News Views

Adding to the Ennals Annals

Last month we reported Paul Ennals’s knighthood. This month he has been appointed Chair of the Children’s Workforce Development Council, following the untimely death of Mike Leadbetter. It is good news for the CWDC, as Sir Paul is an enthusiast, but level-headed, well connected and well respected, i.e. just the sort of person they need if they are to have the impact they seek, influencing Government, trying to attract the necessary funding in the face of the recession, and needing to motivate and professionalise the workforce. It is a tall order, but if anyone can provide the inspiration Sir Paul Ennals will.

Toni Julia

Most readers of Children Webmag will not have heard of Toni Julia. Top entertainers, sportspeople and politicians are known world-wide, but not child care workers. Toni was a major – and very energetic – figure in the European child care scene, playing a large part in AIEJI. He did much to promote the profession of social education / pedagogy, especially in Spain and in the Spanish-speaking world. He also had a great impact on the children in his care. He died on 17 July 2009 of leukaemia; he will be much missed and remembered by those who knew him.

Stephen Shaw

Stephen Shaw has sent us an email (attached here), arguing in detail about the housing needs of young adults and other homeless people in Cornwall, and requesting support. As we have not checked the story, we are simply drawing readers’ attention to the case he makes.

Certainly the clientele he has served need both housing and support. Given those, they may achieve the stability they need to address other problems and perhaps gain employment. People who have the “three-legged stool” of home, job and social life have a chance of success. Without any one of the three, their chances are seriously diminished. If any reader can advise Stephen Shaw, please respond. If any of the authorities involved wish to reply, we shall be pleased to publish their views.

A Little of What You Fancy Does You Good

That is what they used to say, and certainly young children, left to themselves, will orally test out just about anything which they can get into their mouths. We remember one child who had to be confined in the family car because he had such a penchant for eating sand when he went to the beach. This process may, however, have helped us during childhood to consume small quantities of all sorts of things and so gain immunity against a variety of lurgies and chemicals.

Our bodies contain, use and indeed manufacture a very wide range of chemicals for different purposes, often in very weak dilutions. The chemicals which we take in when downing pills and medical potions, we suspect, are fairly blunt weapons by comparison, which could be the cause of side-effects.

There is still a lot to learn about the way the body copes and how we can best help it. In a recent piece of research Dr Pamela Ewan of Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge has enabled twenty patients who had peanut allergies to take minute quantities and build up the amounts until they can now eat a handful of peanuts. They have found this a liberating experience.

This is good news, but it’s not new news. Mithridates VI of Pontus accustomed himself to drinking small amounts of poison, in case anyone tried to kill him. He eventually died at the age of 71. Unhappily for him, he tried to poison himself and was unsuccessful, as he was immune, and according to Appian he had to ask his bodyguard to finish him off with his sword.

We wish those with peanut allergies a happier outcome.

Cleared to Make Contact

Philip Pullman is one of a number of authors who have objected to the introduction of vetting. He described it as “ludicrous and insulting”. He may be well-known and we certainly have no evidence that he or his fellow-objectors pose any threat to children, but just because they were not vetted in the past does not mean that the system should never be introduced, and the fact that some of them are famous does not mean that all of them necessarily have impeccable credentials. Unfortunately some famous people do not, and there is no reason to suppose that writers are more moral than everyone else.

We think that they should come off their high horses and be like the rest of us. The rule is that if we are likely to work with children we need to be vetted. Tough.

It reminds us of a well-known psychiatrist who was visiting a secure unit for children when a fire practice took place. He declined to take part. He finished dictating his reports and, as he was leaving, he said to the Senior Fire Officer, “My uncle was a fireman”, getting the response, “And what does that make you, bloody fire-proof?” The assembled staff and children who had just completed the practice did not sympathise with the psychiatrist.

Backing Jackson

Both in life and in death Michael Jackson attracted a massive amount of attention and caused a massive amount of controversy – as a fetching child singer, a pop superstar, an inventive musician and a somewhat strange person who had something of Peter Pan about him.

What fascinated us, however, was the general reaction to his death. Whether the allegations were true or not, it had been alleged that Michael Jackson shared his bed with teenage boys and that he had paid a large amount of money to avoid court action. For this sort of thing paedophiles have been locked up for life, hounded out of their homes and had their lives destroyed. This did not happen with Jackson; his fans stood by him. Why?

Was it just the power of money? Was it that nothing was ever formally proven? Was it that fans simply could not believe that he would abuse children? Was it the childlike qualities which he had, which made him at times seem more of a peer than a parent figure to children? Was it that he was so adored for his music that fans were prepared to overlook his foibles? Whatever the reason, others, such as Gary Glitter, have not got away with it.

From a Report by a Residential Worker

I sign in, and cheek which staff are on duty.


Deserves to be smacked.

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