‘Prevent’, ‘Safeguarding’, ‘Early Intervention’, ‘Child Obesity Intervention’ are but some of the UK Government’s action plans that charge public servants with looking out for the myriad of warning signs in our nation’s youth population.
But how much reliance is society placing on our over-stretched public sector in order to prevent our young from becoming fat jihadists who struggle at school and have a penchant for burgers? Who is responsible for our kids?
Whilst the general public bemoans the mistakes of social workers, teachers, healthcare professionals and others; and as the media contentedly rolls out the latest guffaw over how a pupil’s use of the phrase ‘eco-terrorism’ results in a chat with Special Branch – or worst still when an ‘avoidable tragedy’ is laid bare for all to see – at what point do parents and guardians step up to the plate and accept some responsibility?
‘If my kids become radicalised; it’s my fault – I haven’t talked to them enough.’
‘If my kids become fat; it’s my fault – I haven’t managed their diet or healthcare well enough.’
‘If my kids are rude and arrogant; it’s my fault – I haven’t brought them up to be polite and respectful.’
‘If my kids fail at school; it’s my fault – I haven’t impressed upon them the importance of education.’
‘If my kids break the law; it’s my fault – I haven’t taught them virtue, morality and respect for others.’
‘If my kids become embroiled in a ‘sexting’ scandal; it’s my fault – I haven’t taken the time to discuss the perils of social media with them, or the importance of respect and consent.’
‘If my kids don’t turn out to be rounded individuals (balanced – not body shape) then it isn’t the fault of teachers, nurses, police constables, vicars, imams, phone companies, internet service providers or agony aunts – its mine.’
Whilst government interventions are of value, they must be a second or third line of defence; the first line of defence rests with parents (mums, dads, grandparents, foster parents, social workers, carers and extended families).
This is a utopian vision I know – and many kids out there don’t have the support of a traditional modular family; but I’d rather see tax payers’ money invested in mentoring programmes – not ‘interventions’ based on sound-bites for the media.
How would you ensure all children receive these vital conversations as they grow? Who should facilitate them? Perhaps you have a different view on intervention programmes.