Sunday, October 27, 2013

People vs Politics in Child Protection

My reflections on the previous quarter were positioned around the fact that there are real challengers in the child protection field at present. In stark contrast the end of June saw the Forum engaged in a three day Child Protection Conference under the banner of The South African Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (SAPSAC). The theme of the conference was “Back to Basics” and to essential role of the Multi-disciplinary team in child protection. I was called on to assist in developing the programme and briefing the speakers. We had over 300 delegates from all over the country from most disciplines ie. Social work, psychology, medicine, SAPS, prosecutors etc. What struck me was the unwavering commitment by those present to do the correct thing in each of their disciplines to ensure children are protected both from abuse as well as from the potential secondary trauma of exposure to the system itself. The presenters were all given case studies to apply their mind, theory, law and practice to and what became evident is that we have many of the structures, laws, resources etc. in place to manage cases effectively if we work together. The calibre of the presenters was exceptional and it served as a reminder of what is possible if we all meet the child protection week mandate to work together to protect children.

So why then is there such a gap between what is possible and what is!

It appears it is humanity and the fact that we have lost the rage of injustice to the meritocracy of political correctness and replaced the position of people in the forefront of our minds with the print we see on paper. A mouthful indeed, but that too seems to be part of the problem, there is a whole lot of talking, corresponding, meeting etc., and too little work on the issues faced by children directly. We are all too often caught up talking about “the children” and we forget “this child”, we are paralysed by the “best interest” principle and no longer use our common sense to do what is best for children. We have become so professional that we no longer love children, we work with them.

Until we connect with the child we once were, we will forever loose the children that are.

Children remember not what you do for them but what you make them feel.

We want to make a difference and we do, what kind of difference is it?

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