Saturday, April 21, 2007


There is an appalling story here about some people who thought it either right or amusing to 'toughen up' their toddlers by encouraging them to fight each other. As a father and a grandfather I found the article hard to take, and I decided that I could not bear to re-read it before writing this.
The offence speaks for itself. Because of my involvement in the system I tried to put myself in the shoes of the judge who had to sentence the case. Anyone with a dash of humanity would feel their hearts go out to the children involved - there can be few more emotional issues than this one - but the judge had to look at the whole case in the round, taking account of the fact that the abused children are now under the surveillance and protection (for all its faults and inadequacies) of the authorities, and that the offences seemed to stem more from callousness and stupidity than anything else. Of course to many people prison is the only proper response to these awful events, but the judge has to factor in the potential harm involved in locking up people who are themselves carers for children. For the future the most important thing is to supervise the upbringing of these children while bearing in mind that a poor family is invariably less harmful than a good institution. Revenge will have to be left to a higher authority than one of Her Majesty's judges.

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