Friday, June 30, 2006

Blogs Against the Children's Database

Read what other bloggers have to say about the UK Children's Database and the related issue of state intrusion into family life. On the evidence below, it is easy to suspect that US bloggers are seeing the situation more clearly than we do here in the UK, where some of us seem to be falling for the line that the database will prevent child abuse (when there is a huge shortfall of social workers) and that the governments targets for our children, ie: that our kids should

* to Be Healthy,* Stay Safe,* Enjoy and Achieve,* Make A Positive Contribution* Have Economic Well Being

will not result in a lowering of the level at which the state imagines that it has a right to intrude into family life.

Over the last few days alone, we have heard of families in the UK being referred to and, very sadly, being investigated by social services for not taking their children on enough field trips, or for not wanting to see a health visitor (this mum already had four kids and was a nurse herself), or for having their curtains closed during the day.

Of course, UK home educators have long suffered the consequences of misunderstandings by neighbours and tittle-tattle that gets reported to the authorities as fact. But it looks to be getting worse because it isn't now a question of leaving families be if they look to be getting by, the various agents of the state must now make sure that our children achieve, that they are enjoying life, that they are making a positive contribution.

And not only has the level of suspicion mandating investigation been lowered, but professionals are now no longer allowed to keep some quite possibly ill-founded suspicion to themselves. Gone are the days when you could imagine that you could confide in your doctor, get the treatment you needed and walk out without further consequences, such as that everyone in the rest of the professional bodies in your area will get to know your business.

My guess is that when people come to understand the consequences of the enforced requirement upon professionals to report concerns, the relationship between the two groups will break down. How many mums, for example, would report their post-natal depression when they realise what implications it is likely have? I say honestly here, if my GP fondly imagines that I will ever talk frankly to him again, he is sadly misguided and I also believe that all parents would be wise to take the precaution of watching what they say in this situation.

And for yet another reason for increasing interference by the state, we have, of course, the database which, if it works, will mean that all home educators will be known about. With such a low bar of suspicion, home education will doubtless work as a prima facie reason for investigation.

There really is no escape. I do mourn the passing of HE as we have known it. My children have thrived on it so far. I watched them last night in the garden as the skies darkened, (near 22.30 and a good enough reason for SS to knock on my door), as they belted round it, getting me to time them, and then around an obstacle course they constructed. They are as brown as nuts, as wiry and fit as cheetahs. Dd runs like the wind. Ds laughed and called her Dash from the Incredibles because her leg speed is just so hysterically fast. He all gangly, perhaps more of a mid-distance runner. They are looking more and more alike all the time as Dd's face unfolds from the terrible battering she got when she tried to get into this world face first. They laughed and mucked about until nearly midnight, and I wouldn't have swapped it for anything.

Ah well, bring on Big Brother. I have clearly just signed away my rights to a private life free from state intrusion, but I will fight them tooth and nail when they get here.

Althouse

Angry Liberal

Arch Rights

Autonomous Source

Bag's Rants

Bettnet.com

The Black Kettle

BlairWatch

Blogdial

Blogging Baby

Blogzilla

Blood and Treasure

Boris Johnson MP

Bring It On

B2Fxxx

The Canadian Privacy Law Blog

Daddytypes.com

Database Masterclass

Dave Hill

David Rowan

The Devil's Kitchen

Donklephant

Finest Kind Clinic and Fish Market

From the Right Side

Ideal Government

Intrusion Protection

IT Law in Ireland

The Last Boy Scout

Longrider

The Moderate Voice

Mother Talkers

Mr Eugenides

Nanny Knows Best

Nobody's Business

No2id

Oh, Crikey!

Orion Hood

Phat Mommy

Philomathean

Political Correctness Watch

Politics in the Zero

Sister Toldjah

Spy Blog

Strange Stuff

Stumbling and Mumbling

Think Mojo

The Thomas Institute

Tim Worstall

Unlimited Jargon

Up Pompeii

A View From England

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

We already have a local database that I was informed my new baby is included on :( Wasn't informed when they added my older two. It includes "school" as an information field http://www.sheffieldsafetynet.gov.uk/whatissafetynet.asp#FAQ1

Carlotta said...

Thanks for the link. It manages to make the whole enterprise look so toothless that it almost makes you wonder what it is all for, but then one remembers what happens when the system kicks in and you find yourself subject to the common assessment framework and all that this entails.

archrights said...

Carlotta, you said: "government has actually denied that it will record whether a child is eating the prescribed amount of fruit and veg,"

For this you need to see the Public Service Agreement targets set for each local authority. these are the performance indicators on which each LA is inspected by the Joint Area Review team.

The direct link is so long that I won't try posting it - go to (http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/aims/outcomes/?asset=document&id=16682) and click on 'A4 Format'. In the first block of 'be healthy' indicators, it's in the 4th block of 'priority national targets'.

LAs are asked to supply the percentage of children eating 5 fruit & veg a day. This information will have to be collected somehow - it's not something that can be worked out from already-held data in the way that, say, the figures for traffic accidents can.

The targets are worth a good look. Some of the data, such as school performance, will already be held. But how about 'take-up of sporting opportunities by 5-16yos' - does that mean a child will be logged every time s/he goes to the local sports centre? You can't work out the actual percentage of children using services just from broad attendance figures, because 20 children playing sport 5 nights a week would give the same result as 100 playing once, and a lot of them might not ever go near the sports centre...

It's interesting to consider the nitty-gritty of how LAs will obtain data necessary to satisfy JAR teams that they are meeting each performance indicator.

Carlotta said...

Thanks ARCH,

Could I post up this comment?

archrights said...

By all means - the more accurate the information that people have the better.

Karen said...

Carlotta,
Thanks for including me on your list. As an American, I don't know that there is anything I can really do, but I certainly wholeheartedly support you in your fight against the Nanny State!

Caesar said...

I think in this modern era where so much data is collected about us all, to expose children to these evils at an age when it is impossible for them to defend themselves or take any precautions is wrong.