Editorial: This cycle of hate does children no good
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The outburst of vitriol towards social workers emanating from some of the media and online message boards in the wake of Baby P has been comparable in tone to the daily demonisation of young people. They don't need to be repeated here. It is the tone of hate. The Sun newspaper has whipped up a bloodthirsty witch-hunt, inciting readers to sign an online petition for all the Haringey workers involved to be sacked. It's as if identifying and punishing those culpable would somehow resolve the problem and bring closure.
While the nation continues to unpick and pore over the tragic life of a 17-month-old boy, Barnardo's has been airing an online film showing gun-toting adults hunting children as if they were wild animals. The adults describe their target as "feral, cruel and ruthless", as "animals" who "destroy people's lives". The dialogue is based entirely on comments made by the public on UK newspaper websites.
Of course, some children commit crimes and need to be dealt with - but the British public overestimates, by a factor of four, the amount of crime committed by young people. This week the charity follows up with a primetime TV campaign to raise awareness of the plight of abused and vulnerable children. It depicts the cycle of crime, violence, drugs and despair from which a young girl cannot break free.
Let's hope the messages put out by Barnardo's and others prove a tipping point to break the cycle of intergenerational hate, involving what are often damaged children, and challenge our culture of blame and humiliation. It's a pretty sick example to be setting the adults of the future.
A wonderful night for the sector
On a more uplifting note, CYP Now's Children and Young People's Services Awards provided a welcome burst of celebration and pride last week for all those who help transform young lives. The 700-strong throng at London's Hurlingham Club paid witness to Children's Secretary Ed Balls hailing the achievements of the workforce over this past year in his welcoming speech.
Congratulations to all the inspirational winners, including the recipient of the first Outstanding Achievement Award for services to children and young people Dame Mary Marsh, who has epitomised the spirit of partnership working. It was a wonderful evening.