Children

Newcastle abuse and lessons from Rotherham

Author: 

Charlotte Zalens

On Friday 11 August the Sun newspaper published an article by Labour MP Sarah Champion under the headline ″British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls … and it’s time we faced up to it″.

The Rotherham case bears many similarities to that of Newcastle. There were multiple factors involved there: vulnerable young women, poverty, the use of drugs and alcohol, authorities disbelieving or in some cases blaming victims as well as, the patriarchal attitudes of some men, attitudes which are prevalent in many communities, in different forms, and which make women and girls “fair game” for sexual exploitation.

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The right to be cool

Author: 

Simon Nelson

June 2017 was the hottest June for 176 years. Across Europe temperatures went up to 38°C, and groups of school children and workers defied instructions and wore skirts to school and work to try and keep cool.

Children and workers wear skirts to school and work to keep cool.

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Against Borders for Children

Author: 

Joe Booth

On 14 January, I went with another member of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty to the Against Borders for Children (ABC) conference. The event was about fighting for refugee children, and was organised by ABC, a group that allies with teachers and students to fight for refugee children who are being spied on or even arrested by the government.

The NUT has argued that “schools are not part of policing immigration”, and even Ofsted head Michael Wilshaw stated that he was “amazed by it and shocked by it. Schools shouldn’t be used for border control”.

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UK school system bad for children

The Programme for International Student Assessments (PISA) rankings were published on 6 December. These put UK schools in the 20s among the 72 countries surveyed.

Socialists don′t put great store by the PISA ratings, which measure different nations academic achievements by testing 15 and 16 year olds in maths, science and reading. However, the UK’s poor results do demonstrate that, even by their own standards, the Tories model for education is failing.

Whilst not perfect, Finland provides an educational model that is more effective and, more importantly, less harmful to children.

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Football abuse: overturning a culture of silence

Author: 

Gerry Bates

More than 20 ex-football players have come forward with reports they were sexually abused as children by coaches. The revelations have sparked an investigation by five police forces, as well as an internal investigation by the Football Association. An NSPCC hotline has already received over 100 calls.

The many players who have come forward have done a great service to football and society by forcing a discussion about a culture that has provided very favourable conditions for abuse and exploitation. It is shocking that it took so long for the various authorities to investigate.

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What "balancing the budget" means

Author: 

Martin Thomas

"Crikey, had a great 'win' last week which sent some parents into a storm", boasted Mark Small on Twitter in mid-June.

His firm is a contractor which is paid by local councils to fight parents' claims to get Special Educational Needs provision for their children. As the Guardian puts it, "its success rests on its ability to help cash-strapped local authorities cut the costs of SEN provision".

It also sells training to council officials to help them minimise SEN provision.

A lawyer boasts about how many Special Education Needs applications he has blocked.

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A failed attempt to silence

Author: 

Martin Thomas

On Wednesday 4 May the government sacked Natasha Devon from her unpaid post as mental health champion for schools. Evidently it concluded that the parents protest the day before against excessive testing, when thousands kept Year 2 children off school, showed that Devon was having too much effect.

Anxiety is the fastest growing illness in under-21s, and three students in the average school classroom have a diagnosed mental illness.

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Mental health shortfall worsens

Author: 

Colin Foster

Waiting lists in the NHS are increasing for physical illnesses. But at least they are monitored, and the government feels pressure to reduce them.

According to a new report from the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children), one child in five of those referred to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) is denied service. For those who get it, the wait for an assessment appointment averages two months across the country, more than 26 weeks in some areas, and “years not months” in others.

In the last five years, it has become harder for children and young people to get mental health help.

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Capitalism vs human life

Author: 

Martin Thomas

Capitalism has created life-enhancing possibilities. It has even realised some of them. My older daughter has epilepsy. In pre-capitalist times, if she’d had medication at all, it would have had no, or harmful, effects, and the seizures would probably have become more severe until they disabled and killed her. Today, she has been able to end the seizures with just a few pills, without side-effects.

Capitalism is creating grand possibilities, but simultaneously stifling, blighting, and threatening human life.

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Docking benefits won't keep children in school

Author: 

Gemma Short

Parents of children who are absent from school will have child benefit docked by £120 if they do not pay a fine within 28 days.

Local authorities can already take parents to court if their children are “truanting”; courts can fine parents £60, rising to £120 if the fine is not paid within 21 days. Larger fines, community or jail sentences are also handed down to “persistent offenders”.

Parents of children who are absent from school will have child benefit docked by £120 if they do not pay a fine within 28 days.

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