How could it possible get worse? New revelations - "300 children were sexually exploited by gangs in Oxfordshire over 15 years" (the men jailed were ) makes one wonder where else this has been going on. So could it get worse?
Our beloved government is planning to give five year sentences to social workers and teachers who fail to act upon suspicions of child abuse. Let's consider what the effect of that might be.
I try to imagine that I'm a teacher, or social worker. My first impulse, when this legislation comes in, would be to get a job as a programmer. Programmers don't get five years in prison for not doing their job as well as someone else thinks they should. The worst we face is publishing a buggy program, and possibly being fired. But what about people who can't get a different job, or who are imbued with enthusiasm for their vocation as a social worker? What will they do next time they see a child with a bruise? Here's the calculation - fail to report it and you risk five years inside, report it and if it's the result of the usual childhood knocks and bumps, then the likely result is a large waste of time investigating it (and remember, time spent checking into a bruise, is time not spent doing something possibly more important). Which means we'll need more social workers, because they'll be needed to investigate all the suspicions of child abuse.
And, of course, more children will be taken into care.
But care homes are prime stamping grounds for bad people looking for neglected children, because the adult/child ratio in a care home is likely to be much worse than in a parental home.
Or, to put it another way, this proposed new law could wind up making the situation worse. We can only hope that the politicians will think about this, and pour adequate funding into the social services and care homes. Funding that can only come from ... where?