Friday, 5 June 2015

CHARGE THEM. IF GUILTY, SACK THEM,

Would that it were so easy...

This is as distressing an account of unthinking institutional inhumanity as you are likely to find, even in the United Kingdom where we have a long history of such Jobsworthery ready to pounce from below a thin surface of self-serving hypocrisy. Click here and read it in full:


This was written as a guest posting on the blog Special Needs Jungle, by an unnamed mother from the County of Kent ('the garden of England'). When her posting was notified on Conductive World's Facebook it prompted a flurry of indignant disgust, mainly but not wholly as far as can be seen, from fellow parents in England. Indignant disgust, but not incrededulity:


Norman Perrin, with long, hard experience of bringing up a young disabled adult was among the first of these:
I'd sack everyone who had anything to do with it.
But let us be fair. The posting offers the experience and viewpoint of only of one side of a transaction between on the one hand a mother and on the other the local authority and the school. What we we read is a powerful allegation of mindless and cruel bureaucracy – but there has been no investigation, no charge, and no finding of guilt. But why not?

Somebody has been seriously hurt. Many might regard what that has happened to this child as a crime, as serious as many other offences that nowadays create major public outrage under the broad rubric of 'child abuse'. But what accusation to invoke against the authorities and staff involved?  Child abuse, neglect, maladministration, misconduct in public office...? Some of these might apply here, perhaps other offences might be applied. But which ones? Alleged wrong-doers in the public service deserve due process as much as does this wronged child and her family.

One has heard so much sickening, sanctimonious twaddle over the course of the recent General Election about the 'most vulnerable in our society, often perhaps from those with no idea of what really constitutes the existential extremes of human vulnerability. Some children live at all only through the supreme personal commitment and effort of their families whose unceasing struggle with physical reality is beyond mere admiration. If this struggle is made harder still by having simultaneously to fight a second front against the obduracy of services whose costly function is supposedly to enhance their existence, and provided solely on the public purse... what are our politicians for?

Whatever happened here happened in Kent. There is doubtless a range in competence and common humanity amongst local authorities in this as in other sectors, and correspondingly a postcode lottery in public-sector iatrogenesis. The organisational level of schools and local authorities does not exist in splendid isolation. It is systemically locked in with what occurs at other levels such as elected representatives, professional training, relevant academe, central government and its policies... and where is Ofsted in all this? That the whole system may be dysfunctunal does not exculpate individuals within it and, contrarily, weeding out pernicious 'bad apples' will not make everything alright. Nor has the recent (officially) vaunted legislation done anything to address problems at this level. If anything, as the particular human situation under consideration here demonstrates, it may have made it possible for things to be even worse. What a complex mare's nest we do pay for.

Perish the thought that nobody with a pretense to authority cares a damn. And even when society wakes up to  scandal – such as in the well-trodden paths of child abuse – that we should expect too much in the way of real accountability for our street-level bureaucrats. Witness some extraordinary Teflon careers in child protection.

Right on, Norman, come the day. Meanwhile, what's to be done about righting whatever went wrong in Kent, and snuffing out further such tawdry practice in the future? The lack of resources here is not primarily financial, perhaps not financial at all, but poverty of intellect and paucity of moral worth, too great a lack of moral fibre, too much sheer shamelessness

Well, what's to do...? Waking up to and acknowledging some of the things fundamentally wrong with how our society responds to 'special educational needs and disability' would seem a small but absolutely essential first step, without which...


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