Saturday, April 29, 2017

Child Protection Concerns ALL of us

Child protection has been for many years an issue which receives primarily negative coverage. This  is because the media tends to focus on children when they have been mistreated by individuals or the system itself. The well-being of children is not necessarily seen as a political issue or something that we as a public should focus on. Because children don’t vote then they don’t have a voice. We don’t listen to them, we don’t seem to care about them, they should only be seen and not heard. Unless abuse has happened to us, we have a personal experience of being abused, then we are likely to dismiss it, to ignore it, to deny its existence. When we see in the press that a child has been harmed or even killed, the public then rises to its feet, complains, displays their sense of indignation and wants to blame the person or persons responsible for this atrocity.

Yet on the other hand, we know that children do matter. Those of us who are parents appreciate the changes and the growth that we see in our children. We want them to have better opportunities than perhaps we have had. We want them to be safe. We understand the need to nurture and to care for our children to ensure that their mental and physical well-being is ensured. We will fight to protect our children because we want them to feel safe and confident that they can move forward with their lives so they can have the things that are important to them. However, we don’t want to be confronted by the abysmal abuse that occurs to children and families outside our own circle. We want to stay encased in our own bubble refusing to see anything that steps beyond the world we have create.

That some form of abuse fits within 25% of all families is an idea which very few of us are prepared to confront. There is a sense of willing ignorance which prevents a connection with the reality that sits around all of us.

Over the years, I have had many people say to me that they didn’t believe that the issues stated in the media were issues that would ever impact them, until the time that their children or grandchildren or someone who was close to them had their children removed. Until it is personal, we don’t seem to care. We don’t want to care, perhaps we don’t have the energy to care. Until you feel the pain of losing a child, you may never know what it means to have one taken from you. This doesn’t mean that you must have a child removed through the child protection system because there are occasions where children leave their families through death, mental illness, divorce and separation. The separation of a child from its parents is a devastating experience for the child under any circumstances. We often don’t reflect on what that experience may be like for the child.

Regardless of the reasons why children are separated from their parents or their parents separated from children. It is damaging, it impacts everyone.

We have a system, a government system, which is designed to take consideration for the impact abuse has on children and to protect children who have been abused. The system though is powerless at preventing the abuse in the first place. If governments reflect social mores, then the creation of a child protection system is a reflection of a social believe that children should be safe. It means that as a society we are concerned about the well-being of children. So there must be something in the “community think” that says children are important, therefore we must have a system designed to protect them. Yet, we have a community who would prefer not to have to care about children, who don’t see child protection as a major political and social issue. Yes, the community is outraged when a child is abused or dies, and it appears on the front page of the local paper.

When you look at all the other issues that concern most of us. It is hard to imagine why the issue of child protection is not even considered. I think about all the issues that seem to concern most people and wonder how significant they really are. Sure, taxes are important, employment is important, immigration is important, diversity and our multicultural society and how we respond to it is important, but are they equally important as the well-being of children? They are important, all of them are important, but the one which is lease significant or rarely debated is the matter of caring for and ensuring that children have the best possible outcome. I haven’t the answer and the Child Protection Party doesn’t have the answer either. What we know for certain is that to us and our members. It is a vital issue which has been ignored for too long.

Our role is to ask questions around the child protection system to challenge people’s views of children, to give children a voice where they don’t have one, and parents and significant others to talk about their experiences and ultimately to develop a dialogue that discusses the way the system may be improved. Beyond all of that. Our aim and goal is to talk about how we can prevent abuse from occurring in the first place.

We want people to become engaged with the problem to be able to talk about it to their friends, to their neighbours to the people they care about. We want people to become concerned, passionate, motivated and looking for change that is new, different, and significant.

There is an underlying sense of indignation when we have been attacked personally. You may remember occasions where someone has said something to you that you’ve found offensive. Can you remember the emotions that were created inside of you? That sense of resentment, the sense of injustice that just ate away at everything that you believed in. We all have had those moments where we want to fight back wanted to say something disparaging of the other person. For some, that is the way they feel all the time about the child protection system, the system that has removed a child from a parent and parent from a child. The difference here is that it’s not possible to fight back, it’s certainly possible to be enraged, angry, resentful, vengeful, and a range of other intense emotions, but it sometimes seems hopeless to fight back. So we give up. We accept the inevitable, but the resentment and all those other emotions swell around inside of us like a whirlpool. Never settling, never quiet and always, always active.

Most of the community don’t understand the damage that is done to all those who are involved in the Child protection system. Generally, we don’t see the miscarriage of justice. The pain that is created and the poor outcomes experienced by all involved.

The problem is that we want to see the immediacy of any change that governments create. The biggest and best factory and the jobs that it will create is far more important than creating better outcomes for children. Better because we see what is going to happen in the short term, and it is tangible. What benefit is there to considering investing in young people and children when that investment is 15 to 20 years from the time the investment was made. What advantages is there for governments to make that investment now when they may not be in power or have influence or be rewarded for their marvelous and wonderful insight some 20 years later.

I am writing this post because there are a group of people who are passionate about the future of our children. We feel the pain that parents feel, we feel the despair of children who are removed from their parents. We are frustrated because every day we experienced the inconsistencies and poor decision-making made by those who are responsible for the well-being of our children. Change can only come through those of us who are prepared to work together so that we all can find a new way of working.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Bad Behaviour is always Bad Behaviour

Under no circumstances will the child protection party support any behaviour that harms children. Every now and again people comment to us that we are too supportive of parents and are not critical enough of their behaviour. The inference is that because we are not critical of them as perhaps other people may be that we are somehow supportive of their behaviour. I don’t know how many times we need to say this but that is not the truth. Under no circumstances are we supportive of a parent who has harmed or damaged her child or his child in any way. You will never find anyone from this party saying that a damaging behaviour is acceptable. You have never heard any of us say that a certain behaviour which is damaging the child is acceptable. Do we confront parents who have acted badly? Of course, we do! The difference here is that we will confront them in a way which does not denigrate the parent. We understand that if we are to bring about change we need people to work with us, we can’t be bullish or aggressive or judgemental or superior, we must walk the fine line which is confronting yet understanding as well.

It may be difficult for many people to understand why we take this particular way of working. If I was to come to you and tell you that you were a bad mother that these were all the things you do that indicate to us that you do not love your children, that you are a drug addict, hopeless and helpless and unable to resolve the issues which sit in your life, would you want to work with me? You may feel that you must because people have told you that you have to work with me, but it is likely that you would not want to work with me, and if you chose to work with me because you had to, then our working relationship will be tense and probably unproductive.

I believe it is also important to understand how we view people. Do we see people as hopeless and helpless, as losers, as drug addicts, as bad parents, and simply as bad people? As hard as this might be for some people to believe that isn’t how I see others, nor do I want to see others in that way, because it limits us from seeing the good things that inhabit a person’s life. By labelling and categorising we prohibit and restrict change.

I am not suggesting for a moment that the way I work is the only way to work neither amI  suggesting that it is the most effective but what I am saying is that for me and the people that I work with it appears to be the most productive. I know that people do not see the world as I do, that perhaps some times my views are somewhat radical, different. I have often confronted those people and even  judged those people who thought and acted differently to me.

When people confront me with the idea that we as a political party are not focusing on the children but focusing too much on the parent I wonder why they would even think that. Surely, it should go without question that it is the well-being of children that is the sole reason why the Child protection party exists. Do people expect us to be angry, intolerant, vengeful and hateful? Do they expect us to express those emotions because that is how they feel about children being abused or conversely how they feel because their children have been taken from them. I understand that those emotions are intense and justified and right.
I know that when parents have their children removed they are extremely emotional as you would be if your child was taken from you. I also know that amongst the many emotions that they experience sits shame and guilt because they have been identified as parents who were unable to cope with their own children, the people they love the most. These emotions are complicated, they are not just about what is happening for them at that particular time, they about the complexities of their lives, the regrets, the fears, the resentments that sit eating away at them over and over again. Often, it is about the unresolved issues that also sit in their lives that they have never been able to deal with and are now confronted by because their own children have been removed. Often it is about their own feelings associated with their own removal as children.  
So how do those ideas conflate, come together at that moment that someone steps into your life and remove your child/ren. Whoever really thinks about that, who contemplates what it is like for the parent at that time that their children are removed, instead, we want to blame the parent for finding themselves in that situation in the first place.
We feel sad for the child, and rightfully so, that they have been placed into a situation that has harmed them. Yet, we need to understand the context, the past, that encapsulates and surrounds these people.

It is always about keeping children safe, it is also about ensuring that the cycle of abuse is broken.