On the subject of children

This week has been very much about children: the sickening revelations of the abuse Baby P suffered at the hands of adults, the babies stabbed to death by their crazed Mother, the heart-wrenching pleas for help on Children in Need night. All of this has left me deeply uneasy, and helpless. Despite doing my bit cash-wise for Children in Need, I felt that I would probably be far more useful if I were to be practical.

I have already begun the process of applying to become a Samaritan’s counsellor, a service that still acts as a very practical port in often a torrid storm; and I was looking for a children’s charity that was established, well-respected and perhaps mainly ignored as it has become so much a part of society that we no longer see it as charity, but a service (and that takes care of that little piece of community guilt).

Spookily, I was asked by Barnado’s if I would like to come to hear their CEO speak about their latest work and campaign: Children in trouble. I had found my other way of helping.

Baby P to Teenage P

Equally as bizarre, I had been thinking about the outrage and out-pouring of sympathy and grief over Baby P and wondering at what point this becomes hatred for the teenager Baby P was sure to become. Therefore the following film not only rocked me to the core, but destroyed any belief I had that I could continue not doing anything about this.

Barnado’s: what it does and why it is important that everyone knows this

Barnardo’s vision is that the lives of all children and young people should be free from poverty, abuse and discrimination. We believe in the abused, the vulnerable, the forgotten and the neglected. We will support them, stand up for them and bring out the best in every child. As one of the UK’s leading children’s charities this is our pledge.

Their Children in trouble campaign has come about after an extensive piece of research that clearly relates the state of disaffected youth: boredom, family problems, lack of cash, peer pressure and to a lesser degree drugs and alcohol to the kinds of behaviour we see and judge. It has also proven time and again that early intervention, continued support and tireless work – grunt work, not fun – educating, creating, advising, supporting and generally not giving up, can turn around the lives of these families and children. (I shan’t repeat the stats and research stuff here, but if you like you can download and read the PDFs):

Download the Breaking the cycle report (PDF) published by Barnardo’s

Download a survey conducted amongst Barnardo’s young people (PDF) – just over half of whom have been in trouble – found that most of them thought that young people get into trouble because of boredom and peer pressure.

Mentoring and other stuff I know is happening and successfully

I know that the current trend is mentoring young children. This is a noble and successful thing, but depends entirely on the right people being free and willing to invest the right attention in the child – and also is hugely limited by the fact that by its very nature it requires one adult per child – leaving many children desperate to be mentored, but without enough adults to go around.

This post could not be published without me mentioning the sterling work being done by the mentors for Channel 4’s Battlefront:

Battlefront is a friendly army of 20 young campaigners. We’ve got causes instead of cannons and big ideas instead of bombs, and we’re out to change the world.

I am blessed that my tireless and glorious friend: Michelle Acton-Bond is a mentor on this programme, I have met her mentee: Al, who is as fabulous as she is and I am very excited about their personal campaign to address and prevent cyber-bullying.


I feel as if I want to try to understand more, work harder at my own attitudes and then look to see where my skills, (or even just being an extra person), can be most effective.

I have posted about this because firstly if I do it will force my hand and stop me prevaricating any longer; secondly, I want you all to be aware of the Barnado’s campaign; and finally, perhaps I might trigger something in you lot that would help children around you.

’nuff said

12 responses

  1. Hey Em.

    Very good post and fantastic subject. Great to also raise awareness of Barnado’s. I am running on behalf of them in the London marathon next year and I think they do an amazing job.

    Also, if anyone is interested, there are some great and worthy opportunities to volunteer at the moment and help people that really need it. Crisis are loking for their christmas helpers at the moment.. http://www.crisis.org.uk/page.builder/crisis_christmas2008.html

    M x

  2. Well put Emma.

    Spent the last few days agonising over the plight of Baby P and the evils surrounding his tragic death. You’re right, what if he had survived into his teens, so little hope. Not managed to watch the film clip yet as I have a feeling it would be better to do so in my living room not the office! Will pass on link for Barnardo’s campaign to help raise awareness and think about what I can personally do to assist this fantastic cause.

    C xx

  3. Great work lady!

    Putting our heads up once in a while and looking at what we can change and what we want to change, is the most amazing thing we can do.. Realizing its the children we need to start with is a gift. Doing something actually doing something is how we stand out…

    I will back you 100% of the way and be at your side, front or back in whatever you need. Great, great great post – lets do it, lets change the world!


  4. well done mum that video is horrible I mean just because you see them walking around at night you just decide that they are up to no good i am 11 and in 2 years time i will be a teenager myself and i would hate to be thought of that way, when a child becomes a teenager they are given more responsibility’s and when they take them on we decide t go shoot them !!?? it’s ridiculous I mean when..no IF they do take on drugs that means something is upsetting them so we try and stop that something and they will stop i totally agree with you mummy & MAB lets save the world
    from jess xx

  5. Jess you are amazing… the video does not mean people REALLY shoot kids, obviously, but they SAY things like that. Now get off the computer and go to bed 🙂

    Just kidding, how cool is she?

  6. Wow, what a powerful video, and wow, good on you for becoming a Samaritan counsellor.

    I can’t even bear thinking about this Baby P stuff – likewise Children in Need in any context (which, in spite of not watching, invaded my Sky-plussed QI special in a way I couldn’t ignore) but it’s so important we do.

    The alarming comments on forums etc about children is just as alarming about the parents too. If we don’t try to understand how this could have happened, and how it could happen again (and how it happens *every single day*) then we gain nothing.

    Btw, you might be interested in this project my wife is involved in: http://nabokov.typepad.com/newsblog/2008/11/present-tense-nine-tackles-the-story-of-baby-p.html

  7. Wow, Emma, an inspiring read.

    Last week we spoke about the plight of Baby P during the school run, I believe my comment to you was ” I can’t read about it as it makes me to sad” Now I have to ask myself, am I a selfish person for wanting to bury my head in the sand with issues like this? I think the answer is probably yes, as if everyone does as I have done then more children would be in danger of this appaling abuse. So thank you for pulling my head back out of said sand, and of course I want to do my bit to help, but how?

  8. It took your mind off the fact that we were late for school 🙂 what can we do? Sign up to the campaign, change our attitudes to teenagers and look to our local communities to see if there is anything practical that can be done. It’s a lot… oh and be good to our own kids

  9. A really powerful blog Em. Thank you!

    Late in the day for me to be reading in but it slots in so neatly with all the frustrations I have been blogging about regarding the care system and the leaving care support on offer.

    x x

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