Deaths of children in State care

 

Sir, – We can only have the current debate on the care of children in Ireland while keeping a clear eye on the context of a generational cascade of total devaluation of disadvantaged children in this country.

Our historical record to the present time in systems of care in Ireland, including religious, education, sport, mental health and the legal system, shows a record of carelessness, callousness and cruelty to children and a great tradition of giving the protection of the authorities and professionals precedence over the ethics of care for the child.

Do we imagine that our current systems are free of the same pathological attitudes toward children? We must reflect on the State and attitudes of the people who care and legislate for children and families first. Until our systems are imbued with the true ethics of care and an honest, clear inquiry into our records of human rights and responsibilities, we will not have the systemic change that is so urgently needed in all our institutions of care and legislation and governance that would make a difference to the disadvantaged children and families in Ireland. – Yours, etc,

MARGARET O’CONNOR,

Psychiatric Social Worker,

Early Childhood Specialist,

Church Street, Millstreet,

Co Cork.

A chara, – There are core standards for documentation and record-keeping across the health and social care professions; or at least there should be (“Report into child deaths in State care a litany of shame”, Breaking News, June 20th).

I’m sure all health and social care education courses within the State have this subject as a part of the taught curriculum; certainly learners in practice placements will be introduced to it in the areas they work in. That we have a situation where case notes of some of the most vulnerable children in our care were in “complete disarray” or there were “little or no records” of what happened is inexplicable. It represents a great challenge to the credibility of health and social care practitioners and educators.

We simply cannot let this happen again. – Is mise,

MICHAEL NASH,

Lecturer in Psychiatric Nursing,

School of Nursing and Midwifery,

Trinity College Dublin,

D’Olier Street,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – Only when adults change their mindset that children are an investment for the future not a expense in the present, will all children’s quality of life improve. – Yours, etc,

MC MCCLUSKEY,

Newtown Villas,

Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Sir. – While the publication of the child death review group (Carl O’Brien, Home News, June 20th 21st) may assist in casting light on the circumstances leading to the deaths of children in care or otherwise, it fails to set the findings within an appropriate context.

Other jurisdictions have long- established procedures in examining such deaths and for many years now have well chronicled records concerning child deaths.

It is regrettable that the report fails to draw comparisons as a means of giving the taxpayers who fund social, educational and medical services some broad idea of where this State lies in a broader context. Could a helpful addendum in this regard be suggested? – Yours, etc,

AIDAN MC GIVERN,

Hillside Gardens,

Skerries, Co Dublin.

Sir, Charlie Taylor lists all the usual suspects who condemn the child protection system (“Child agencies appalled by findings”, Home News, June 21st).

I wonder how many of these spokespersons ever worked in the area of child protection. Had they done so, they would have learned that it is not an exact science and that balancing the care of children with the need to impose normal control is a very difficult task.

There is a further problem in deciding if dysfunctional parents, to whom the children have formed an attachment, should have access to children once they are placed in the care of the State.

The agencies who rush to comment on the report would do well to examine their own practices. Many of them are funded from the public purse but are rarely scrutinised. Finally, Gerry Adams should remember the deaths of children in Warrington and in many other areas. He might give some thought to children who were forced into State care because their parents “disappeared” or, to put it more accurately, were executed by the IRA.

If Christ were listening to these condemnations, He might do a lot of writing on the ground. – Yours, etc,

MARGARET LEE,

Newport, Co Tipperary.