Tuesday 27 June 2017

It's the children who matter, and only the children

We need a binding set of laws to fight child abuse, starting with mandatory reporting, writes Emer O'Kelly

Everybody agrees that ethical and social issues have to have "bottom lines". But those bottom lines get very blurred when it comes to the mandatory reporting of actual or suspected child abuse. Let's remember that the services are "overburdened". Let's remember that even a suspected abuser has civil and legal rights. Let's remember; let's keep saying "but" when it's suggested that a person should be criminalised for failing to report the neglect, abuse, or torture of a helpless child.

"But" why should a social worker be "victimised" for not dealing with the overload of case notes which include seeing a five-year-old with great dark bruises cowering away when his mother's boyfriend enters the room? "But" why should doubts be expressed about the "happy family" where the mother has wild eyes and twitching hands as she recounts the paramount importance of the children being Mass servers, and admits to "punishing" them for their reluctance to comply? "But" why should a drug- addicted parent be stigmatised for leaving her baby soaking wet and screaming with hunger while she traipses the streets in search of a fix?

Parents "want the best for their children ... always". Do they?

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