Posted by Matt McAvoy on Friday, October 11, 2013 Under: Observations on Society
Let's get something cleared up. I alone was responsible for the creation of justice4victims.org, and I alone took the decision to discontinue the service.
I apologize wholeheartedly to those which followed our progress, and particularly the 50,000 or so which interacted with us, and it was indeed a dreadful decision for me to have to make, particularly after all the hard work that went into creating it; I in no way want any of those people to think I turned my back on the cause or reneged on my mission. The reason was simple: the landscape has changed - the country has changed.
When justice4victims.org was created we were angry! We were under a pathetic government which cared more about protecting care and justice professionals than ordinary people, a government which turned violent offending into affray and anti-social behaviour, which freed rapists and murderers to brutally offend again and again, whilst prosecuting decent people for protecting themselves against violent intruders. The country was in serious contrition, and justice4victims.org was called for, it was necessary, and it achieved a lot of followers.
But then, over the six years of justice4victims.org something changed - when all hope seemed lost, something truly confidence-inspiring happened: Britain saw sense, and voted out the bad seed. Now, after what seems a lifetime, we finally appear to have a government with its priorities in the right place, whose criminal justice policies actually seem to be on our side. Those 50,000 followers started to dwindle, people stopped desperately feeling that they needed the discourse of justice4victims.org, and started instead using its resources; although I didn't mind this, the hours upon hours of work going into running it could not really be justified as a student resource - nobody who worked on the project was being paid a single penny, and, quite frankly, we were pleased - optimism was growing. justice4victims.org was originally created to motivate people into action - quite radically. But that was a different lifetime - and, to my pleasure, I started to feel it was no longer relevant. After 6 years, I decided to give it up and move on with our life.
Now don't get me wrong - there is still much wrong with our country. Many social problems still presently overlooked. The current government, superheroes as they may be, does not have the fundamental answer to everything. BUT I DO!
Alright, sorry - I couldn't resist that, it was silly. By everything, I'll explain what I mean.
What is the definition of "fundamental"? In one word - "Why". That single word will lead you to the fundamental definition of anything you can think of. Not convinced? I'll explain.
Take a child, a particularly aggravating one, constantly asking "Why?"
"Go to bed."
"Because it's late."
"Because it's dark out."
"Because it's night-time."
"Just shut up and go to bed!"
Aggravating? Definitely. Inquisitive? Maybe. Perhaps the kid's right to keep asking why, and the adults wrong for discrediting this. It is my opinion that continually asking "why" is the only way you will reach the true fundamental cause of something. Just like the child insinuates, for every answer there's another question why. WHEN YOU REACH A POINT THAT THERE IS NO MORE "WHY" TO ASK, YOU'VE REACHED THE ROOT OF ANY SUBJECT. That's my thesis.
But how does this apply to everything?
My mum said to me once "How do you tackle all the problems in this country?" She was talking about the social problems - crime, violence, immigration, the NHS crisis, anti-social behaviour, the growing underclass; generally the depths of decency that this country has plummeted to in recent generations. The answer is this: if you use my method of asking "why" to trace every one of these issues to its root cause, I believe you will inevitably reach one common foundation. Anyone guess what it is?
The liberals will tell us we were already pre-disposed to reach this conclusion via hypothesis - naturally, I disagree.
I'll get you started by (genuinely) picking one of those social issues at random - the NHS;
Social problem: the NHS is in crisis.
Because it doesn't have enough money?
Because it is being abused by those that don't need it or deserve it.
Because it is free....
Do you see where I'm going with this? Keep going and see where it takes you - short odds say it will be the root of the welfare state.
Now try the same exercise with every other of the social issues you can think of - I think you already know where it's going to take you. Of course, perhaps unsurprisingly, the welfare state. Perhaps deeper still - more specifically, its recipients' reliance on it.
Okay, here we go, you're thinking, another negative moaner with nothing constructive to add but right-wing criticism. No - not me; those people, as they do you, infuriate me. If you have no policies or realistic suggestions to add, then stop criticizing, because in my opinion, the left-wing forum is littered with these people. "Blowing people up is wrong!" "So how do you oust a genocidal dictator?" "Well, I don't know, you know, talk to him." Brilliant.
ONE SINGLE POLICY WOULD ERADICATE A HUGE PERCENTAGE OF THIS COUNTRY'S SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE!
Sounds insane, even megalomaniacal (is that a word?). But it's true. Of course, not all the social problems, but a very big number, and perhaps not in the blink of an eye, but in one fell swoop, let's say. Those of you who followed justice4victims.org may be aware of this policy proposal - I published it as a letter on the website under an alias of Mr. M. Matthews (I didn't make a habit of this - just this once, I promise). The letter was entitled "AMEND SECTION 20 OF THE 1989 CHILDREN ACT".
Section 20 is the clause which legally allows any parent in the country to give up their child for local authority care, because they don't want to look after the child any more. Consider that - any parent can literally walk into a council building, dump their child there and say "I don't want it any more"; this "parent" will face no legal consequence for doing this. No legal consequence! And, perhaps more despicably, in this day and age, increasingly less social consequence - no stigma. The one innate purpose of a parent, and there is no shame in rejecting this duty in the 21st century.
I believe parents should not only be prevented from doing this, I believe that failure to adhere to your parental obligations should be a criminal offence, with severe penalties. If you have a child under 18, you should have a legal obligation to care for that child in your family home, even if she has a child of her own. If you are unable to do so without support, you should receive support. WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT RECEIVE IS A GREEN LIGHT TO HAND THE CHILD TO THE STATE, and any attempt to do so should be harshly punished.
Sounds draconian. But it is a root cause - I'll explain why shortly. But first I should respond to those who, quite rightly, will say that children must be protected and removal of section 20 will put more of them at risk. This is quite true. But I do not suggest that section 20 is literally torn away and the country left to ferment in the consequences. Of course its repeal must be supported by legislation relating to child abuse and neglect, and of course, far better social services. Far, far better.
Children at risk are currently protected by Section 44 in the very same Children Act - this is just not applied to enough of them, and the extra numbers will inevitably come with the amendment of Section 20. But how is that any different to what should be happening anyway!? If a child is at risk, Section 44 should be enforced already - what has Section 20 to do with it? Do we wait and hope that abusive or neglectful parents hand the child over? What kind of country fails in the protection of its children? This year's government figures show that almost half of all children in care were placed there voluntarily by their parents - this equates to nearly 30,000 care places which can not be provided to children at genuine risk.
You may be thinking: How does this impact upon a large section of the UK's social problems - I can sum this up with one little example: when I worked in "leaving care" services I knew of a woman who deliberately made her pregnant 15-year old daughter homeless in order for the girl to jump the queue and procure a council flat! This woman genuinely believed she was acting in her daughter's best interests! I have known other parents to encourage their teenage daughters to get pregnant in order to do the same! Failure to do so condemned that child and the newborn into an association with social services, low optimism and directly a reliance on the services generally. This is the curse of the underclass, and the scourge of our society as a whole.
The care system creates a culture of dependency, of diffusion of responsibility, and therefore of a reproduction of the whole attitude of parental neglect. This whole culture is directly related to teenage crime and pregnancy; low self-esteem in young people is directly related to violent crime, substance misuse and rejection of education. The UK should be ashamed that it even has section 20!
The welfare state costs Britain £80,000,000,000 per year, excluding pensions and the NHS. It is vital that we tackle the dependency culture. If Section 20 was repealed tomorrow and parental responsibility enforced, I believe we would see a massive and very sudden decrease in the number of pregnancies, particularly in young girls. This would be a huge step in eradicating the culture of dependency, and over time - perhaps a generation or two - the other overstretched services, such as the NHS, would feel a remarkable relaxation in the burden. Over time, we may even get our dignity back and start to feel stigmatized again - here's hoping.
So that's how you change everything. Sounds fantastical, and a little far-fetched, and perhaps I was a little bold in claiming everything. But I think you see what I'm getting at. And, to be quite honest, in close to 40 years on the planet I've yet to hear a better idea for resolving as many social issues as possible in one broad swipe.
Matt for PM!!
No, sod that - just buy my books.
Tags: section 20 children act enforce parental responsibility amend section 20 repeal section 20 definition of fundamental social problems root cause justice4victims justice4victims discontinued