Friday, November 14, 2008

Baby P.

Iain Duncan Smith writing about the Baby P case claims:
A recent US study found that children living with a non-biological adult are 50 times more likely to die from afflicted injuries than those living with their biological parents.
This seems extraordinary. Whilst I was aware that children are at greater risk from step parents than biological ones it is hard to believe that it is on this scale. A lot of child abuse could be prevented simply by discouraging some groups of people from becoming parents, particularly welfare cases who have never had a job and move from one unstable relationship to another.

Yesterday I speculated as to whether the reason the parents weren't being named was because more children were involved, sadly this is the case. Baby P has 4 siblings (or half siblings). I would hope that they are being adopted by a family that has nothing to do with the mother.

Meanwhile the Sun has a report about Haringey's Social Services department which is worth reading:

Baby P’s evil mum was backed by the council’s staff after she gave birth to a girl in March while on remand in jail and demanded access to the tot.

Fearful cops refused — only to be told by one social worker: “She has a human right to see the child. We need to let her bond.”
Words fail me! These aren't the kind of mistakes that could be eliminated with more training or better procedures, it should be patently obvious that you do not give someone suspected of torturing a baby to death access to another baby.

The Independent reports on a whistle blower who alerted ministers to the failings of Haringey over a year ago.


Update: Regarding IDS's point about the relative dangers of biological parents and a succession of step parents, it is an important point to make because some commentators group the two together and give the impression that it is the nuclear family is dangerous, like Mary Riddell in the Telegraph who writes:

In the popular myth, paedophiles and abductors lurk at every corner. In reality, there never was a golden age of childhood. The demons threatening the young are not evil outsiders but, most often, the fathers and the mothers brought up in dysfunctional families and wreaking the destruction they suffered on their own children.

14 comments:

JuliaM said...

This case is looking more and more like the final straw that's going to break the back of the liberal dogma that's held sway over social service departments for too long.

I hope...

Letters From A Tory said...

It just gets more tragic.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Ah yes, it's a deliberatly misleading statistic. Chance of being killed by a parent or carer in first 15 years of your life is one in ten thousand (within wide margin of error).

So, chance of proper mum or dad killing you is one in fifty thousand, and chance of step mum or step dad killing is one in a thousand or something (let's say). Those are still pretty good odds for kids who live with a step parent - there's a 99.9% chance you'll make to adulthood.

staybryte said...

Sorry juliam but I think you're kidding yourself. :-(

Ross said...

"Those are still pretty good odds for kids who live with a step parent - there's a 99.9% chance you'll make to adulthood."

Yes, but presumably killing a child is the extreme tail end of physical abuse and therefore even ithough killings are very rare* it is reasonable to assume that lesser forms of abuse are similarly concentrated among the same types of family.

* Even this family only managed to kill 20% of their children.

Mark Wadsworth said...

I have redone the figures. On basis of actual figures 12 million kids in the UK, one quarter living with a step parent, 75 infanticides a year, then chances of step parent killing you in any year is 1-in-42,000 and of a parent killing you is 1-in-2.1 million.

IF the 50-to-1 ratio is correct, then out of those 75 deaths, about
70 are by a step parent and 5 by a natural parent. Hmmm.

Ross said...

I don't think the 50 to 1 figure is correct now, because I've just been looking up studies trying to find what IDS is referrring to, and the ones I have seen suggest that the figures are more like 8 to 1. Still a large disparity but not on the scale I previously thought.

Ross said...

Actually the statistics appear to be very unclear with some studies claiming that risk is 'only' 8 times greater whilst other studies estimate that the risk is 77 times greater for children living with an unrelated adult.

JuliaM said...

"Sorry juliam but I think you're kidding yourself."

Yeah, I think it'd be too much to hope for..

But something good should come from this, if only the removal of some of the ghastly idealogues that infest Haringey SS

Mark Wadsworth said...

OK, let's pitch it at a factor of ten. That means if you live with a step parent, there's a 1-in-52,000 that they'll kill you in any year.

As against a 1-in-80,000 chance you'll die in a road accident, so those are still pretty good odds.

James Higham said...

Statistics can do wonderful things.

James G. said...

Well, there is a reason why the wicked stepmother is a well-recognised archetype in stories throughout the world...If you were an evolutionary biologist, you would say that the step-"parent" feels threatened because their genes aren't favoured when the blood parent takes care of their child.

The Yanomano [sic?] Indians in South America are a modern example renowned for making raids on the women of neighbouring tribes, killing all the children, and taking the women with them. I suspect this was probably the norm in our own ancient world, and is probably going to become more the norm as things deteriorate.

(Howard Bloom writes a bit about this in The Lucifer Principle. A darn good book, at that.)

Anonymous said...

But something good should come from this, if only the removal of some of the ghastly idealogues that infest Haringey SS

Replacing them with whom? I don't think people are queueing round the block to be social workers. I can't imagine why that might be.

Ross said...

"Replacing them with whom? I don't think people are queueing round the block to be social workers. "

With the economy the way it is it might be easier to recruit better people right now.