Sunday, December 04, 2011

Child victims - no cut and dry answers

Three stories drew my attention today. Child death and child neglect and child neglect.

For ten years I have racked my brain over what can be done to either improve the lot of children who are born into circumstances of material and spiritual impoverishment, or reduce the likelihood of it happening in the first place. Initially I looked at the problem theoretically and philosophically, then I got involved at a political level, then a practical level for a number of years. And still I find myself without a single hard and fast answer.

I was prompted to reflect on this after a conversation yesterday with someone who continues to work for the community organisation I was a volunteer for. She told me that it has expanded significantly but wasn't necessarily more effective. Government funding was good but they were now getting compulsory referrals from CYF making the job different and difficult. In the past referrals came in on a voluntary basis which meant clients were amenable - well, initially at least. So the need is growing but the private/public mix isn't the silver bullet.

Scene-set. The CYF caseworker refers dysfunctional families to a community organisation that can provide volunteer mentoring. The government saves taxpayer money by harnessing an unpaid workforce. But to the dysfunctional family this new intrusion presents just another hurdle they have to jump over to continue to receive a benefit (or perhaps keep custody of a child). That's my take on it anyway. Every client I ever had in 5 years was on a benefit.

The idea that people need to meet criteria to receive state support is inherently a conservative one. What pains me about it is it legitimises state support where it shouldn't. But even worse it pushes already damaged people further into a 'them and us' mindset, a feeling of sullen resentment and alienation which drives an instinct to rebel and reject. That manifests in the way they treat their children.

So not only are we back to square one but possibly minus square one. The children are probably even more vulnerable than they were before extra pressure was brought to bear on (usually) the single mother.

Time pressure doesn't allow me to return to my volunteering and on the basis of what was described to me, I wouldn't want to.

But I keep coming back to two broad propositions for the state, which will continue to monopolise the problem for some time yet. It has got to stop incentivising childbirth and start incentivising prevention. Stop paying people to have children and start paying them not to. And it has got to stop counselling against adoption and get more children into stable and loving homes from the outset.

The massive escalating intervention - private, public or a mix - is usually too much, too late.

11 comments:

Brendan said...

100% correct.

Do you think it will ever happen?

Redbaiter said...

"The idea that people need to meet criteria to receive state support is inherently a conservative one."

What rubbish. Could you please stop constantly smearing an ideology you obviously do not have the faintest idea about?

The errors in that statement are so great in number it would take me far to long to correct them all, but true Conservatives do not support government welfare in any form, with criteria or without criteria.

Briefly, the Conservative position is that if assistance is needed, it comes from charity.

Secondly, it is not so important that a child is born into poverty or wealth. what is important is that the child lives in a moral environment.

Good parenting is the key.

Please stop these misinformed and plainly ignorant attacks on Conservatives in almost every post.

Hamish said...

I bet our conservative party supports it Red, and considering you judge libertarians on political parties all the time that must be pretty damning evidence in your eyes!

Redbaiter said...

THe NZ Conservative party is only a fledging enterprise and it will struggle to survive and be a real Conservative force amongst the misinformation and smears that it attracts in The NZ political sphere, clearly populated by ignorami who wouldn't know a true Conservative from a garden plant.

Give it time, and it might develop into something that we need so badly in this country- A party that provides an authentic small government maximum individual responsiblity choice on the ballot paper.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Brendan, If you agree, the more we express the ideas publicly, the more likely they are to take hold.

RedBaiter, "Conservative" as in centrist conservative governments like The Republicans in the US, The Conservative Party in the UK and National in NZ. These are the parties that talk about reciprocal obligations, as opposed to left liberals who talk about social investment. Broadbrush.

Redbaiter said...

I know what you are trying to say Lindsay, but there is a great difference between a Conservative and a Republican. Like the UK Conservatives and the Nationals, the Republicans are basically just a slightly less left version of the Democrats (or Labour).

There is very little about them (if anything at all) that fits the description of Conservative. They're (sadly) as Progressive as anyone.

The left have attacked through the culture. Conservatives will win the culture back.

That is why we must be clear on what Conservatives really are.

Psycho Milt said...

Redbaiter's more your traditional conservative a la the early modern period of history, in which the role of govt was considered to be: ensuring those with power and wealth enjoy unrestrained exercise of them; enforcing the morality of the church; ensuring the man's role as head of his family; and keeping "the mob" in its place. The fact that people these days don't think of conservatism in those terms seems to annoy the hell out of him.

Anonymous said...

The Conservative Party in the UK

The gay-marrying, benefit raising, defence-cutting "Conservative" Party in the UK has long ceased to be conservative in any way, shape, or form.

Even Maggie was unable to cut benefits by a single pound.

Briefly, the Conservative position is that if assistance is needed, it comes from charity.


Rubbish - the Conservative position is that assistance is not needed. It's called personal responsibility and family responsibility.

The fact that people these days don't think of conservatism in those terms seems to annoy the hell out of him.

Hell yeah! which part of "The rich man in his castle/ The poor man at his gate/ GOD made them, high and lowly/ And ordered their estate" don't you understand

Psycho Milt said...

Oh, I understand it alright - to my mind it's the best and most concise expression of traditional conservative thinking ever written. However, people have moved on from that position. These days, it's only throwbacks like Redbaiter still holding that trad view of conservatism - and, obviously, people like yourself with some kind of ultra-conservative performance art thing going on, but how many of those are there likely to be?

Anonymous said...

to my mind it's the best and most concise expression of traditional conservative thinking ever written.

Thanks - see we can agree on something.

people like yourself with some kind of ultra-conservative performance art thing going on, but how many of those are there likely to be?

People like me - not very many thank God!

But voters for a traditionalist, Village Green, God and Country, Hard Work and Pensions, Conservative party - I figure at least 10%.

Just add up the figures for Colin Craig, Peter Dunne, ACT, and Winston

You may all hate it but the truth is Winston's policies are pretty much all old-line One Nation Tory.

RB will never admit it but not selling assets is a perfectly respectable "One Nation Conservative" position. Of course, RB hates One Nation Conservatives as much as he hates Labour...

Anonymous said...

Say what the fuck you like about Key & Banksie. He’s DELIVERED
* ACC is gone
* WINZ is privatised
* Schools privatised
* FULL ENTRENCHED SPENDING CAP

Key must have decided he's going to lose the next election. This will be just the start.

HALLE-FUCKING-LUJAH!!


There's only one thing better than kicking a commie to the ground - curbstomping him when he's down!