Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I listened to an interview on Radio 4 this evening on the Shannon Matthew’s case. I was particularly struck by a quote from the Serious Case Review which concluded that the family's history was characterised by "neglectful parenting interspersed with periods of adequate parental care". This is something that I come across again and again in my role at school (even in comparatively well-off North East Somerset). It’s an aspect of my job that I find really depressing.
Just two examples from TODAY (and I could quote at least a dozen if I extended the time period to perhaps a month!):
1. A year 9 boy’s behaviour and attitude has become very concerning of late and a meeting was called to review the situation (the boy, his Mum and his grandmother were present). During the course of the meeting, it transpired that the boy’s behaviour at school generally seemed to be fine when his mother had been at home the previous evening/early morning (she worked a night shift). Unfortunately, when his mother was at work and in the “care” of his step-father, the step-father would simply disappear down the pub each evening leaving the boy at home by himself; the boy’s behaviour at school the following day was invariably awful. It was absolutely clear that the grandmother knew nothing of the step-father’s life-style and she immediately suggested that her grandson came to stay with her whenever Mum was working nights. The boy appeared to be absolutely delighted by the suggestion - perhaps his actions/behaviour were a cry for help?
2. I’m dealing with a Year 9 girl (whose brother left school three years ago and has just got out of prison). Both the girl and her brother are very bright (both could/can easily get to university if they so wished). Since Easter, the girl has been attending school only three times a week on average; she’s also been truanting from lessons. Mum complains that she finds it very difficult to get her daughter out of bed in the mornings. We are aware that the girl takes drugs/drinks excessive alcohol on a regular basis; she’s out every evening until late and appears to be mixing with some very “bad company”. When asked why she allows her daughter to do the things she does, Mum simply replied “well, what can you do?”.
It seems inconceivable to me that we might have been prepared to abandon a child of ours while we were “down the pub” on a regular basis or to have allowed any of our children to go “into town” every evening.
Children DO need boundaries; they DO need to understand discipline. I just can’t get my head around some of the so-called “parenting situations” I regularly come across… and I really worry about some of the next generation of parents – and their children!

1 comment:

tallulahpetunia said...

We come across "neglectful parenting" all too often don't we? It's always depressing when parents don't realise that teenagers need their parents as much as they did when they were babies and little children and need them to BE there for them. Not always easy I know when we have to go out to work to pay the mortgage, but it can be done and we can be good role models for our children if we try. Yes, we have to give up things we may have been able to do/have if we were childless but we CHOOSE to have children.
Sadly, in the teenage years neglect seems to happen most when the parent "wants their life back" and chooses to prioritise a new relationship over the child.
My son Barney has 2 parents who love him and we work together to bring him up despite being divorced. He also has a brilliant step-dad and step-mum (I feel SO lucky!) who also love him. It's certainly not always easy, and he's not a teenager yet so who knows what's around the corner, but nobody said it would be... Families are fragmented and different but they CAN be successful. It just(?) takes work!!