Do you remember...and I'm pretty certain you do...the days when a teacher could put a plaster on your knee when you'd fallen over without being accused of abuse? When Social Workers actually had the power to intervene and had been trained on the job and had commonsense but didn't have a University degree? When they'd have shouldered their way into the house of an abused child and demanded to see said child and not have been fobbed off with a parent 'knowing their rights' and have stood their ground and not been intimidated until the bruised and battered child was produced? And have tucked the child under their arm and removed him or her to a place of safety and stuff the parents rights?

The time when the Police...called out to a 'domestic disturbance' would have demanded locked doors were opened now this minute and if the key wasn't forthcoming would have battered the door down to find small, sad and starving child sitting on a urine soaked mattress...and would have wrapped the child in one of their jackets and borne him or her away and stuff the parents rights?

I remember those days you see...when I worked in a childrens home the Police would bring children in who'd been left all on their own at night...or children neighbours had reported as being locked in rooms on their own...or babies who'd been simply plain neglected. Then it was left up to the parents to prove that they were fit and able and willing to care for their children properly. Some simply didn't bother to ever even try to do that...a very few did, but not many. The doorbell would go at two in the morning and a couple of Police Constables would be standing on the doorstep with small children stinking of vomit and urine wrapped up tight in the lads jackets...

Maybe it wasn't the 'right' solution...perhaps it is better to keep families together at all times...perhaps it was wrong to do what was done in the Sixties when parents out at the 'pub until the early hours returned home to find their children had been placed in care and they'd be obliged to explain why those children were hungry and bruised and then ...when they were allowed to visit...they were attended by Social Workers and not allowed unlimited and unsupervised access until they could prove they were able for it...

We have an old friend called 'Arry...Harry used to be a Child Protection Officer...he has mountains of experience and plain commen sense and during the Sixties Harry used to simply stand there on someones doorstep and not go away. He wasn't fobbed off you see...because he knows people and he has an instinct that something isn't quite right...and he knows when a daft girl high on drugs is giving him the runaround or a thug who calls himself a father has been drinking and taking his temper out on his little step-child...then Harry's role began to alter. He was called a Social Worker and was obliged to attend lectures about parental rights...Harry was told in no uncertain terms he could no longer insist on entry to a house he suspected had an abused child in it...he had to call a meeting instead and everyone would ramble on about the basic right of the parent...quite forgetting the little child locked in his room and fed salt when he said he was thirsty...

Of course Harry eventually quit. He couldn't do his job anymore you see...he was no longer able to protect children from abuse...he had to spend his days in lengthy meetings and case conferences which came to nought... the child at real risk of serious harm from a parent or parents, or having already suffered terrible harm had been pushed slowly and carefully into the background. Now it was all about the rights of the Mother or the rights of the Father...in the end the child dies an awful death which eventually reaches the courts and has evidence too graphic to be reported and the jurors are in tears and everyone suddenly stands up and says'how dreadful' and there are inquiries and searching questions are asked and demands made to change the law...

We've lost our common sense...we've lost our neighbour inquistiveness...we've lost our plain humanity...we've lost our sense of what is right and proper...we've forgotten that a small child at risk needs safe and caring protection...and so another little one dies frightened and alone and his sibling has to live with that for the rest of his life and people like Harry, who would have pushed his way through the front door and stood his ground and seen the little boy no-one else was able to see and taken him and his sibling away to a safe place free from abuse...well...people like Harry aren't wanted anymore in todays world.

I've written this in response to a news story about a little boy called Daniel who died after months of severe abuse by his Mother and Step-Father...they've been sentenced to serve at least thirty years in prison. Daniel died because no-one did anything. Not his school teachers...not the local Police force...not the Social Workers. Daniel died a sad and lonely death because nobody had the plain guts to step in and say 'enough is enough'...Daniel was only four. Not much more than a baby really. We've lost our senses...we've learned nothing from cases similar to that of Daniels...we'll carry on with Social Workers who have degrees a-plenty and not one ounce of commonsense between them...we'll have enquiries and deliberations and sit around polished tables with bottles of Spring water and have smoking breaks and we'll invite top members of the local Police force to join us and we'll end up with the same result...parents have rights...and those rights mean their child has to die for them to be called to account.