In the news is the terrible business of the poor little boy who was effectively killed by his mother and her partner. A ghastly dreadful tragedy and everyone is scurrying around, trying to apportion blame, as they should, for the signs that those in authority should have acted upon.
Yet to me it doesn’t seem so very long ago that in Cleveland there were two hospital paediatricians who came to the absurd conclusion that literally hundreds of children within a small geographical area were being sexually abused by their own fathers. Social services acted like Nazi stormtroopers. Within hours they swooped on families, summarily took children into care and put the fathers in jail without even any kind of enquiry at all. This caused many many marriages to break up, in some cases suicide of the fathers so accused and an unprecedented inquiry into why so many fathers were apparently sexually abusing their own children, all within one relatively small community.
The answer? The doctors were judging that marks around the children’s anuses denoted sexual abuse. Shortly afterwards, when sanity returned to the situation, other medical experts attested that these ‘marks of sexual abuse’ were equally likely to be caused by constipation, and various other natural causes and were not indicative of sexual abuse at all.
So a few years ago there were a couple of doctors who favoured their own flawed judgement over common sense. Yet those misguided doctors had the power to have children taken into care and arrest fathers without any substantial evidence at all, within hours.
And yet nowadays it seems that a child can be beaten, starved and abused for years and if people in authority notice they don’t seem to be able to do anything about it. A child is obviously starving, yet social workers don’t take the child into care. Recently a child (who subsequently died of neglect and abuse) had a broken back and the hospital doctor didn’t even pick up on it.
Where is the logic in these two ridiculous extremes? What has happened?
Where is the reasonable, sensible middle course, where children and families are protected by the laws of common decency, fair mindedness and logic?