The reports of Filicide, the murder by a mother of her child, are all over the news this week.
Baby P, Daniel Pelka, Hamzah Khan, Keanu Williams being just four names that are engraved upon our consciousness, not just because of their untimely deaths, but because of the nature of the suffering inflicted upon them before they died.
Collective handwringing is in evidence up and down the land and who is to blame is being widely discussed. The sight of the Head of Birmingham Children’s Safeguarding Board attempting to squirm out of the reality of her responsibility for allowing yet another death of a child to happen on her watch, was excrutiating on the BBC news last night. Her words, in a statement released this week scream out the reality of why children are dying.
‘I wish, on behalf of all the statutory agencies who sit on the Board to express very deep regret and distress about Keanu’s death. We apologise unequivocally for what were totally unacceptable and unnecessary failures both collectively and individually in every organisation which had contact with Keanu. We fully accept all the findings of the Serious Case Review and the recommendations made.
Keanu died because there was failure across every agency to see, hear and respond to him in the context of what he was experiencing at any one point in time. Staff were distracted by his mother’s needs and by taking what she was telling them at face value.’
Staff were distracted by his mother’s needs and by taking what she was telling them at face value. In other words, a systemic use of gender biased practice which focuses practitioners not on the needs of children, but on the rights and needs of women. If ever there was proof needed that social work and our children and family services are, as a very senior social worker said recently, a ‘feminist industry’, this is it. Gender biased family services, upholding the rights and needs of women above those of children, are killing those children in a neighborhood near you and until we name it, we are never going to stop it.
I have been watching the terrible stories about children being murdered with an enormous sadness as well as a growing rage about what is being said and done about these tragedies. On the twittersphere, the debate about these women rages from sympathy for the ‘vulnerable women’ that they are analysed to be by domestic violence workers to the ‘evil bitches’ they are considered to be by some in the men’s rights movement. In between, the reality that anyone, be it mother or father, who murders a child and leaves his body to rot in a bedroom, is frankly, seriously ill and dangerous not only to children but to their own self and others, appears to be missed. Much like the dad who takes his children and murders them in a country lane by poisoning them with carbon monoxide, these people are unwell and need to be a) recognised and spotted quickly and b) removed from society for their own and other people’s safety.
Not in the feminist industry of social work, family services and domestic violence it seems. In this land, mothers who kill their children are not responsible, must have done it because a man has made them and most of all are vulnerable and in desperate need of support. Whilst I have no doubt that a woman who leaves her child’s body to rot, or who beats her child so badly that even she is surprised he is not taken into care, are doing so because something in their psychology has snapped, I do not consider that their needs and their psychological state comes before that of the child that they murder. Somewhere, somehow, the feminist industry of children and family services has got its priorities very very badly wrong. Surely, as the strapline goes, we should be ‘putting children first?’ Not in Birmingham it seems, or any of the other Local Authorities whose Social Service departments have presided over gender biased services which allow women to kill children because of the belief that wherever there is violence there has to be a man somewhere.
NSPCC stats demonstrate over and over again that mothers kill their children in equal numbers to dads, though to watch the NSPCC spokesman wriggling in discomfort at the reality of that was an eye opener on the BBC news last night. The truth is that no-one, anywhere, (apart from Erin Pizzey) appears to want to acknowledge or face the reality that women are violent and can and do harm others, including their own children just as men are violent and can and do harm others, including their own children. Where men and women are harming each other as well as their own children, it is likely to be the result of intergenerational family violence, the kind which involves physical harm done by parents to children as part of violent world. Cycles of violence which are about mothers as well as fathers being dangerous and mothers as well as fathers being in need of intervention to break the cycle and teach new, non violent responses to the stresses and strains of daily life. When practitioners come to their work equipped with that kind of knowledge and experience they will stop looking at meeting the needs of women BEFORE children and will start to understand that children are vulnerable in the care of their mothers, whether or not there is a man around or domestic violence is an issue.
Gender biased family services kill kids by working from the feminist perspective of seeing a woman who is vulnerable instead of a woman who is dangerous to her children. Gender biased family services kill kids by refusing to look the reality in the face, that mothers can and do kill their children and intervention to prevent it starts with believing it. Gender biased services kill kids because they spend too much time looking for a man to blame and seeing domestic violence as the root cause of all dangers to children.
The children who die at the hands of their mothers are the vulnerable ones, not the other way around and we should be acting to support them first before we analyse and excuse maternal responsibility. I have no doubt whatsoever that women, like men who kill their children, need an awful lot of work doing to reverse the impact of being so divorced from their own humanity, that they can act without thinking and often without remorse. Alice Miller, who wrote widely about intergenerational child abuse was unequivocal about the impact of abuse on children and she recognised and named the reality; kids who are abused are at risk of going on to abuse in their own adult lives if we do not offer the kind of support and intervention that stops it.
That is where our time and money must go, to prevent kids from from being murdered and abused by women as well as men. And we must do it through gender aware services that recognise the danger that they are in from either or both of their parents.
Only by doing so will we stop the institutionalised murder of another generation of children by a feminist industry which puts the rights and needs of women first and children a long way last.