Child Protection Week is a time to reflect on what a good child protection system should look like and whether the key stakeholders are equipped to make the changes needed. Each year children die in care or die because they slip through the cracks or have been ignored by a system which continually fails to correct its own dysfunctionality.
This is a week when we should remember those who have experienced out-of-home placements. Those who have been removed from families who have failed to parent their children with care and love. We shall remember those who have been emotionally, physically and sexually abused by a system which doesn't understand the experiences of children and the trauma caused by the removal from their biological parents. We will remember all those children who have been failed by a system which replaces "bad parenting" with poor guardianship.
We all know that children are the most vulnerable members of our community, they have to be protected by responsible adults but one has to wonder who are the responsible adults making decisions about what is in the best interest of the child. How can so many "responsible adults" get it wrong on so many occasions? Why do we as a society allow our politicians to escape rebuke? Why do we allow these self-serving individuals to continue their reign of terror over our children?
As a community we need to celebrate "Child Protection Week" by making a stand against decisions which we view as damaging our children. We need to use this week as a way to become committed to the cause of protecting our children. As the founder of the Child Protection Party I speak to many people each week concerning the removal of their children. I am not here to suggest that all these people are blameless when it comes to parenting their children. I have worked with many parents where the removal of their children was justifiable. However in each case the parents and the children need a voice. I have also seen parents turn their lives around and make significant changes which would justify the return of their children but be denied this opportunity because of their past.
Child Protection Week should celebrate those parents who have made the changes necessary. We should also acknowledge that those parents were not responsible for the way they were parented. We all should fight for the right of each parent to change. We should acknowledge that drug abuse, domestic violence, emotional abuse and sexual abuse should not form any part of a child's life. During this week we should make a stand against all forms of abuse and tell those we know who are disrespecting their children that this has to stop. We first need to look within our own home and ensure that we are doing what we are telling others to do.
Our responsibility to children is to celebrate their "right" to be respected and loved in ways which makes them feel valued. It is incumbent upon all of us who are taking up this fight to be acting in ways which support the values we espouse. It is the height of hypocrisy to be abusive of others and then to advocate that children should be safe. The moment we are putting someone down or modeling behaviour that would be seen as abusive of a child we are no better then the abuser. I know it sounds a little self-righteous, but if we fail to express the values which underpin our cause then we are no different from our detractors.
Child Protection Week should be a celebration of the "rights" of the child. These rights should be enforced by everyone who works and lives with children.