|Every Child Matters
Waking up one mid-November morning to the BBC Radio 4 news headline of the failings of Birmingham's statutory Children's Services made a depressing start to the day. Every story of an abused child is appalling. Even one child damaged, injured or killed in 'the largest local Authority in Europe' is one too many.
As we open our hearts and minds again to the revelation of God in a vulnerable new baby born in a borrowed room in a strange village to a young mother we can see that it is possible to show love and care in very difficult circumstances. Mary and Joseph coped with the uncertainty and eventually settled and flourished.
This is the natural hope and expectation of all who bring children into the world, the vast majority of whom seek and receive practical and emotional support from family, friends, and skilled assistants.
The great challenge, in a 21st C city of over a million people, is to identify those children who are at risk because the attention they receive is inadequate or downright dangerous.
Our crisis is an unholy mix of fragmentation in social patterns, parental breakdown and the delegation of neighbourly responsibilities to statutory intervention alone.
Health, Social and Economic care for families with complex needs is the subject of much research and insight. Having an adequate number of resourced professionals and volunteers to help those caring for children move from dependency to flourishing freedom is vital.
Nonetheless if we believe the slogan 'Every Child Matters' then the reduction of risk to an acceptable level of the ordinary adventures of growing up is the urgent duty of everyone in each community.
One of the main priorities of Giving Hope Changing Lives, Birmingham's social inclusion process, is Children and Families. Our Report engages with a wide range of related issues, from employment and health, to debt management, education and training. The Children's Society and other partners are taking more responsibility in helping Peter Hay and colleagues in their leadership of change and improvement.
This Christmas let us all commit to ending the risk of child abuse in our city, and at the same time build up our skills and support in parenting and child care. We celebrate the love, compassion and care that gives children the best start and every opportunity to develop their personalities and talents.
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