This news article has made me angry. Vulnerable Children treated like Cattle
I have written out many responses but have decided there is only one way to truly answer it. With facts.
When I meet child C for the first time, she was sitting in one of the rooms with another young person. She hadn’t really done anything wrong other than follow the other young person whilst they had got themselves into trouble. Staff had come to me and said they were concerned that Child C was spending time with young people at risk of exploitation. The other young person in the room, who was used to being in this situation, was sliding around on a chair with wheels, being loud and telling everyone to go away. Child C was sitting quietly in the chair. She looked shy and a little bit shell shocked.
I walked into the office and glanced over at Child C. I directly addressed the other young person, who had been on my books for a while and informed them of the consequences of their actions. I turned to Child C and did the same.
The next day I sat with Child C. Blonde female, no makeup, about 13 years old. She could barely make eye contact with me and spoke in an almost whisper. She seemed to almost have a smirk on her face, which I learnt over time was the face she has when she is nervous.
She was a child in care from out of the area. Been in care for a while. Limited contact with mum and family. She had been in a few different placements due to behaviour. When she spoke, I almost wanted to call her carers and tell them to send her back. Get her out of the area. Because she was so naive. So…trusting.
I started some work with her around exploitation and what it looked like. But she started slipping. She was being draw into a group that housed a mixture of high-level concern for being a victim of CSE and those that were known to have exploited young people.
She started to wear make up to school. Not loads. Just enough that she made a statement. Normal teenage experimentation. I hoped.
Her language started to change. She had started to speak in the same street slang as many of the others. Understandable, many teenagers do this. It was so false and empty from her lips. She would forget to use it during conversations and then catch herself and slip back into it whereas the other young people I work with, it’s very natural. Its who they are.
She started hanging around a group of boys that are a concern. Wait… I take that back. They directly are no a concern. But their elders, the are the concern and there has been many girls and boys that have started at this low level and then get passed up. And then you lose them. It happened a few years ago with a girl. Passed up and failed by many people. But that’s another story.
Child C was changing. She was now angry and defiant. She was acting out. Asking for help without saying a word.
And I documented it. We all did.
I went up against the social worker this one time. There had been an incident and Child C said she would run away if no one would listen to her. I kid you not, I was begging her social worker to come and see her. I said that this is a high concern. That if we don’t get a handle on this right now, we would pay the price. And I was right. It often makes me sad when I am right.
Social worker never came that day. And when she did, I found myself arguing with her about the risk this child was at. They told my boss I was over reacting. That Child C was not in danger. My boss backed me and the made statements to say we were scare mongering.
Out of this, came a full-on row, and official statements were made by people in power. Big statements. It was clear that schools were struggling to keep Child C and other children that were in care from out of area safe. It was discussed and decided that we would not take any more children in care into the local schools. For one reason and one reason alone. That we could not keep them safe. And one of the main reasons we could not keep them safe was because people were not listening.
Child C had been brought in from out of area. Despite the area she was brought to being highly deprived, gangs and exploitation. Oh wait, noooo that was all denied. But, deny something does not make it true.
So, someone decided it would be a good idea to bring a 13-year-old child in care, who had already been through many placements, to an area where exploitation is high. Where children are known to be groomed. Where they operations and task forces to battle it.
Someone thought that it was a good idea to bring her here.
A year later. After all the warnings, all the times we were told we were scaremongering and making things up…. She became the victim of exploitation. Social services could see that they plan to move her out of area. But the damage has been done. You can take her where you want now, she will seek out exploiters. She will be attractive to them. Because she was not kept safe. Despite so many warnings.
I don’t often cry. Its not who I am. But I held back tears as I watched Child C break the other day. I watched what was once a naive little lost girl lashing out and angry. Shouting “Fam” this and “Fam” that. Darkness in her eyes. I held back tears as she was led away, knowing that she will be passed around somewhere else now. And it’s not her fault. Its our fault. The adults. The professionals.
Passed around by the care system the same way she will be passed around by exploiters.
Like a piece of meat, going to the highest bidder.
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