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Why don’t we ever do the right thing when someone needs us most?

November 26, 2008
For once I will stray from life in Finland and reflect on the horrible story of child abuse and murder that has unfolded in the U.K. over the last week and half. I need a catharsis – a chance to get it off my chest and reflect on other issues while I am at it.
The ordeal of Baby P, a 17 month-old toddler who was neglected and abused so horribly that it resulted in his death in August 2007, has attracted the shock and anger of millions. His neglectful and uncaring mother, her sadistic boyfriend and equally uncaring and abusive lodger have been found guilty of causing and allowing his death. Under a court order the mother, the boyfriend and even Baby P cannot be identified. Since Baby P’s picture and the catalogue of horrific injuries he suffered were revealed in the press last week, worldwide outrage at how the case was handled has dominated conversation the world over.
Never in my life have I read anything that has made me cry as much as this has…
I am angry. I am so torn up inside at how someone could abuse a defenceless little boy. It hurts so much to think that he died after a final blow to the head – alone and without love, in his bed. I cry every time I think about it. How could anyone do a thing like that?… HOW COULD ANYONE DO A THING LIKE THAT?
And in the end, the people responsible for his death will likely spend far less than the maximum 14 years in jail that they could be sentenced to for the crime.
I have asked myself a lot of questions in the last week:
  • How could social workers have missed the signs of abuse?
  • Why did Baby P’s mother show a total disregard for his well-being? A police officer described her as "detached from reality" – why would someone like that be allowed to keep her child?
  • Why did senior managers in Haringey social services overrule the people who said that Baby P should not be returned home to his mother?
  • How could the people meant to protect Baby P fail so "spectacularly" (as Panorama’s Alison Holt put it), as they did with Victoria Climbie in 2000?
  • Why didn’t Haringey’s social services involve Baby P’s biological father in the child protection plan set out by his case workers?
  • Was Baby P ever happy in his short tormented life?
I have joined the Facebook group "Campaign to get justice for Baby P", as of this moment the membership is approaching 210,000 members and is officially backed by The Sun. I have also signed the petitions and written to MP’s in the British parliament. I felt compelled to act because children should never have to suffer as Baby P did. Being sorry for the death of Baby P is not enough. He deserved a far better life than he had…
After watching the BBC program Panorama entitled "What happened to baby P?", I realized I needed to take a step back. (Also available on YouTube in three parts, type in "Baby P Panorama") Yes, I believe the people involved in this case should be disciplined and that some serious changes need to be made in to the way child protection is handled. (I am going to get global now…) At the same time social services in the U.K. and dozens of other countries around the world are suffering from a lack of trained professionals and a lack of resources to protect children. Social workers who work on the front line need our support. They have a difficult job and people who do not work in the field could never understand the obstacles they face in their daily work.
In the current worldwide volatile financial crunch we are facing it amazes me that governments have billions to pump into the financial and manufacturing sectors to rescue failing corporations and sustain expensive military campaigns in far flung lands. Yet on the other hand, these same governments have no money to invest in our future – the children of this world. They have no money to invest in arresting climate change or reducing the environmental damage that is being wrought on the world. There is no money to improve education, social services, health care and crumbling infrastructure…
What is wrong with this picture?
For once I would like the politicians of this world to stop talking and start acting.
Rest in peace Baby P.  Broken heart
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