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Friday, 31 January 2014

Serious failings at adolescent mental health unit

CQC inspectors, who visited the Alpha Hospitals’ service in Woking in November and December, failed the unit against five of the six care standards it was assessed against. The CQC issued formal warnings to Alpha Hospitals on three of these standards – safeguarding people from abuse, records management and protecting the care and welfare of people.

The CQC’s inspection report raised a number of concerns over the use of restraint and seclusion at the service’s adolescent admission ward. Specific concerns included:
A lack of suitable arrangements for the use of control and restraint. Staff had taken people up and down stairs whilst being restrained, in breach of the Alpha Hospital policy. This meant "people were not safeguarded when restraint and seclusion was used", the CQC found. Inspectors saw records which "showed a lack of response from staff when people became unwell whilst in seclusion".
Patients told inspectors restraint or seclusion were not always used as a last resort. One said that as soon as anything ‘kicked off’ they were restrained or put in seclusion. Another said "seclusion and inter-muscular injections are regularly used as threats".
http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2014/01/23/cqc-takes-action-serious-failings-young-peoples-mental-health-unit/

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre

The short sharp shock treatment

We have to ask why these investigations were never conducted in an appropriate manner to begin with, and it is only after certain key witnesses are dead that they are re-opened.
Police reopened a 10-year-old investigation into abuse at a former County Durham detention centre last year when a former inmate said he was also abused. Since then the force said it has been contacted by more than 100 alleged victims.
It is insulting to the public that the authorities, including the police,  should expect that they get away with such weak explanations. Many alleged victims who came forward were ignored.
Following the original investigation, Neville Husband, who worked at the detention centre as a prison officer, was jailed for 12 years in 2003, and Leslie Johnson, a store man, was sentenced to six years in 2005.
Since the investigation was reopened in August, Durham Police has received statements from 143 alleged victims of abuse.
Many of those sent to Medomsley were first-time offenders often detained for relatively minor offences...
In 2003, Newcastle Crown Court heard Husband used his position of authority at the centre to systematically abuse his victims from 1974 to 1984. He was jailed after being found guilty of 10 counts of indecent assault and one of a serious sexual offence after police said almost two dozen victims came forward.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-25834368

Here is an alternative source but be warned that it is a very harrowing account from Bill Malloney.

Youtube video - Bill Malloney

Shutterbug surveillance


21st century wire have a post showing a video `Special Agent Oso` made by Disney for children that quite clearly is propaganda for the surveillance state. A little girl is not able to put on her seat belt and this is spotted by Shutterbug who transmits the message to satellite which is then relayed back to Earth where an agent receives the message and goes on a rescue mission.

http://21stcenturywire.com/2014/01/29/nsa-and-disney-animation-grooming-children-for-total-big-brother-and-big-nanny-society/

MP explains his controversial comments on family courts

 
John Hemming MP responded to the criticisms expressed in Community Care regarding his advice to certain parents that they should emigrate if they wish to have a family life. He believes the child protection system is concentrating too much on very young children but this comes from managerial pressures and Government policy to have more children adopted rather than from front line staff. The checks and balances in the system do not work either, with the consequence that young children are removed from their families unnecessarily while older children in need are not being protected as the increase in child deaths reveal.
There are quite a few social workers who have raised concerns with me about how the system is working. However, they know that they would be subject to disciplinary action were they to make the same points publicly...
I welcome the proposal to have greater scrutiny of care proceedings. It remains that unless the family courts operate as an effective quality control mechanism, management priorities will predominate. That is not good for children, parents or social workers.
http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2014/01/22/social-workers-experts-john-hemming-mp-responds-

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

ECHR rules in favour of Irish woman

"An Irish woman`s courageous 30 year battle for justice ended in trimph today when the European Court of Human Rights ruled in her favour. Louise O’Keeffe (46) wept as the 17 judge Strasbourg-based Court delivered a majority ruling in her favour that the Irish State had been negligent in failing to protect her from abuse in national school."

"The court ruled that her human rights had been breached under Section 3 and 13 of European law – with the Irish State now liable to compensate the mother for what she suffered."

"The judgement is also expected to open the floodgates to over 200 compensation claims by Irish victims abused by State employees. Louise’s first reaction today was to cry with joy. "

"This is a great day for the children of Ireland," she said.

"The mother of two also paid glowing tribute to her legal team lead by solicitor Ernest Cantillon. The ECHR decision will also have enormous implications for European law given the fact dozens of countries other than Ireland also rely on the principal of vicarious or separated liability."

"Louise was abused by her then-principal, Leo Hickey, in a Cork primary school in the 1970s."

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/landmark-victory-after-30-years-for-abuse-victim-louise-okeeffe-29957162.html

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Data trawling and the digital agenda

In Brussels, Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, welcomed the support of the European Parliament for the eHealth Action Plan which addresses barriers to the full use of digital solutions in Europe`s healthcare systems. The Commission will be working towards an EU eHealth Interoperability Framework. "Plainly speaking," he said, "eHealth will only have a future in Europe if our homes, hospitals, healthcare centres and public services can connect to affordable high-speed internet connections. eHealth needs ultra-fast broadband."

 http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-12_en.htm

In the United Kingdom we learn that information from GP practices in England will begin to be extracted and sent to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) in the spring 2014. GPs only have a few weeks to inform all their patients that confidential data from their records will be shared outside the NHS.
 
Data from care.data will be shared with commissioners, researchers and private companies in de-identified and identifiable forms. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced earlier this year that patients will be able to opt out of having their information extracted, but NHS England has ruled out a national publicity campaign and said the responsibility lies with individual GP practices. 
http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/your-practice/practice-topics/it/eight-weeks-to-inform-patients-their-data-is-going-to-be-harvested-gps-warned/1/20004562.article?&pageno=1&sortorder=dateadded&pagesize=20

The issue is discussed on mumsnet which shows the level of confusion there is about it. Children`s data is to be mined as well and parents need to decide on their behalf if they wish to comply or not. Once the information is obtained and placed with HSCIC there is no way to have it removed.

medConfidential explains how to opt out HERE

In Scotland mining of children`s and their families`data is being implemented through the GIRFEC approach.  See Scotland`s secret files and No2ID


 

Monday, 27 January 2014

Shamed police inspector South Wales Police keeps pension


A shamed police inspector jailed for "warped" child sex offences and a crime scene investigator exposed as a paedophile have been allowed to keep their comfortable public sector pensions. Despite being sacked in disgrace, both former South Wales Police inspector Geraint Lloyd Evans and ex-North Wales Police staff member Ian Wyn Williams are entitled to claim the cash.
The chief executive of a leading victim support charity last night blasted the move as "an outrage" and said the vast majority of police officers would be "appalled" by the revelations. The men are among four police staff in Wales convicted of child sex abuse since 2007.
They are able to claim the money because their crimes are not deemed to have been "gravely injurious to the interests of the state or to be liable to lead to a serious loss of confidence in the public service".
It was unclear whether the other two staff were allowed to keep their pensions after their convictions as Gwent Police and Dyfed-Powys Police refused to reveal the details in response to a Freedom of Information request.
http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/shamed-police-inspector-exposed-paedophile-6593219

Hundreds of children held in police cells

Hundreds of children in England and Wales have been held under the Mental Health Act and locked in police cells because officers did not have anywhere else to take them, the BBC has learned.
There were 305 detentions of under-18s in the first 11 months of 2013, Radio 4's the World This Weekend found.
Some were detained for more than 24 hours, according to data released under Freedom of Information laws.
Health Minister Norman Lamb said the level of cell use was "unacceptable".
The latest information revealed that in 2012 there were 317 detentions.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25900085
It goes without saying that a police cell is not a safe place for a child. Why have we not heard about this from social services?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Two sisters must receive the MMR vaccine

A judge ordered that two sisters, aged 11 and 15, must receive the MMR vaccine, raising issues of their human rights. In Scotland, with the introduction of GIRFEC and a named person to oversee the wellbeing of each child, it is to be wondered how disputes with parents about vaccinations will be resolved. In the article it also mentions that children in care were vaccinated against the will of their parents.
The father of the girls, who is divorced from their mother, brought a case to the high court seeking the vaccination, according to the BBC. The parents had agreed not to vaccinate the girls following the MMR controversy surrounding subsequently discredited claims that the vaccine could cause autism.
Mrs Justice Theis said it was a specific case "only concerned with the welfare needs of these children". The case is the third time the MMR issue has been before the court.
A mother was ordered to have her child immunised against measles, mumps and rubella in 2003 after the court ruled the benefits of vaccination outweighed the risks while in 2011, children in care were ordered to have the jab against the wishes of their parents.
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/12/court-sisters-mmr-vaccine-against-will

The following post discusses the competence of the girls to make their own decision.
The judge ruled that the girls were not competent to make a decision on their own behalf but you wonder at the wisdom of the judge when successive Cochrane Reviews have concluded "The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR studies, both pre- and post-marketing, are largely inadequate": while the rhetoric of these papers was pro the vaccine, they failed to disguise the underlying failure to ensure that the product is safe . Likewise, the bureaucratic line that MMR does not cause autism has been contradicted by a number of decisions in the US Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) , and notably in an Italian court case last year, uncontested by the Italian government.
Presently, the US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) lists 63,438 events for MMR and 322 deaths: the limitation of the system is that as a passive reporting system cases are unconfirmed but also likely to be under-reported by fifty or a hundred times . Although the British state has largely rigged itself against the acknowledgment or compensation of vaccine damage the UK’s Vaccine Damage Payment Unit were forced in 2010 to acknowledge the grotesque damage to Robert Fletcher from MMR after a battle of 18 years. Most years (in contrast to the US’s VICP which has paid out $2.5b since 1989) there are no payments at all, and any payments that are made do not exceed £120k (less than $200k). In the UK vaccination takes place effectively entirely at the risk of citizen, which is another unreasonable feature of the present system given the moral pressure on citizens to comply.
http://www.ageofautism.com/2013/10/uncertainty-as-high-court-judge-rules-two-british-schoolgirls-should-be-given-mmr-vaccine.html

The health hazards of disease prevention

Unlike other drugs, vaccines are generally given to healthy individuals; so great care needs to be taken with the risk of adverse reactions. (FDA)  Risks and benefits shoud be disclosed so that those subjected to the vaccinations have the information they need in order to give informed consent.
Deliberately concealing information from the parents for the sole purpose of getting them to comply with an "official" vaccination schedule could thus be considered as a form of ethical violation or misconduct. Official documents obtained from the UK Department of Health (DH) and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) reveal that the British health authorities have been engaging in such practice for the last 30 years, apparently for the sole purpose of protecting the national vaccination program
There is evidence that the joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) deliberately withheld information from parents and health practitioners in order to ensure compliance with vaccination policy. In addition, some Committee members had extensive links with the pharmaceutical companies and the Committee colluded with the manufacturers to promote uptake of the vaccine.
BSEM March 2011
(The health hazards of disease prevention)
From the British Society for Ecological Medicine
  see article in BMJ


Child support agency changes

 


 
Children with absent parents will have a chunk of their maintenance creamed off by the Government when the Child Support Agency is replaced.

Four per cent of all payments made through the new system will be kept back to cover costs.

The poorest children will lose out under the coalition’s reforms.

Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith says the changes, which include a £20 fee just to lodge a claim, are an incentive for estranged couples to come to an amicable private deal without the state’s help.

But campaigners say that is not a realistic option where absent parents – usually fathers – try to avoid taking responsibility for their offspring. 


Saturday, 25 January 2014

Yorkshire fostering agency is inadequate



"AN EAST Yorkshire fostering agency has been judged inadequate as new figures show more foster carers than ever are needed in the Humber region."

"Ofsted inspectors have expressed concern over the Family Foster Care agency in Highgate, Beverley, and marked the service inadequate in all areas inspected following a visit in December."

"In her report, inspector Stella Henderson said the agency, which has 13 children looked after by 13 fostering households, had a number of shortfalls with regards to the vetting of freelance staff, assessing and approving foster carers and the monitoring of services."

"The report comes as an appeal has gone out for 750 new foster families to provide homes for children."

http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/Ofsted-concerns-Family-Foster-Care-agency/story-20477489-detail/story.html


Managing Director, Martin Rae, set up the privately run Family Fostercare in 2008. He is a qualified senior social worker with extensive experience in the Looked-After Children sector.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Child protection failure

Social services are often accused of removing the wrong children from their families. As often happens in tragic cases it is discovered that the family were known to social services but they chose to do nothing. The death of the 11 month old baby killed by his mother is no exception:
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead was in the vanguard of David Cameron's Big Society scheme when it was launched in 2010.
A review into the death of an 11-month-old boy killed by his mother criticises child protection practice at the cost-cutting council which leads David Cameron's Big Society agenda.
Callum Wilson was known to social workers at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, one of four so-called vanguard Big Society authorities.
He was fostered at birth but was returned to his mother seven months later, who then pretended to friends he was a relative's baby.
A serious case review, as yet unpublished, is understood to question the assessment and monitoring of the family.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-25865352

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Private life in schools

There is a discussion in the following article about the effects on privacy with the implementation of GIRFEC in Scotland.
Children’s minister Aileen Campbell has said the approach would be useful in that a specific individual will have the responsibility of overseeing the wellbeing of specific children. As she put it, this will "make sure there is someone having an overview of what is happening to that child, to make sure that early indicators of anything that would pose a threat or risk to that child are flagged up".
Part of the plan is that professionals increasingly share information with one another so as to nip problems in the bud. Like the "every child matters" approach in England and Wales, "safeguarding" children is now the priority of anyone working with children, be that a teacher, a dentist, a youth worker, a swimming instructor and so on. And at one level this sounds OK – anything that stops child abuse…
Essentially, the idea of a specific person looking after the interests of a child coming with the name of "father" or "mother" has been lost from Scottish society – or at least lost within the corridors of power. Scotsman
More and more schools are involving themselves with issues about life and relationships with less time to spend on reading, writing and arithmetic. For instance, children`s sex education began to be rolled out across Glasgow, starting with primary 1 schoolchildren in 2009, with claims that this was endorsed by most parents. HERE

From a Glasgow City Council Management circular we are told that the approach to sex education should include active teaching and learning approaches, such as:
focused surveys and questionnaires
discussion and debate
analysis of information, case studies and statistics
quick think/brainstorm activities
`draw and write`
role-play and drama situations
problem solving opportunities
use of audio visual, computer, and information communication technologies
So every effort is going to be made to prevent children getting bored with the same subject. But there is something else going on:

Throughout the whole of the child`s education at school, what is being encouraged is the breaking down of barriers and reserve whilst facilitating intimate discussions between pupils and between pupils and teachers. Some people may see this as a healthy development, but does reserve not have a place in protecting children? Then again, if private thoughts are no longer allowed to remain private about very intimate matters where is privacy?

Moreover, in the context of discussions and role-play, where is the dividing line between education and grooming?  We do not know if the parents who approved of this, when sex education was being discussed with them, had any inkling of the GIRFEC approach. Somehow I doubt they would have been informed about the planned surveillance of children. For whilst all this debate and discussion is going on in classrooms, children will be monitored and opinions about their opinions will sometimes be placed in data storage units never to be erased. Some may live to regret the loss of their privacy.

Meanwhile parents, always under suspicion due to the GIRFEC approach, are expected to trust that a series of teachers and school assistants are always acting appropriately with their children during sex lessons. `Getting it right for every child` is certainly a very one sided arrangement. Has it been deliberately set up to get close to children in order to extract information from them?

Here is a link for a sample of the educational material - which comes with a warning about foul language; http://www.bbooksonline.co.uk/

Getting it right for children and families

The Wellbeing Indicators

Healthy--Achieving--Nurtured--Active--Respected--Responsible--Included--Safe



Each child is expected to be supported in order to fulfil their potential across each of the wellbeing indicators. The Scottish Government in `Getting it right for children and families`explains how the Wellbeing Indicators are to be used by practitioners:
The wellbeing indicators are used to record observations, events and concerns and as an aid in putting together a child`s plan. The My World Triangle and Resilience Matrix are used to gather, structure and help with assessing and analysing information.
Children and young people will progress differently, depending on their circumstances but every child and young person has the right to expect appropriate support from adults to allow them to develop as fully as possible across each of the Wellbeing Indicators.
All agencies in touch with children and young people must play their part in making sure that young people are healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible, included, and, above all, safe.
Only when support from the family and community and the universal services (ie school or health services) can no longer meet their needs will targeted and specialist help be called upon.
Getting it right for children and families
What is frightening about this is that targeted and specialist help to address the child`s needs - across all the wellbeing indicators - will be called upon by the `named person,` not the parent, because it is the named person who has ultimate responsibility for the wellbeing of the child.  The record of observations, events and concerns will be recorded by the named person and shared with other agencies, with or without consent, who will be encouraged to collaborate.
 
What is to happen if a parent disputes the outcome of the assessment by the named person, or does not wish to participate with the targeted specialist help, is never made clear. It is easy to imagine how such a disagreement could be interpreted as a problem with the parent, and hence a risk to a child`s wellbeing, by a named person who might see their view as the only right one.
 
If ever there was a system designed to set up a `slippery slope` of concerns in order to justify interventions and control of all parents and their children, GIRFEC is it.

Note also:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/10531683/Hundreds-of-teachers-suspended-over-criminal-allegations.html

Hundreds of teachers in England have been suspended as a result of criminal allegations against them in the last three years, new figures show.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Edinburgh survey on transitions and youth crime

 © 2013 Edinburgh-Scotland.net

Given that the Scottish Government is pushing forward an agenda to allow agencies to intervene in the lives of families even before a crisis occurs, it is very important that it is actually the families who require the early interventions who will be targeted. The following research suggests that it is not going to be a simple matter to predict families heading for a crisis. Although politicians talk about troubled families and deprived areas what the research shows is that at the individual family level, deprivation cannot be used as a predictor of later childhood delinquency or drug use.

Rather, what is significant is that there are certain kinds of neighbourhoods which are more likely to have higher levels of juvenile delinquency: they have changing populations; they have a high density of young people; and they are poor. But these are social issues. If the Scottish Government is serious about making Scotland the best place for children to grow up in, surely it is these social problems which should be tackled first.

"New research published today by the University of Edinburgh reveals that young people’s involvement in offending is directly influenced by the characteristics of the local neighbourhoods they live in.
The research indicates that involvement in delinquent behaviour is associated with living in neighbourhoods that are characterised by higher levels of deprivation. Also, although young people generally start to give up or reduce their offending around the age of 14, those living in deprived localities are more likely to continue. However, deprivation at the individual or family level has no significant effect on young people’s involvement in offending.
Importantly, the characteristics of neighbourhoods that influence offending may vary between types of offence. The area characteristics that most strongly predicted involvement in property crime at an early age (13 or under) were poor supervision and control by adult neighbours, and social disorganisation, characterised by frequent population turnover and high density of young people. Those who got involved in property offending later in adolescence (age 14 or 15), however, were not influenced by the characteristics of their neighbourhoods.
Although neighbourhood deprivation explains involvement in delinquency, the same is not true for drug use. Cannabis use is more common in prosperous neighbourhoods, but also in areas of social disorganisation. This shows that different explanations are needed for delinquency and drug use, and that different initiatives are needed to tackle these two problems...
The four reports from which these findings are taken are the latest in a series from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, which is following a cohort of around 4,300 young people who started secondary schools in Edinburgh in the autumn of 1998."
http://www2.law.ed.ac.uk/cls/esytc/findings/pressrelease7.pdf

See Policy making without evidence

Four year old dies in hospital

Freya Wells, a four year old girl, was taken to Kingston hospital with breathing trouble and vomiting blood. At the hospital Dr Rosita Ibrahim gave her oral antibiotics despite the advice from other staff members that because she was vomiting she should be given antibiotics intravenously. Her condition deteriorated but was not taken seriously until a consultant was called at 5 a.m when shortly afterwards Freya Wells died. Had the doctor diagnosed septic shock early enough Freya would have had a 95% chance of surviving.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2542676/Doctor-painfully-depth-girl-four-95-cent-chance-survival-died-given-wrong-medication-coroner-rules.html

Nursery place no longer available

Newsnet Scotland has learned that a shortage of staff caused by maternity leave has left some children without nursery education.

According to one parent, whose daughter attends Craigton Primary nursery, the council informed her without warning that her child's place was no longer available due to staff shortages.

"My daughter is in her preschool year. This is unacceptable. What do we as parents need to do to get a answers and resolution?"

http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-news/in-brief/8620-labour-run-glasgow-council-under-fire-after-children-prevented-from-attending-nursery

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Youth unemployment in Scotland

From the Report on Draft Budget 2014-15


9. Recent labour market statistics published by the Scottish Government show that 53.2% of young people in Scotland are in employment, and around one in five (20.5%) young people in Scotland (aged 16-24) is officially unemployed. We requested from SPICe trend data on comparative rates of youth employment and unemployment in Scotland and the UK. These data are shown in the table below
Youth Unemployment Youth Employment
Scotland UK Scotland UK
July 2008 - June 2009 14.5% 16.9% 60.0% 54.5%
July 2009 - June 2010 18.2% 19.5% 55.6% 51.0%
July 2010 - June 2011 19.6% 19.8% 55.6% 50.3%
July 2011 - June 2012 21.4% 21.3% 53.7% 49.4%
July 2012 - June 2013 20.5% 20.7% 53.2% 49.7%
10. The rate of youth employment in Scotland has continually been higher than for the UK as a whole over the past five years. Youth unemployment in Scotland and the UK is far higher than unemployment among the working age population as a whole. Page 56 of the draft budget document notes that only eight out of the 28 EU countries have a lower youth unemployment rate than Scotland.

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/70880.aspx

Monday, 20 January 2014

Teenagers betrayed

The betrayal of teenagers by this government is a disgrace - so it says in the Guardian article 17 January 2014. Why? Because young people in the UK are being hammered by austerity:  18.6% of young people are now unemployed, rising to 35.5% among 16 to 17-year-olds.

In the 1960s those who left school at 15 walked into apprenticeships or got a job in Woolworths. If they decided they had made a mistake they could go to night school in order to improve their prospects. They were free to pick and choose. Now, although more young people are continuing their education from school to university level, with enormous debts incrued, the prospects are grim.



The history of the `teenager` as a separate consumerist group in society is admitted as a construct, a modern rite of passage from childhood to adulthood, a concept that still has marketing value today because the `cult of youth` sells even when teenagers may not be able to buy'

Youth has long been seen as a problem but somewhere along the evolution of ideas, it has been grasped as an opportunity:
European nations developed regimented groups, such as the Scouts and the German Bünde (and at the extreme, the Hitler Youth). On the other hand, there were autonomous movements that ranged from back-to-nature groups, such as the German Wandervögel or the British Woodcraft Folk, to consumerist types, such as 1920s flappers or swing kids in the 1930s.
Passing into general use near the end of the second world war, the American definition of youth's social role was the teenager: a product-hungry, democratic, pleasure-loving individual. This consumerist identity has become the principal pubertal ritual in many western countries.
 Admitting that at present in Britain teenagers are bearing the brunt of an artificially skewed austerity, David Blanchflower spelt out the cost of this among youth:  depression, self-harming, suicidal thoughts. With cuts to the future jobs fund and the education maintenance allowance, and mooted curbs on benefits to the under-25s, teenagers are being hammered by the coalition.

Cutting through the party political rhetoric generated by the article one commentator said, `Youth unemployent is chronic throughout Europe, and the political elite has absolutely no will or idea on how to tackle it.`

Or as other commentators on the whole situation have said: The rich continue to get richer, corporate profits have never been higher, corporations pay little or no tax, and the banks that contributed to the crisis are more powerful than ever.

So it was a bit disenguous to be quoting David Blanchflower, a former Bank of England economist on the cost of austerity to the youth.

Yes, it`s a disgrace what is happening to teenagers but it is also a disgrace how this is being played out in the mainstream media - an endless Punch and Judy puppet show between supposedly alternative parties who sing from the same hymn sheet and ignore the root cause of austerity.

Put austerity where it belongs - on the bankers who caused it.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Children advertised on Pinterest

The Government has endorsed Pinterest as a means to advertise children for adoption by having David Cameron`s name and picture at the top of the board. Many people would argue that a public platform like Pinterest is not appropriate for this type of project, nor is it safe for the children.



Researching Reform has written a post about the shoddy practices of the private fostering and adoption agencies and comments include the following:

January 19, 2014 at 3:36 pm
The national fostering and adoption agency was founded a few years ago by a couple of devoted social workers .The company was sold to a foreign company called graphite last year for a mere £130million; A wonderful profit for all concerned who triumphantly deny that there is anything sordid in making a lot of money out of children in care.
January 19, 2014 at 7:31 pm
They clearly saw the writing on the wall and cashed in! How many others? Social workers, managers, directors, cafcass officers & Judges and legal personnel who are involved with children’s care, foster or adoption & Court work, ostensibly providing a service but in reality making hand over fist profits! How many of them foster children? Does additional money exchange hands each time there is a placement change? Like a finders fee? How many adopt? Themselves or friends? Do they have to declare an interest? What if it is in the names of their parents, husbands or children?
It makes no difference where in the country they worked and then subsequently set up a business, the point is they would profit because they would know the system!

Family lawyer criticises MP`s dangerous advice to parents

John Hemming MP  chair of the family justice group, has been branded as irresponsible by a family lawyer for advising parents to flee the country. His view is that the system is so stacked against parents that they stand little chance of keeping their children if they are suspected of child abuse. ‘All the cards are held by the local authority. It has large resources to fight the cases – it does all the assessments,' he said.  As reported in The Law Society Gazette, the chairman of the Law Society`s family law committee disagrees.
... Naomi Angell said recent changes to speed up care cases had shifted the balance against parents, but described Hemmings’ comments as ‘irresponsible and dangerous’.
‘Local authorities have a duty to, and society demands, that they protect children at risk,’ said Angell.
Joe Burns, commenting on the article had this to say: 
So let me summarise; Someone who makes their living from what many say is a corrupt and unjust system, believes that the Honourable John Hemming MP is giving "Dangerous Advice"?  First of all it's interesting to note, that much of the dysfunction, corruption and miscarriages of justice that have occurred in your workplace, were exposed by Mr Hemming himself. Such scandals as;
The Italian tourist about to leave the UK when she suffered a panic attack because she didn't take her medication for fear that she would harm her unborn baby. The UK had 3 months to send her back to Italy but chose instead to cut her open and remove the baby 6 weeks early. The incident sent shockwaves around the world.
Or the EDL mother who "may" (or may not) harm her baby with her political beliefs that she once held as a teenager and no longer holds, she had to flee to Ireland along with her husband, a serviceman in the military who was also deemed unfit to look after his daughter as he has served in Afghanistan.
Fran Lyon, who fled the UK after she received a letter from a social worker she had never met and who knew nothing about her, stating that her baby would be removed at birth and adopted, she fled to Ireland where social services had no issues and continues to live happily with her daughter.
Mark & Nicky Webster, whose child was misdiagnosed as abused and lost 3 children to forced adoption even though vindicated by the criminal courts. Even after the vindication, were pursued to Ireland where they had fled to keep their fourth child...
And the excuse for the growing industry is that more children are "Protected", in what way exactly?
- 50% of prostitutes have been in "Care"
 - 50% of Young Offenders have been in "Care"
- 80% of Big Issue sellers have been in "Care"
- 50% of girls in "Care" are mothers within 2 years if they don't already have children and are then 66 TIMES more likely to have their children removed and placed in "Care".
- A child in "Care" is 3 times more likely to die that children in the general population and 6 times more likely to be sexually assaulted. And these are just the official Government statistics.
You have to wonder how people can decry the sins of the past as seen in movies like "Oranges & Sunshine", "Philomena" and "Magdalene Laundries" when these injustices continue today on a far larger scale than occurred years ago. You also have to wonder how people in the future will view the corrupt, unjust courts of today. I believe John Hemming's legacy will be that he was right all along.
 http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/family-lawyer-criticises-mps-dangerous-advice/5039374.article

MORE INFORMATION INCLUDING PANORAMA PROGRAMME HERE

Friday, 17 January 2014

Philomena

An article in the Independent refers to the film Philomena which portrays the life of Philomena Lee who campaigned against forced adoptions in Ireland which young women out of wedlock were pressured into by the Catholic Church.

One woman comments on the article:
I an adoptee taken from my birth mother at birth in Ireland was horrific. My birth mom was transferred to "repent for sins" in laundries a few weeks after my birth. I was left behind where she birthed me and then sold when I was nearing 5 years old to USA family. I was told right off and knew I was a stranger in a new world at that age. I looked and talked different than any "new family members" and of course being locked up for almost 5 years fed soup and bread and in a 1 frock everyday I was lost and had a hard time adjusting. All the love and care from new family couldn't take away the "digging" in my heart for years that "I don't think I belong here or am wanted here".
The nuns told my new parents that I was abandoned by my birth mom and left at doorstep of convent but in good health". My parents just wanted a companion for there biological daughter and I was the "little package they got for a fee". They got there money and I had years and years of trying to figure out who the heck I was. I had issues and fears and insecurities no little girl should have or carry for most of her life. The Irish government denied my existence--would not give me any birth certificate or where abouts of family or health history for over 18 years. I finally through great lengths and many barriers got my birth mothers name and a wonderful link on internet found my birth mother within a year and I was reunited in 2002 with birth mom and large family that even looked like me.
 I received health history and story from my birth mother of how it broke her heart that I was taken away from her. Her heart was broken and she had to tell clergy she would never contact me or seek me out for as long as she lived. My birth mother also believed the clergy when they told her "you have been a disgrace to the church and to your family and no one wants you and you best stay with us and work off your sins". My mother was locked up in laundries for 43 years. Got out in 1993 after years of my family begging her to get out but she felt to ashamed to leave the institution. I was reunited with her and my family embraced me and still does with much love and care. My birth mom passed in 2009 and like the clergy wanted her torture and hard labor for them will go unspoken by her--for they died with her. But the church lost there demand that we not meet. Through perseverance and help with adoption link on computer I was having tea and hugging my mom for many years before her death. I saw her 2-3 times a year for 7 years and was with her when she got ill and was with her when she passed. She will forever be in my heart. For she is truly a part of my heart. No one can take that away from me ever.
http://www.independent.ie/opinion/susan-lohan-philomena-cheered-by-stars-while-the-state-turns-deaf-ear-29923045.html

More about Philomena Lee and her campaign to have secret adoption files released is recounted in the BBC article HERE

State Guardian for every child in Scotland is unlawful

 top-lawyer-snps-state-guardian-for-kids-unlawful From the Christian Institute


A top human rights lawyer has said the SNP’s plans to appoint a state guardian for every child under 18 “may be unlawful”.
Under Alex Salmond’s Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill 2013, children will have a “named person”- a state employee – who will monitor them and have powers that “cut across” the rights of their parents.

QC Aidan O’Neill said the SNP’s plans amounted to “unjustified interference” and may fail to protect people from “arbitrary and oppressive” governmental powers.

Startling

What is “startling” about the proposal “is that it appears to be predicated on the idea that the proper primary relationship that children will have for their well-being and development, nurturing and education is with the State rather than within their families and with their parents”, he added.

He explained that the scheme may not be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which says the State should respect “private and family life”.
O’Neill also described the Bill as “universal in scope” and said the “blanket” provisions allow the State to assign a guardian without assessing a child’s individual need.

 Read More

Three year old dies at nursery

A little girl at a nursery went out to play on a slide, unsupervised, for twenty minutes. When she was later discovered she was found with a rope around her neck.

 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Mobile phone surveillance


Glasgow City Council boast that they will not be installing biometric technologies in schools although it is being used in Renfrewshire.

However it has come to the attention of parents in Glasgow that secondary pupils have been told that their mobile phones may be confiscated and teachers are allowed to examine their emails, texts and so on. On being informed that this is a breach of children`s right to privacy, one pupil protested and said that visitors to the school had explained to them that the rules had been changed.

These children are being lied to, if that is the case. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) gives children the right to privacy. Article 8 of the ECHR also gives children a right to a private and family life. However, there is no doubt that the Scottish Government is taking this away by stealth.

A report by Amnesty International on Scottish public authorities in September 2006 revealed that 65.5% of those surveyed either did not understand their duties under the Human Rights Act 1998 or could not provide evidence of steps taken to comply with those duties.  It should be noted that the law applies regardless of who is delivering the services. Seven years later and it seems teachers still do not understand children have human rights.
See `Our Kingdom Power & liberty in Britain` - Scotland`s secret files: a two part espose of the Scottish database state
http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/kenneth-roy/scotlands-secret-files-two-part-expose-of-scottish-database-state

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Perth and Kinross Survey

Perth and Kinross council in collaboration with the Social Research Unit in Dartington conducted a survey at local schools in 2013. There has been much controversy about the nature of the intimate questions that schoolchildren were expected to answer and the fact that parents were not informed in advance about the questions. Neither were parents expected to actively give their consent. Failure to respond to the letter from the council was deemed to be sufficient.

Highland Perthshire News has summarised articles covering the topic which appeared in the Scottish Review.

http://www.highlandperthshirenews.co.uk/general-news-main/evidence2suppress

The questions asked implied a very negative view of how schoolchildren were living their lives. Some examples: Did they feel their life worthwhile? (9 year olds) Did they carry a knife to school? When was the last time they had anal sex? (14 year olds)

Responding to criticisms, Tim Hobbs, principal investigator at the Social Research Unit asserted that children themselves were considered to be the primary focus of informed consent. The Scottish Review article points out that because children are a vulnerable group parents have a responsibility to protect them and should have been given the opportunity to do so.

The Scottish Review articles can be found here:

http://www.scottishreview.net/KennethRoy134.shtml

http://www.scottishreview.net/KennethRoy136A.shtml

http://www.scottishreview.net/KennethRoy136B.shtml


Following Tim Hobbs rebuttal there have been a number of comments in this year`s Scottish Review.

http://www.scottishreview.net/TheCafe141.shtml

Penalties for Family Holidays during term time

Head teachers in England at one time were able to grant up to 10 days leave a year for family holidays in `special circumstances.` The rules have been changed since 1 September 2013 and holidays during term time can now only be granted in `exceptional cases.`Section 444 of the Education Act 1996.


A couple who took their children out of school so they could have their first family holiday in five years risk being jailed after refusing to pay fines introduced under controversial new laws.
Stewart and Natasha Sutherland will appear before Telford Magistrates' Court tomorrow after they took their three children to the Greek island of Rhodes during the school term.
The couple were given an initial fine of £360 after the family of five went away for seven days at the end of September, but were unwilling to pay.
The penalty then doubled to £720 because they did not pay the fee within 21 days.

Kay Burford, attendance support team leader for Telford & Wrekin Council said: "Our policy supports new legislation which makes it clear that head teachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances."
 

Parents in England and Wales who fail to ensure their children attend school regularly may be issued with penalty notices from the local authority. It has been pointed out by Roger Hayes of the British Constitution Group that penalty notices are a matter for the courts to issue but proper procedures are often ignored.

What is clear is that the assessment of what is best for their children is more and more being taken away from parents.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2539378/Couple-took-children-school-weeks-holiday-Rhodes-face-jail-refusing-pay-fines.html

Cuts in housing benefit for under 25s will affect 20 000 children

How is George Osborne going to cut a further £12 billion from welfare? One way is to remove housing benefit for anybody under 25 years old. Obviously the cabinet think-tanks have not worked out the impact of this policy on children. With fewer people having spare bedrooms there would be difficulty housing some young families.


Analysis of figures obtained from the Department of Work and Pensions reveal that there are 20,059 children in the 32,700 households in Scotland who would be hit if the benefit was stopped.
Following the analysis, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to Iain Duncan Smith to set out the implications for Scotland and request a meeting to discuss any proposals.
“My main concern is the risk that this cut would pose to the 20,000 children who would need to be rehoused and would face the prospect of being made homeless.

http://news.stv.tv/scotland/260021-over-20000-children-affected-if-housing-benefit-cut-for-under-25s/

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Surveillance in Schools

Should schools be preparing pupils passively for the surveillance society by introducing biometric systems into schools or should they be taking the opportunity to draw pupils into a critical debate about it?

Keeping Track of Caitlin: Schools and Surveillance - a scenario for 2017

It is not inconceivable that in the near future a secondary school pupil somewhere in the UK – let’s call her Caitlin, aged 16 - might register their arrival at school by passing a radio frequency identification (RFID) chipped card across a scanner at the entrance to the main building, having already been filmed by CCTV cameras coming through the school gate. An autotext is sent to her mother’s mobile phone, letting her know Caitlin has arrived. Internal CCTV
cameras follow her down the main corridor - images are recorded digitally for security purposes; no one is actually watching in ‘real-time’. She arrives at her first class, where she hands in written work on a CD, to be scanned by plagiarism software.


Later in the morning she takes two books out of the library, using a fingerprint scanner installed several years before the RFID registration system was introduced (otherwise the same card could be used in the library). Unknown to her, or to any pupil, the senior school administrator takes five minutes to do an ‘online headcount’ just before lunch - the position of every chipped identity card on site (and the person assumed to be carrying it) is graphically displayed on a screen in his office, colour-coded to show if any pupil is not in the classroom they are supposed to be in at that time of the day. All seems well, but the movement sensors installed in the school lavatories - so much less intrusive than webcams - indicate that two pupils have remained there for longer than might be considered necessary.

At 1pm Caitlin does use her RFID card on the canteen scanner to debit her lunch account. In the afternoon she travels to a further education college, entering the premises using a fingerprint registration system because the college has not yet upgraded to an RFID system, despite being twinned with her school. She logs on to her college computer using the same fingerprint scanning
system, grateful that she does not have to remember a password, as (she has been told) pupils did in the old days. Between classes she is invited to join a cluster of pupils as they walk through a police-manned ‘search arch’, recently installed in the college to deter knife-carrying after a ‘serious incident’ outside the college gates. At the end of the school day she leaves the building, deregistering
her presence there using the fingerprint scanner.


At home, fifteen minutes later, Caitlin’s mother goes online to check her daughter’s whereabouts by locating her GPS-enabled mobile phone, using the latest ‘kidtracka’ software. She assures herself that her daughter is on the way home, glad that she does not have to raise her daughter’s anxiety by actually phoning her. She wishes that the college had an autotext system which notified
her phone when Caitlin ‘clocked-out’, just as the school’s registration system did when she ‘clocked-in’ in the morning. She still worried that Caitlin would lose her RFID card, and preferred the scanning system at her younger son’s primary school, where the RFID chip was sensibly sewn into the lapel of his blazer, unlosable.
She remembers that she has a letter from the school, inviting her to a PTA meeting to discuss the implications of their latest privacy impact assessment, but she knows she will be too busy to go. She is confident that
there will be no problems with it, and that the minority of parents who always seem to criticise the safeguarding systems will not get their way. She is happy that in an uncertain world her children are so well looked after by their schools.

http://www.scotedreview.org.uk/pdf/292.pdf

Academy chains have paid millions of pounds into private businesses

"Academies receive the same level of per-pupil funding as they would receive from the local authority as a maintained school, plus additions to cover the services that are no longer provided for them by the local authority. However, academies have greater freedom over how they use their budgets to best benefit their students."

"Academies receive their funding directly from the Education Funding Agency (EFA) rather than from local authorities." DfE

Freedom of information requests show that taxpayer-funded academy chains have paid millions of pounds into the private businesses of their directors, trustees and relatives.
The payments have been made for a wide range of services including consultancy fees, curriculums, IT advice and equipment, travel, expenses and legal services by at least nine academy chains.
Critics fear that the Department for Education (DfE) is not closely monitoring the circulation of public money from academies to private firms.
While defending their use of public money, one trustee of an academy chain has called for increased scrutiny of their spending. Another said a director had resigned from the trust because of fears over a conflict of interest.
Grace Academy, which runs three schools in the Midlands and was set up by the Tory donor Lord Edmiston, has paid more than £1m either directly to or through companies owned or controlled by Edmiston, trustees' relatives and to members of the board of trustees.
Payments include £533,789 to International Motors Limited, a company owned by Edmiston, and £4,253 to Subaru UK Ltd, where he is the ultimate controlling party. More than £173,000 was also paid to the charities Grace Foundation and Christian Vision, both of which were set up by Edmiston. In addition, £108,816 has been paid to a company controlled by the son-in-law of one trustee.
Grace Academy also employs Gary Spicer, the brother of Lady Edmiston, as its executive director, on a salary of £30,000 plus pension. Spicer's own company received more than £367,732 from Grace Academy over the last six years for consultancy work.
Since 2010 more than 3,444 schools – including more than half of secondary schools – have taken on academy or free school status. Payments to businesses in which academy's trustees have a beneficial interest are allowed if the trust has fully complied with its procedures and conditions set out in the trust's articles of association. Before July 2010, the Charities Commission oversaw the governance of academies, but this was switched to the DfE in August 2011.
http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/jan/12/taxpayer-funded-academy-paying-millions-private-firms-schools-education-revealed-education
Another academy is reported to have been investigated by the Education Funding Agency because the school had obtained funding which it did not use for its intended purpose.


Kings Science Academy - which boasts Tory vice chair, Alan Lewis, as its executive patron - was among the first wave of free schools. It was visited and praised by Prime Minister, David Cameron, in 2012. 
It charged for first class travel, parties, buying furniture for staff and allegedly submitted ‘fabricated invoices’ to the Department for Education for rent it did not actually pay.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2536895/Free-school-head-arrested-Teacher-one-open-flagship-Coalition-education-policy.html

Monday, 13 January 2014

Historical abuse in Ireland

The Scotsman has reported that: Public hearings into allegations of historical child abuse in church and state-run homes in Northern Ireland will begin later today.
An inquiry headed by a former senior judge is examining the extent of wrongdoing in children’s homes, orphanages, industrial schools, workhouses, borstals, hospital units and schools for young people with disabilities. Many were run by religious orders which at the time largely evaded scrutiny.
Sir Anthony Hart’s probe was ordered by Northern Ireland’s ministerial executive after the problem was found to be endemic across similar institutions in the Republic of Ireland and claims of mistreatment of victims north of the border.
The expert panel will investigate whether sexual, emotional or physical harm was inflicted upon children and if there were systemic failings by institutions or the state in their duties towards children in their care between 1922 and 1995.
More than 300 witnesses from Northern Ireland, Australia, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain are expected to give evidence.
Two Londonderry homes run by Sisters of Nazareth nuns will be the focus of early inquiry sessions, St Joseph’s at Termonbacca and Nazareth House on Bishop Street.
Chairman Sir Anthony is expected to give an opening address today, followed by a general overview of the questions and issues to be addressed from legal counsel to the inquiry Christine Smith QC, which is expected to last until Wednesday.
The inquiry is likely to hear evidence from more than 300 witnesses. Most will give evidence in person, although some may only submit a written statement.
http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/northern-ireland-child-abuse-inquiry-begins-1-3266493

Cryil Smith MP Lib Dem

Like so many other investigations into the abuse of children it has taken more than twenty years to get to the stage where there will be an inquiry. Victims have grown up, commited suicide, ruined their lives, or remained determined to find justice. Why does an inquiry like this take so long?

Why did the Jimmy Saville abuses go on for fifty years?

There`s got to be an answer but by dragging their feet it looks like the establishment does not want the public to know what that is.

Update HERE