Ranty Friday — Lessons Will be Learned

Ranty Friday is my baby.  My thing.  My weekly rant about something that has got right on my wick.   It makes me focus on being ranty one day a week and not every day (which, believe me, would be possible).   But this week I read an email that made me reply with “You just wrote this week’s Ranty Friday”.

You see I was thinking the exact same thing and couldn’t have put it better myself.

So I haven’t.  I have simply copied and pasted the email from my father in law, Mr B Sr, Jim to his friends:

Yet another distressing court case surrounding a young child tortured, beaten and neglected to such an extent that he was observed shortly before his death scavenging for food scraps in skips and bins. OK, those found guilty have been convicted and been sent to gaol; so that’s alright then! Ministers, and others in authority have come out with the usual mantras – “Lessons will be learned” and “Groups concerned must liaise with each other so that this kind of tragedy can NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN!”  “Police, Schools, Doctors and Social services must co-operate and share information”
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Fine words and thoughts but what happened to all the lessons we learned last time and the time before that and so on and so on? Most unconnected people will probably direct their criticism towards those patient and hardworking souls who always seem to get the blame – the Social Workers! Successes are rarely reported but even minor mistakes get  headline treatment and priority in TV and radio bulletins. Human nature! They get slated for intrusion on one hand; turning a blind eye on the other.
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Is it time to think of a new system? Overdue to my mind.
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County by county we would have in each town and district a Child Welfare Officer armed with a “whip” to ensure the necessary liaison occurs. Costly? – Yes but compared with the cost of the much-trumpeted Police Commissioners? OK, that’s in one scalepan – someone else work out, if you can, the cost of children’s lives and put that in the other pan. Go. Give it a try.
This is a quote from a report on the BBC website:
“At times, Daniel appeared to have been invisible,” says the Serious Case Review (SCR), noting that “there was very little evidence that Daniel was ever spoken to individually alone about his wishes and feelings.”
That strikes me as being the first and most fundamental failing in the Daniel Pelka case.  That nobody asked him what was going on.  Nobody talked to him.   Nobody really questioned why he was scavenging in bins, stealing food, or becoming “a sack of bones”.   Arriving at school with a broken arm, black eyes and a bruised neck.     Does that not strike you as a bit odd?
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Actually it isn’t a bit odd.   It is (and forgive me for the swear I am about to make) fucking shameful.
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I am not saying nobody did anything.  It would appear that alarm bells were sounded.   But nothing was ever joined up.  In this day and age of computers and databases, how can that be the case?  How can it be that all these authorities with concerns about a child don’t talk to each other?  Or to the child?    It just makes my head hurt thinking about the incompetence that has led to his death.   And the suffering that led up to it.
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When will lessons be learned, as Jim asks above?  When will these needless deaths stop?  How many more children will die as these lessons are learned?
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For more info on Ranty Friday,   click the link.   And for others joining in, see below:



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  • I head an “education specialist” talking about this the other day, he agreed that teachers should be notifying social services, but once that was done there was nothing further they could or should do. I nearly put the radio through the window! As though they should should continue as normal with nothing said as the child in front of them wastes away. “It’s not my job, I’ve already reported it” – sickening!

  • God I am nearly crying 🙁 someone or people obviously didn’t want the work involved and passed the buck, I was recently contacted because the hospital have a duty to report certain things to welfare officers and my son had a fall, I was a little annoyed but then I wasn’t I was glad someone phoned and checked he was ok, he wasn’t being abused but why they didn’t check his records first is beyond me.

    An excellent RF x

  • Couldn’t agree more. Apparently his mum told the authorities that he scavenged for food because of a medical condition (presumably PWS), but no one questioned why, if that were true, a 4 year old boy weighed less than my 2 year old.

    Sadly, he’s not the only one. There is a trial going on this week of a mother whose 4 year old son’s mummified body was found, in his cot, two years after he had died. He was dressed in 6-9 month baby clothes. Why didn’t anyone know about him?

    Sorry, this is turning into a rant of my own! But clearly something needs to change – some great suggestions from Jim.

  • I am truly sick of news stories about children being neglected and the number of times it could have been prevented.
    There is no excuse in a civil society for not noticing that a child is being starved or beaten.
    Our children are under so much scrutiny how does this keep happening ?

  • Things will change when people stop being afraid of sticking their heads out. When they come out of their comfort zone. When society stops blaming everyone for everything. When this damned if you do and damned of you don’t thing ends. When we all start looking out for each other again, instead of ourselves. When children start being children, not objects. When people get to be people, not numbers or entries in a database. When actions are based on common sense, not job descriptions, targets, green table regulations and lawyers.

    It is my belief that we are all to blame for tragedies like this. Our society has turned into one that has been drilled into turning a blind eye, because the person who doesn’t often receives no assistance. Instead they are shrugged off because they are ‘interfering’, they are patronised, harassed, or even threatened by someone or other.

    Things may change when the ‘WE’ becomes more important again than the ‘I’, which is the ONLY way that societies anywhere can sustain themselves. Personally I can’t see that happening anytime soon, and there will be more heartbreaking news to come, when some vulnerable person has come to terrible grief because he or she could not defend him/herself. With more lessons to be learnt that are never learnt. :’-(

  • Every time I look at that picture of Daniel I feel tears pricking my eyes. I’m mid-writing a guest post on behalf of Action for Children for BritMums, it’s an interview I did with a woman who was abused as a child, who the system failed. Talking and blogging about this is hopefully one way to get us all to sit up, take note and more importantly, take action to ensure that everything possible is done to reach out and help all vulnerable children. So glad you’ve posted this as part of Ranty Friday x

  • Beautiful little boy with such a sad face. And you are completely right about the “lessons will be learned” tripe; they never are. I’ve had inset training on how to recognise abuse but teachers complete the forms with their concerns and, sometimes, someone follows up but not always. If the child’s social worker is on sick leave, nobody seems to pick up the caseload.

  • And I can’t understand why the school didn’t feed him? A child is either eating a school dinner or in possession of food from home. What happened at lunchtime? As Kirsty says, children with PWS are usually overweight and a parent claiming any medical problem should have been asked for more information from his/her doctor.

  • The whole case was appalling, and I can’t actually watch or read stuff about it without wanting to be sick, or cry. He wasn’t much older than Matthew.
    I have worked in the system, and it needs MASSIVE change. We saw children who were neglected, mistreated, and abused, and a lot of the time, we did our best, but were often powerless to do anymore because of paperwork, red tape, do gooding political correctness and just lack of staff, funding and finances. There were children I would have quite happily taken home and never let go back to the situations they were in, if I could have. We have a little boy that comes to my daughters school, often daily, without lunch, because often, Mum “forgot” or “cant be bothered”. The teacher and dinner ladies make sure he either gets a hot dinner, or have a stash of lunch things that he can eat. His mother has been offered free meals, and the school welfare officer is involved, but it makes me FURIOUS that he is suffering because his mother basically “can’t be bothered”.
    The Children’s Trusts were formed so that social services, education, and health ALL worked together, to prevent what happened to Victoria Climbie and other children, nothing has changed, communication is still crap, each area still struggles to keep up and manage caseloads under increasing pressure to save money, do more work and fight the system.
    Change needed. Perhaps if the government spent less money on some things and actually put time, effort and money into social services, health visitors, school nurses back in every school, and updating and making the child protection system less complicated, then maybe things would improve.
    My heart breaks for that poor little boy, and other children who are being treated so badly!

  • I find it very difficult to read anything about this case, it makes me sick to the stomach to think about what that poor sweet child went through.
    It’s very easy to speak about processes and red tape but it was at the level where he was actually dying and the police could have been called. It would have just taken one person to speak to him or take a good look at him – no organisation in itself is to blame – that one person could have been anyone.

  • There are just no words for how awful these cases are. I completely agree. It mystifies me how it can go unnoticed, Why is there not ONE database that police, social services, doctors, etc can all add to, one place where all those who are charged with looking after the welfare of children can see what has happened before.

  • I moved to the US from UK last year (so I’m still getting used to American schools), so I was amazed last night when I was reading the curriculum brochure they sent to all parents yesterday. Apart from info on the curriculum (english, maths etc), they listed all the other services provided. This included a guidance counselor for students, a school nurse, a school psychologist, an occupational therapist and a social worker! Many of their roles, if needed, include home visits, crisis intervention, referrals to outside agencies and working with the parents. They work as a team to spot students who need help. This, by the way, is a local US state school – not private.
    After reading your post I now feel this is probably a good way to help and intervene with students who need it…and hopefully stop tragedies.

  • The whole thing makes my stomach churn. Child Protection & Safeguarding training are by far my least favourite days at work but my god are they the most important!

    (On a side note – love the idea of Ranty Friday – must remember to link up next week!)

  • Our society never ceases to amaze me.

    Lots of neglect and abuse goes unnoticed because children are hidden away, but for a child to be attending mainstream school (as was the case with Victoria Climbie) and it to go unchecked is abhorrent.

    I have linked up a post about how utterly disgusted I am with a new advertising campaign – a ‘spoof documentary’ about neglect. WTactualF??