When I was a child, there was an advertisement, or rather a warning to children, not to go off with a stranger, whatever he said. It finished with a child clutching an ice cream cone, then dropping it in terror. I’ll never be free of the sight or feeling – I’ve never told anyone this before, of course – and it scared and horrified me then and now.
I was about the age of some of the victims of the Moors murderers, Brady and Hindley. They made a lasting impression too.
I have had to go to school Safeguarding training on several occasions and the same awful stories are always brought up: Lauren, Jasmine, Peter, Holly and Jessica and the other little children who were murdered. That any lessons to be learned are irrelevant to a governor of a secondary school, who needs to know – far more pertinently – about harm done to teenagers means nothing, I have to listen to the failings of social services and sometimes of schools and the wickedness of parents, step-parents or psycopaths, all directed at small children. I’m due to do the training again and I really don’t want to. I doubt that the awful revelations about vulnerable teenage girls forced into prostitution will be mentioned at all, though I don’t remember their schools being referred to critically. If a previously good student starts to show signs of stress, rebellion, lack of progress; we take it seriously, contact the parents, offer help and look for a possible cause. If anything goes awry with a small child, the school is looked at and criticised if nothing was done to help, but the pastoral role of a secondary school is overlooked by the pundits, yet that’s sometimes the most likely source of help for an ill-treated teenager, or it should be. Even if a child has always been troubled, help and support should be given and the parents included in that.
Once one is a parent, one never loses the feeling of protectiveness or an underlying anxiety about the safety of the family. As they grow up, get life partners and children, one’s mental protecting shield just keeps on growing to cover them all, or one hopes to.
I’ve had Hadrian here for the day and I’ve several emails that should be answered, but they will have to wait until the morning. I’m off to bed early, didn’t sleep last night. On the other hand, I’ve listened to a lot of good radio. Goodnight, darlings.