Sometimes the matched sets just write themselves. Both of the articles I’m quoting here are from England. The first in our set is an article saying that town councils across England are being told that they need to reinstate actual playgrounds. The current versions, which are the kid equivalent of a padded room, are creating useless human beings:
Old-fashioned playground equipment like climbing frames, sand pits and paddling pools are set to be re-introduced after research found a degree of risk helps children to develop.
For years councils have felt forced to remove older attractions from their sites fearing any potential injuries could result in costly legal battles.
But recent research has shown that children actually benefit from risk when they play as it helps them develop the judgement skills they need in later life.
Chairman Bernard Spiegal told the Sunday Times he believed Britain had been obsessed with risk assessment which was having a negative effect on children.
He said: ‘We were crippling their confidence by not letting them learn through experience.
‘We don’t want children losing fingers in badly designed swings or getting their heads trapped under a roundabout. But there’s nothing wrong with a bump, bruise and graze.’
I’ll add that current “safe” playgrounds don’t inspire much energy in the kids. The installations are so bland, the kids get bored quickly, and long for the less rigorous comforts of their computers and TV sets.
Before we head to the matched-set article, just have fixed firmly in your mind that Britain is a country that, out of an excess of nanny state caution, has rendered children’s physical play boring, essentially herding children back to the couch.
If you’ve got that notion firmly in mind, it’s time for article number two, which is harrowing. It all started a few years ago when a young boy banged his head and, because he was angry at his father, called his town’s version of Child Protective Services and accused his father of hitting him. Child Protective Services did exactly what one would expect it to do when dealing with a stable, middle class family — it latched onto it like a piranha or tick, and proceeded to suck the life out of the family.
The family’s sin? The kids are overweight. It’s now come to the point that Dundee’s CPS has announced that it will remove the four youngest children permanently, hiding them from the parents:
Four obese children are on the brink of being permanently removed from their family by social workers after their parents failed to bring their weight under control.
In the first case of its kind, their mother and father now face what they call the ‘unbearable’ likelihood of never seeing them again.
Their three daughters, aged 11, seven and one, and five-year-old son, will either be ‘fostered without contact’ or adopted.
Warned that the children must slim or be placed in care, the family spent two years living in a council-funded ‘Big Brother’ house in which they were constantly supervised and the food they ate monitored.
The couple have not committed any crime and are not accused of deliberate cruelty or abuse. Their solicitor, Joe Myles, said there was ‘nothing sinister lurking in the background’ and accused social workers of failing to act in the family’s best interests.
‘Dundee social services department appear to have locked horns with this couple and won’t let go,’ he said, adding that the monitoring project caused more problems than it solved. ‘The parents were constantly being accused of bad parenting and made to live under a microscope.
Social workers became aware of the family in early 2008 after one of the sons accused his father of hitting him on the forehead. In truth, he had fallen and hit his head on a radiator – a fact he later admitted. However, the allegation opened the door to the obesity investigation.
While the couple admit experiencing what their lawyer calls ‘low grade’ parenting problems, which would have merited support, they were aghast when the issue of weight was seized on as a major concern.
The couple were ordered to send their children to dance and football lessons and were given a three-month deadline to bring down their weight. When that failed, the children were placed in foster homes but were allowed to visit their parents.
After the couple objected to this arrangement, the council agreed to move them into a two-bedroom flat in a supported unit run by the Dundee Families Project. They insisted on the couple living with only three of their children at a time.
At meal times, a social worker stood in the room taking notes. Doctors raised concerns that the children put on weight whenever they spent time with their parents, a claim they vehemently denied.
Although the children’s weight was the major concern, other allegations were included in a report. It showed that social workers were worried when the youngest child was found crawling unsupervised. The parents point out they were never far away and the flat had no stairs.
They also found her ‘attempting to put dangerous objects’ in her mouth. The family say this is natural in toddlers and she was never successful.
The father, aged 56, said: ‘We have tried very hard to do everything that was asked of us. My wife has cooked healthy foods like home-made spaghetti bolognese and mince and potatoes; we’ve cut out snacks and only ever allowed the kids sweets on a Saturday. But nothing we’ve done has ever been enough.
‘The pressure of living in the family unit would have broken anyone. We were being treated like children and cut off from the outside world. To have a social worker stand and watch you eat is intolerable. I want other families to know what can happen once social workers become involved. We will fight them to the end to get our beloved children back.’
You can read the whole litany of social worker horribles here.
Anyone who has read Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism will not be surprised by the family’s sufferings. This kind of micromanagement is precisely what the “loving” nanny state does. Indeed, think about the fact that Obama’s administration has taken to calling itself your “federal family.” For those who thinks it’s a figure of speech, it’s not. Socialist government does not believe that it can trust parents to raise the next generation of cogs in the government organization.
In the same way, anyone who has paid any attention at all to Child Protective Services agencies (in whichever country, and under whatever name they operate) knows that too many of these organizations are much less concerned with protecting genuinely at risk children (the beaten, starved and killed who make periodic newspaper headlines), and are much more concerned with forcing middle and working class families to abandon their parenting role or to risk being forced to hand their children over to the state.
There’s a reason I believe that CPS stands, not for Child Protective Services, but for “Causes Parental Suffering.”
Cross-posted at Bookworm Room