will not acknowledge concerns and show the ability to change, check the evidence in detail.If parents haven’t been asked ,how can such evidence possibly be right?

  16. Angelo Granda

    Sarah,this is a response to your request for support re- false allegations in the selection of tweets reproduced on these pages.
    If it is any help,I can assert confidently that I find the CPR site very helpful and that I have seen no racist hate-mails,posts or comments etc.
    Please may I refer you to my comment just above this one especially the second paragraph.Firstly,the false allegation has most likely originated from an individual or organisation in a position of power.Please note that the allegation being untrue does not matter to them as long as the illegitimate aim is achieved.I know you will be shocked and distressed but you should try and remember that the false claims mean little even if you can prove them wrong!
    Luckily,as a lawyer,you are less vulnerable than many parents who become victim to false evidence from powerful institutions.Don’t over-react and go around issuing indignant denials.You will be attacked for doing so; it may be asserted you are in denial; it can be said you are over-defensive ; even though no-one has asked you or explained concerns to you,it may be claimed you don’t acknowledge or understand them; you may be accused of using over-emotive,aggressive language or belligerence.
    Plus,even if you force them to admit the allegations are false after an official complaint,they will not change it.

    Concentrate on their unlawful action not on cloud-cuckoo land claims.
    Were you contacted and allowed to give your account of circumstances etc.before your rights were removed?

  17. Angelo Granda

    Please, Sarah, were the management of the Government Court website open and honest with you about the source of allegations and did they ask for your account of circumstances before blocking the CPR?
    Were you given the chance to express disagreements before such extreme action was taken?
    If not,they have not been fair and impartial and they have taken their decision without taking into account all the evidence.
    That would be shocking for a group of civil servants : it does not bode well if the authorities break with ethics and good working practice.Possibly ,one of the civil servants themselves made a false representation ( disguised as fact) having taken exception to one of your posts.

    Keep us informed.I am very concerned if you are being targeted by a group of quasi-legal civil servants.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Its all very odd. I was told by the Gov Wifi team that my site had been identified as a threat by Brighthouse.com. Just checked that site and I am given 92/100 rating for trustworthiness and am listed under category of ‘society’. I have just logged on at court using Gov Wifi and am no longer blocked!

      Its a good thing I don’t believe in conspiracy theories…

  18. Angelo Granda

    I don’t believe there is any deliberate conspiracy to block the CPR but you cannot be too careful.Systems can and do often contrive to mispresent facts and produce injustice.
    I suggest that you take steps to ensure that any false reports are removed from government databases else in years to come
    they may be dragged up as part of a witchunt and it will look as if there is a history of hate and racism concerns about the CPR.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Yes, I am taking it very seriously and I will certainly investigate any other occasions where my site is unfairly blocked or miscategorised. It is likely to be some kind of automation but I can’t rule out malicious individuals, sadly.

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