Tuesday 1 July 2008

Why parents get the blame

So the McCanns are innocent. Well, there’s a surprise (by which I mean it isn’t)…

Let’s leave aside for a second the kind of pressure they must have been under from tabloid tittle-tattle, over and above the horror of losing their child. Let’s leave aside the blood sport in bars and dinner parties fought out at their expense.

What really scares me about this whole affair is the way that professionals – police, doctors, certainly child protection officers – consistently fill any mystery in these situations with the conviction that the parents must have done it.

Why should this be? I suppose there’s a natural unease about mysteries among professionals these days. They are afraid they will be blamed for not having the answers. But it is worse than that: the child protection industry has become so powerful that it appears to be almost their duty to suspect the parents. Time after time, as a result, parents who are faced with the tragedy of losing their child are immediately faced with a double one, when they find themselves under suspicion, arrest or worse.

This is a terrifying injustice, and parallel to the phenomenon that John Hemming has been revealing about the family courts, where children are removed from parents on spurious grounds – protected by legal secrecy – and find even those lawyers who are supposed to be helping them are actually colluding with the other side.

There is a principle about power we need to understand here. When people exercise power with impunity, it always becomes abusive. When a whole sector of public professionals believe that parents are the true villains, that principle becomes seriously frightening.


Anonymous said...

2/3rds of children that are abused are abused by people they know, and you ask why authorities tend to look at the parents and family?

David Boyle said...

Lee, you exemplify my point exactly. Does that mean that every parent taking their child to hospital for something unexplained ought to come under suspicion?