News Views

Safer Internet Day : 7 February 2012

There seem to be special days or years all the time now, and we could fill a whole magazine with them. This one, though, looks especially interesting. The Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) is linking with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection agency (CEOP) to draw attention to the need for internet safety. Obviously it is the children’s safety which they have in mind, but what they are trying to set up is events where children teach their parents and grandparents how to stay safe, under the title Connecting Generations. Two good ideas put together.

If you want to see their “comprehensive multimedia resource” called Safeguarding in a Digital World, go to .

Adoption Reform

We are pleased to see that Tim Loughton is taking action to speed up adoption. The current process is ridiculously long, because of both bureaucracy and court procedure. We are, though, wary about pitching expectations too high about the improvements which can be achieved.

The placement of children for adoption is life-changing for all concerned – the children, their blood parents, their adoptive parents and all their extended families, and the decisions need to be undertaken with due consideration. It is because the process has been handled carefully in the past that a high success rate has been achieved. The process must not be unduly drawn out but neither must it be rushed.

There may have been ultra-PC attempts to match children which have prevented their placement, but in any human activity there are some idiotic decisions, and reform will not rule them out entirely, whatever the system.

We have two main concerns beyond the need to simplify and speed up the process.

The first is that for older children it may be preferable to go for long-term foster care first, with a view to adoption. Older children come with a history and may have suffered in various ways. Whatever the matching process, adoption may not work. If it fails, it is very hurtful. Going for adoption raises the stakes; it is meant to be life-long and irrevocable. In some cases it is better not to make that commitment from the start, but for the adoption to follow as a matter of choice between the child and the adults when the adoptive status reflects their feelings for each other and the bonds they have built up.

The second is that adoption should be more open. Even when it works well, the adopted children sometimes want to make contact with their blood family. Furthermore, while the child’s parents may be unsuited to bringing the child up, that is no reason to disenfranchise their other relatives. Meredith Kiraly’s article in this issue on kinship care emphasises the importance of relationships in the extended family. Families take all sorts of shapes these days, and there is no reason why the new relationship between the child and the adoptive parents can only be formed on the basis that all the child’s other family ties have to be broken.

Residential Child Care – A Positive Choice

The Care Council for Wales, in partnership with Care Forum Wales, is hosting a conference on residential child care on 26 April 2012 at the Radisson Blu in Cardiff.

This national event, the first of its kind, will focus on residential child care in Wales and provide an opportunity to reflect on the distance travelled since the Waterhouse Inquiry in 1999. The conference will underline the positive contribution residential child care makes to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable children and young people in society today. It will also focus on the continuing opportunities to develop residential child care as a positive resource.

The programme will feature a number of high-profile speakers and include the experiences of children and young people who have been in residential child care. There will also be a range of workshops to showcase examples of good and innovative practice, including workforce development.

For details please contact [email protected] or call 01745 586863.

Bedwetting 1

We do not usually publish in full the surveys commissioned by companies with an interest in furthering their products, but the Drynites article in this issue has clearly hit on an important subject – parents’ embarrassment and unwillingness to talk openly about their children’s enuresis. Over recent years there has been greater openness about many illnesses which were previously taboo – Freddie Flintoff’s excellent TV programme on depression among sports stars being a good recent example. Whether being open will lead to a more level-headed approach and more effective treatment in the case of bedwetting, we do not know, but it is certainly better if parents do not feel a load of guilty embarrassment in dealing with it.

Bedwetting 2

While on the subject, we recall an inspection of a remand home in Glasgow many years ago. One of the inspectors decided to observe the night staff at work. They were a law unto themselves and did things their own way.

In the middle of the night they went round, woke up all the boys who had wet their beds, made them strip their beds and themselves, and marched them naked in a crocodile to the showers and then the laundry, before issuing clean pyjamas and sheets so that they could remake their beds.

“Does this system work?” asked the inspector. “Sure”, they replied. “And how do you know which boys to wake up?” “It’s always the same ones”. Enough said; the day-time managers were completely unaware of this nightly ritual.

Emla Helps Parents Plan

We are told by Emla that the Parent Planner iPhone app, which they supply, is the perfect way to manage your family’s calendar. The Emla Parent Planner, available free from and the App Store also includes a multi-child, personalised immunisation calendar – once you input your child’s date of birth, their immunisations (based on the NHS immunisation schedule) are automatically added to your calendar. The app will also notify you a week prior to a child’s scheduled immunisation, giving you time to prepare and visit your local pharmacy (which the app also indicates) to buy any products you may need, such as Emla, a numbing cream that can help to numb the pain of the needle.

The Emla Parent Planner app saves information for up to eight children and uses simple icons to help you manage their calendar. And to make sure you have a record of their most precious moments, the milestones function allows you to save photos or video clips, along with notes, within the calendar – ideal for recording their first steps, first words or even just a funny memory of something they’ve said that you’d like to remember.

As usual, we have not tested this product and are not endorsing it, but it sounds interesting, especially if you want to store funny video clips of your children being immunised.

‘Research’ 1

At the Toy Fair it was announced that the following were the jobs which children wished that their parents had:

1 Spy/ detective (29%)

2 Popstar (25%)

3 Olympic Athlete (24%)

4 Prime Minister (22%)

5 Footballer (18%)

The common factor would appear to be being a celebrity. Was this always the case? Did children in the past want their parents to be like George Formby or Lloyd George or Stanley Matthews? Or is it a comment on our current celebrity culture?

‘Research’ 2

The following is the list of the books most read by children, and the average number of times per annum that they read them, according to researchers commissioned by the Early Learning Centre:

8.85 The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

8.71 Cinderella – Various

8.41 Mr Men – Roger Hargreaves

7.72 Peppa Pig – Various

7.49 Postman Pat – John Cunliffe

7.48 The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson

7.43 Fireman Sam – Various

7.39 Spot the Dog – Eric Hill

7.31 Biff, Chip and Kipper – Roderick and Cynthia Rider Hunt

7.25 Horrid Henry – Francesca Simon

7.14 The Gruffalo’s child – Julia Donaldson

6.66 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

6.65 Dora the Explorer – Various

6.53 Winnie the Pooh – A. A. Milne

6.43 Bob the Builder – Various

6.09 The Cat in the Hat – Dr Seuss

6.09 Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl

5.88 Charlie and Lola – Lauren Child

5.22 Alfie and Annie Rose Stories – Shirley Hughes

5.21 Aliens love Underpants – Claire Freedman and Ben Cort

‘Research’ 3

A study undertaken by LV has discovered that childcare costs have now reached £62,099 for a child up to 21 years old. Education is only a slightly higher cost than childcare at £71,780 (£30,794 without university).

From the Case Files

I explained to the girls that I shall be leaving the Department; I do not expect any unpeasant developments in this case.

The girls know their place.

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