When I started this site, I promised myself I wouldn't rant (too much) about things I saw in the news. But today, I'm so angry that I have to do something.
Baby P was 15 months old when he was found in his blood-spattered cot. Blue. Dead. He was found with more than 50 separate injuries, including a broken back and several broken ribs, and his face and head were covered in lesions, some of them several weeks old.
Baby P's short life of torture and agonising death are abhorrent to me as to most of us. But if I tell you that all this took place under the eyes of the social services, it becomes clear that something is going horribly wrong. The child and his mother were visited 60 times in the eight months prior to his death (that's twice a week). By social workers, by doctors. The last visit was a mere 48 hours before the child's death, when the doctor failed to spot that he was paralysed from a broken back. The police arrested the mother twice on suspicion of attacking her son, but she was released without charge, declaring that she was a "damn good mum". When the child's biological father started kicking up a stink at social services, they paid lawyers to make him go away.
Baby P's mother and two men living with her at the time have been tried, not for his murder - the court saw that it could never be proven who actually killed the child - but for the lesser crime of causing or allowing the child to be killed. And this week the British press is bitter with recrimination: bring back the death penalty! charge the social workers with neglect! sack everyone involved! deport the doctor! Much of this is understandable, and I understand it.
Like everyone else, I am shocked and disgusted by the story of Baby P's life and death. I abhorr the bullies who launched such a lengthy and savage attack on a defenceless child, I worry about doctors who fail to diagnose broken backs (for crying out loud), and I fail to understand social services management who think this is not their problem. Most of all, it is beyond my comprehension how a mother could allow a neo-Nazi boyfriend to commit such terrible acts of torture against her child. I have two children, and if anyone hurt them that person would have to reckon with a very angry Mama-bear. Neo-Nazi or not.
But what I really want to say is this: our children are our collective responsibility. We all have a duty to look out for them, whether they are our own children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, or whether they are the children of neighbours or our own childrens' school friends. It's not enough to delegate responsibility to overworked and undertrained social workers and then howl for their heads when something goes wrong.
If more of us had the guts to stand up to the bullies who attack toddlers, and took the time to insist on our voice being heard with the police, the social services and the doctors, perhaps fewer children would be forced to live such benighted lives or suffer such horrific deaths.
I support the NSPCC. I hope you might do so too. The link is on this page. All it takes is a click.
Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007, 2008. All rights reserved. Please ask first.