I have a letter in The Guardian today, in the light of deeply disturbing allegations of a child abuse ring in Parliament, dating back to the eighties. Several other letters draw attention to the appalling lack of care of our most vulnerable children. So far, all we have had from successive governments is weasel words. Forty years ago, a groundbreaking study into the effects of being born poor (Born to Fail) concluded that children from poorer homes suffered educationally, mentally and socially, and today, it is worse than ever, as the division between rich and poor is getting bigger and our investment in mental health and in child care services is being cut to the bone. 75% of children’s care homes are run privately, for profit and abuse within this system has been endemic. The investigation at Kwowl children’s home was firstly raised in the eighties but it was suppressed. Again and again we hear of investigations into abuse at children’s homes being opened, then suppressed.
Those who are brave enough to blow the whistle are treated like scum. Alison Taylor who broke the North Wales Children’s Home scandal should have been given a Knighthood. Instead she was sacked and labelled a ‘subversive’. Because brave women like her highlight the spineless, gutless ineptitude of others who are happy to ‘turn a blind eye’. Really, if an alien from Mars was asked what we really think of children in this country, they would rightly conclude that we feel only white middle class pretty children are worthy of protection. Poor, vulnerable troubled children – the ones we weep over as abused babies, if they manage to survive their childhood (and it is survival) to grow up, we are quick to label and demonise. ‘Feral’, ‘benefit scroungers’, ‘the underclass’.
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