Thursday, 3 April 2014

I wonder where to start this

because I am still angry - and will go on being angry.
There is one of those sensational "human interest" reports on the front page of the paper today - of how two people have been sentenced to four and a half years for the death of a child, the daughter of one of them.
Now I am sorry but four and a half years for the death of a child? It was not an accident - although the final event has been described as such. The child, still a pre-schooler, was repeatedly made to "ride" a 50kg backyard "motorbike" - not because she wanted to do it but because the adults thought it was amusing to make her do it against her wishes. The injuries she sustained over the course of three days killed her. The adults in her life failed to call an ambulance until it was too late.
Prior to that her mother had failed to care for her properly. The reports in the media are, according to someone I know who has first hand knowledge, the "least distressing" aspects of the case.
People tried to get the welfare services involved. They were involved - briefly. Repeated calls to the welfare services however did not get this child removed from a situation in which she was in danger.
I know what the arguments will have been. Everything would "seem to be okay". The child would have "seemed to be cared for". The mother had "listened to advice and undertaken not to repeat the behaviour". And so it would go on.
There would be a reluctance to separate the child from her natural mother. There always is a reluctance to separate mother and child. There would be nowhere to place the child. There aren't enough foster parents - and some of those placements have proved less than desirable.
I don't know what the answer is - although I do think the child should have been removed in this case.
It seems to be a different story with a single father and child. That is seen as much less desirable.
The Whirlwind - the girl I am a substitute "Mum" for - has faced close questioning on more than one occasion by people who say they are concerned that a girl in early adolescence should be living - even just at weekends - with her father. She is well aware of what the questions are about. We had a long conversation about what people might be thinking, what they would say and what sort of questions they might ask.
Her father is excruciatingly careful. It worries him. It also worries her. "My Dad," she will tell people, "Is an absolute gentleman." And yes, he is seen that way by other people but some of them still see it as improper that he should care for her alone in the house. It has been suggested that she should not be a weekly boarder but a full time one - and that other arrangements should be made for the holidays.
Fortunately the school is more than satisfied with the care she gets at home and the relationship between father and child. Her father is more than satisfied with the care she gets at school. I have no concerns about the care she gets in either place or the relationship between then.
I am concerned by those who see nothing but potential problems. "Matron" at the boarding house feels the same way, "She can't wait to be out of here on Friday afternoons, to get home to her father."
Wherever he is they speak on the phone each day, a phone call she eagerly awaits.
"I'm so lucky," she tells me, "My Dad really loves me."
I wonder how the mother of the deceased child felt about her daughter. There is an assumption that all mothers love their children and will do anything to protect them. And yet, at the same time, there are suspicions single fathers who have lost a partner through illness or accident will abuse a child in their care.  The former is not necessarily true and neither is the latter.


Helen Devries said...

Four and a half years for a young life first made a misery and then extinguished....what are the courts thinking of?

And in respect of single fathers bringing up female children we could do with a great deal more commonsense and a lot less prurience.

Anonymous said...

That made me so angry Cat - fourteen years would have been too short.
As for the Whirlwind - she clearly adores her father (and you)! Ros

Anonymous said...

You are not the only one who is angry ... and thank my lucky stars that our step grandson was removed from the care of his mother.