Wednesday 19 November 2008

Another tragedy of Baby P

There is another tragedy about Baby P. Not just the fate of a child at the hands of adults, but another twist in the rise of what I can only call the child abuse industry.

It means public officials will be even more nervous dealing with children. It means that suspicion will fall on ever more innocent families, and even more vulnerable children will be mistakenly and forcibly removed from their homes, and into the un-tender mercies of local authority care.

The other Baby P tragedy is that it will now be more, not less likely, that his tragedy will be repeated.

Over the past week, a whole army of people have emerged from the woodwork who have reported teachers, doctors and other people to Haringey for suspected abuse, and been ignored. This is not evidence of Haringey’s incompetence; it is one reason why have been so ineffective: because the child abuse industry has persuaded officials that any parents are potential abusers, that every illness that they can find no obvious reason for should bring any family under suspicion.

The truth is that, if every family comes under suspicion, there is no chance at all that welfare authorities can effectively police them. That is not the only reason for the the failure to keep Baby P alive, but it is one of them.

I wouldn’t be so glib as to say that abuse is obvious. Of course it isn’t. But it is a hundred times harder to spot if the field of suspicion covers everyone with children.