Editorial | Where was Big Mother when abused kids needed her?

And whatever you do, you're not wearing that hat! (photo: Christian Als)
January 19th, 2012 8:34 am| by admin
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

We have social workers in a welfare state for a reason: to help those who need help. But when gross violations of people’s rights occur – as were revealed this week in the cases of enslaved Romanians in Helsingør and a group of severely abused children in the northern Jutland town of Skørping – it calls into question whether our social contract with Big Mother is worth its high price.

In the welfare state, we trust that the extensive, professional corps of social workers can serve as the first responders once abuse has been exposed. But a more urgent responsibility is to interpret the information passed on to them by teachers, doctors and neighbours in order to stop abuse before it gets out of hand. For the average member of a community, the busy-bodyÂ’s tattling might just be gossip, but for the social worker it could corroborate the concerns of a teacher or a coach.

In cases where social workers have all the pieces before them, yet abuse continues for years – as appears to have been the situation in Skørping, as well as the town of Brønderslev, where a man was convicted of similar abuse in December – then it’s time to take a step back and find out whether these are isolated incidents of professional incompetence or whether social workers lack the will or the tools to take action.

In the Skørping abuse case, the system apparently got off to a good start: local authorities were reportedly aware that the family fit the pattern for an abusive family. That was in 2005 (or 2006, they aren’t quite sure when). The alleged abuse continued for another five years.

Someone obviously didn’t do their job in the intervening years. Pleading its defence, the council argued that one of its reasons for not putting the kids into foster care – despite the children’s school and others expressing concern – was its lack of evidence.

Social welfare officials, though, were apparently concerned enough that they asked the police to step in on multiple occasions.

Describing their own inability to help the nine children that were allegedly abused over a 16-year period, the police said “they did what they could” and described their collaboration with council authorities on the case as “exceptional”.

If this is a prime example of how the welfare state should work, then God help any child out there who is suffering at the hands of an adult – because it looks like their Big Mother can’t.

(photo: Txssy)
Early-May music: One Direction’s favourite rockers
5 Seconds of Summer Tue May 12, 20:00; Forum; 390kr 5 Seconds a Summer ...
It's not a cakewalk being a hedgehog these days (photo: Helen Dyrbye)
Kids Corner: Spiking some interest for Hedgehog Awareness Week
No more hedgehogs by 2025 – in Britain that is. That’s what I heard rec...
Flex with Becks
Flex with Becks Week 5: pushed to the limit, pulling out all the stops
It’s when you have to crawl up the stairs the day after that you know you...
photo: iStock
Brian’s Brainteaser
Win entry for a team of five to the fortnightly Globe Quiz plus a pitcher o...
(photo: Ordrupgaard)
Museums Corner: Marriage: inspiring exhibitionists, and now exhibitions
While the popularity of the traditional marriage is in decline, themed wedd...
Picknicking under the cherry-blossom (photo: Bev Lloyd Roberts)
Out and About: Sakura’s trees mark ten years in style
The cherry-blossom at Langelinie Park was in full splendour to celebrate th...