News Views

A mixture of news items, events, comments and whimsies, including the BBC’s responses to complaints, KidStart, computers for children, teamwork, meningitis C, young prisoners and accidents.

BBC : 1

We have written twice to the BBC in the last month. The first time we complained about the inappropriate use of images of Shannon Matthews during a report into the arrest of her stepfather Craig Meehan.

Gary Sullivan of BBC Complaints replied, “Mr Meehan’s arrest was part of the ongoing Shannon Matthews case and therefore relevant to the investigation. It has always been made clear that officers have said they did not believe any of the images found on the computer were those of family members.”

Our point was that it was perhaps acceptable to introduce the item by describing Craig Meehan as Shannon’s stepfather, but to then go on and show her photo while talking of the pornographic pictures which Meehan was alleged to have on his computer was quite inappropriate, as it had been explicitly stated that none of the photos was of her. Shannon is going to have a hard enough time living down her media exposure as she gets older without links being made to something that has nothing to do with her.

What do you think?

BBC : 2

The second occasion was triggered by an item on BBC Breakfast television about nannycams, when they used the words nanny and childminder indiscriminately as if they were synonymous.

We wrote, “Childminders are registered and inspected by Ofsted to provide care for children in the childminders’ homes (which are also inspected and approved). Nannies are not registered or inspected. They work in the homes of the children they are caring for. Clearly, parents can set up nannycams in their own homes, but not in those of childminders.”

This earned an automated response. We think that it is about time that the BBC used the correct terminology. Do they get nurses and doctors mixed up, or solicitors and barristers? Or is it just that people who look after children don’t matter as much, so it’s not worth getting their titles right?

What do you think? We think that both the BBC’s responses were inadequate.


We get a lot of emails addressed to the Editor, and we are selective about those which we share. This one seemed interesting, but as usual we have not tried it out and we are not endorsing it – simply making the information available.

“Launched in April 2008, KidStart is a free savings club that allows its members to collect cash savings for their own children, grandchildren or friends’ children while shopping at a wide range of retailers and service companies. KidStart’s aim is to help parents and grandparents do that little bit extra for their families in as easy a way as possible, while maintaining the necessary standards of trust and security.

“KidStart is building an ever expanding network of retailers and partners so that members can continue to save more over time. KidStart is not a typical loyalty programme. There are no points, no membership cards, no hassle, no catches, no hidden charges. Just cash, for kids, for free – its simple.

“KidStart offers savings of up to 20% at more than 200 online retailers, including Mothercare, Marks & Spencer, Waterstones, Expedia and PC World. KidStart will also shortly be announcing savings available from a number of major high street retailers and other partners. KidStart is free and easy to join and use. Log-on, sign up and you can immediately start to collect savings. You tell KidStart which children you want to save for and where you want the money deposited and KidStart does the rest. Savings can be deposited into Child Trust Funds, and most bank / building society child savings accounts. For more information, visit”

Puters for Kids

Here’s another press release we were sent. We found some of the blurb a bit cringesome (“the perfect fit for your mini genius”) but the idea is interesting.

“Give your child a step in the right direction with ‘Puters for Kids’, the new state of the art personal computer designed specifically for 3 years and over by experts in computing and child psychology.

“The uniquely designed Puter, with specially developed child-sized keyboard and mouse is stored on a robust desk allowing both the computer and wires to be safely concealed providing a clutter free work station. It arrives fully loaded with a full range of fun games and programmes that children love and which develop and enhance ICT skills essential for today’s world and to accelerate your child’s learning.

“The special compact design of the Puter is ideal for installation at home, in the class room or anywhere that children need entertaining and is available in three levels – Nursery, Deluxe and Entertainer, which can be upgraded with your child’s growing needs and learning ability.”

“Each Puter comes ready to plug and play – already installed with windows and a choice of software. More than just a PC each Puter is tailor made based on the customer’s needs, with the options of a coloured desk and chair of your choice, built in CD, DVD and digital TV it becomes a mini entertainment system perfect for all ages. Puters for Kids start from £697 and come with a 12 months guarantee and free telephone support service. Please visit for more information.”


This month Valerie Jackson is writing about the importance of teams, and the complementary roles which people need to play if teams are to be effective. There are plenty of examples. This year’s FA Cup had more than its usual share of giant-killers, with Barnsley beating Liverpool and Chelsea – two of Europe’s semi-finalists. Even brilliant players do not win if the quality of their teamwork is not as good as their opponents’.

This is spelt out in Jim Anglin’s book on residential child care Pain, Normality and the Struggle for Congruence: Reinterpreting Residential Care for Children and Youth (Haworth, 2003). The success of the good children’s homes which he studied depended on their congruence. Did they do what they said they did? Did the managers do the same as the front-line care workers? Did everyone understand their working methods and apply them? Congruence, consistency, reliability, trust, – good team work is a vital ingredient.

Echoes in the Hills is a text about five qualified workers who set up a children’s home in mid-Wales which specialised in short-term programmes of activities for teen-agers. Having trained together and decided to work together, the five acted as a democratic team, and the experiment worked. And there are lots of other examples.

Did You See?…..

….. the report that for the first time since records began, no meningitis C deaths were recorded last year among the under-19s. Previously the disease had killed up to 78 young people a year, and survivors had suffered brain damage and amputations. However, vaccination had been introduced in 1999, leading to a phenomenal decline in the number of cases.

Congratulations to the Department of Health. Less misery for survivors and their families. Less grief for victims’ families. And no deaths. Indeed, the cost of the vaccinations will presumably have been less than the cost of treating those with the disease in the past. Good news all round.

….. that the Youth Justice Board missed its target to reduce the number of young offenders in custody by ten per cent between 2005 and 2008. It wanted the number of inmates to be reduced from 2,676 in March 2005 to 2,408 by March 2008. However, the number of young people in custody has in fact risen by eight per cent reaching 2,883 in February this year.

We think that King Canute could teach the Government a lesson on this one. Why are targets set that people are not in a position to control?

Reducing the number of young people in prison is dependent on :

– the offenders’ parents in failing to bring them up better;

– the young people themselves, in offending or declining to offend;

– the judiciary in deciding to send the young people down, and for how long;

– the Government in passing laws and issuing tougher guidance on sentencing;

– the media in demonising young people so that they are treated more harshly;

– the section of the general public that bays for incarceration;

as well as any action the YJB takes.

With this lot on the other side, the YJB has a harder job than Sisyphus.

….. the item in the Daily Mail which said that children had fewer accidents while playing outside now as children’s play has become dominated by more sedentary activities, such as computer games. In 2006-07, 1,067 children needed medical treatment after falling from a tree, compared with 1,823 in 1999-2000 – fewer than the 2,531 who required treatment after falling out of bed. Dangerous place, bed; better to build a nest in a tree, as gorillas do. You don’t hear of gorillas falling out of bed.

From the Case Files

Headings on a Medical File :

Social History

1 Smoking History

2 Alcohol Consumption

Suggesting that medics have a rather limited view of social life?

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