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.