Sky have been leading with the story of a thirteen year old girl refusing a heart transplant all morning.
Hannah Jones, who I have just seen being interviewed on Sky News, is a very mature, articulate, intelligent and well brought up young lady who has suffered from Leukemia and now 'needs' a heart transplant. Having been in and out of hospital for the vast majority of her short life, she's decided she's had quite enough of that thank you very much and has elected to refuse treatment. A right which I understood to be the most basic a patient has. She has the full support of her parents (her mother is a former ICU nurse, so has some idea of what is going on), but the local 'Child Protection Officer' sees things differently, and threatened that the police would turn up with an ambulance and forcibly remove her from her home and cart her off for this operation.
There is no certainty that this most traumatic of operations would extend her life by any meaningful period. One can only wonder what quality that life would offer as well. Local health officials even went so far as to go to the High Court to apply for an order enforcing Hannah to go and have the operation, but thankfully the procedings have been dropped.
You see, Hannah is a child. Therefore her opinion on her own destiny is irrelevant. Everybody knows better than her. Her parents agree with her (and can you imagine the sheer horror of having this conversation with your thirteen year old daughter?), as they do not share the views of the The Righteous individual(s) dealing with this case, they must be threatened with the courts, police and criminal procedings. How dare those parents have the temerity to question the infinite wisdom of these officials? They are going to lose their daughter, and because they've not toed the line, they must lose everything else. These dissenters cannot be tolerated.
If only these efforts had been employed in the case of 'Baby P' a 17 month old boy who was covered in sores and bruises, had eight broken ribs, had been smashed in the mouth so hard that it was ripped, along with his nose, and had swallowed a tooth. His fingertips had had their tissue destroyed and he was missing a number of fingernails he had also broken his back. He had been a regular visitor to the hospital and a number (five, I believe) of social workers had accepted the accounts of the child's mother as to how his continuing injuries came to be. Perhaps unsurprisingly he now lies dead.
When released from hospital, with previous injuries, Met Police recommended that he not be handed back to his mother. Haringey Social Services chose not to follow this advice.
Predictable calls for an inquest have been made, and the question 'has nothing been learned from the Climbie case?' will be an oft-heard cry over the next few days.
What the fuck? What where these individuals doing? I appreciate that social workers have a tough job, but this is their equivalent of a policeman happening across a jewellers with alarms ringing and some men with shotguns and bulging bags marked 'swag' running out and jumping into a waiting car, and then accepting the explanation that it is an elaborate practical joke.
How could you not see what was going on? Even bloody plod managed it, I can only imagine the immense anger that the police involved in this case feel, and can only wonder if the Social Services wonk's first thought is 'well, that's my job then.'
Perhaps if you'd spent a little less time on people like Hannah Jones and rounding up slightly tubby kids to be taken into care, irrespective of how good, loving and supportive their home life is and spent more time thinking 'Hey, how'd that little baby break eight of his ribs?' This situation would have been avoided.
Call me an old cynic, but as no details of the boy's mother or her boyfriend have been released, I'm betting they're black. I'm not suggesting that this abuse took place because that is what is expected of black parents, I'm suggesting that the authorities would tip-toe all around the abuse issue for fear of being labelled racist.
One final point. Whilst driving home from work yesterday I was listening to a debate on Simon Mayo's show on BBC Radio 5. It was about adoption, and the ridiculous policy that the racial, cultural and linguistic heritage of a child is the most important consideration in adoption placements. In short, if you are white, forget adopting a black child. If you are black, forget adopting an Asian child. If you are Asian, forget adopting a white child.
Quotes attributed to the powers that be included such things as 'it would be more beneficial for a child to remain in care than to join a trans-racial family' and 'given the history I could never let a white family adopt a black child.' As a result of this odious and racist policy there are scores of Black and Asian children who are denied a stable and loving family environment for no other reason than the colour of their skin. This is repellent.
I do not respond to the dogwhistle of 'won't somebody think of the children?' But when the children really do need somebody to give them very serious thought, they are the secondary consideration behind what the political implications of the situation are.
It fills me with near incoherent, violent rage.
Some of the Social Workers have been given written warnings. I do not have the words to comment on this.
It would appear that the lodger in this case was white. It is therefore reasonable to assume the rest of the characters involved in this were white. That makes the Social Service's timidity even more incomprehensible.