I have not blogged for a few weeks. I have not done a much of anything for a few weeks other than write my dissertation. I had to almost exclude any other activities for the past month and push everything I had into writing the dissertation. This alongside a very challenging full-time job and being a single mum to a child with SEN is not recommended.
When I decided to undertake my masters, It was based on two things…..setting a bar for my own children….to change something.
To change something…..I wonder if people always want to change something.
Do you want to change something? Id the answer is yes then…. Do it. Or at least try. Life is too short.
I have worked with children and young people for a long time. I have watched many grown from children…to teens… to young adults (That makes me feel old). I have seen many things happen to and around the children I work with…Death’s, youth violence, arrests, kids on the run, abuse, homelessness, rape, poverty….the list goes on and on. And I like to think that with each case I learn something new and I improve myself as a practitioner. But there was something that I kept seeing that not only bothered me, but also I couldn’t always change. And that frustrated me greatly.
The lack of safeguarding that takes place when a child who is being exploited commits a crime.
As far as back as I can remember , as a child myself, I noted that you would be treated differently by professionals once crime came into play.
Something that has caused me some distress recently is the memory of the first time I was arrested, It would seem that I had pushed this memory way back into my mind but an incident that took place this year brought it back in a way that was very painful.
The first time I was arrested I was at school. Well….at the PRU I attended. I had been involved in an incident at the weekend that had resulted in someone getting hurt. I was 12. The actual incident that had taken place that weekend had shaken me up quite badly. It had happened on the Saturday and I remember staying in all day and night on the Sunday, something I would never do.
A crime has been committed, Yes. Had I willing taken part in that crime….absolutely not. I had no power to stop it. I didn’t want to take part in it. I was scared and ashamed of what had taken place. And I knew I could not tell anyone.
I was in Art and one of the teachers came and got me and said I had to follow them to the front of the PRU. When I got there, there were 4 police standing there. I went to walk past them as I didn’t not acknowledge they were for me at all. I remember walking past and this big heavy hand coming down on my shoulder with a tough grip and the policeman who delivered that grip saying something like “You’re going nowhere”. I realised what was going on and stated to kick off. I was shouting and screaming as the police arrested and I was begging for my mum. I didn’t really understand what was going on or what they were saying.
I wet myself.
By the time I got to the station I was a mess.
I dot want sympathy as you read this. I deserved to be arrested. But I also deserved to be safeguarded. A bit of contextual safeguarding would not have gone a miss.
There were lots of questions . I knew not to snitch, of course. But I also didn’t know how to make any of it stop. I was shamed of what I had witnessed that weekend, but I knew if I told I would be in a lot of trouble both by the police and back on the ends. I was in an impossible situation.
And once they had finished trying to pump me for information they just sent me home. No one ever asked me if I was scared. If I had been forced to be part of that night. No one questioned the Nike air Jordan’s on my feet, yet my mum had to walk 2 hours to come and get me. I had a black eye when they arrested me. Massive, all the way around my eye and my nose. No one asked me a thing.
I was not safeguarded in any way and was not properly safeguarded , in my personal opinion, from that day forward.
Everything that happened to me from that day forward could have been prevented with the correct safeguarding.
And I saw this repeatedly. Child after child. We were just churned out by both the people in our area and the professionals around us. Failings. Inadequate safeguarding.
As I grew up and started to work with children and young people I saw the same failings repeat over and over.
I saw children criminalised before they were safeguarded so many times. SO many lives destroyed. SO many children treated like animals.
And so, 12 years ago I decided that to have a voice for all these children I needed to get educated Needed to get something that showed I knew what I was taking about. I decided to start my degree. It was initially going to be a social work degree but changed my mind at the last moment. And decide to get a degree in health and social care. The plan was this way I would gain knowledge across a broader sector.
And so, 4 years ago I achieved my degree. However, the world had continued to evolve in many ways in the time it took me to obtain my degree. Yet…here were children I worked wit and cared about still being criminalised before they were safeguarded.
But I used my voice as best I could.
Then, there was an incident . A boy I knew was attacked and hurt badly. He was stabbed in his thigh. He hid it , stemmed the bleeding and limped into school the next day. His friend told on him to me. I remember sitting in front of him as he begged me not to call the police because he knows that they would not keep him safe. I knew that. His mum knew that. But I had to inform the police and other services.
And things got bad for him. No one seemed to want to listen to the part of how he felt about being attacked. About the implication on his mental health. How he had started sleeping on his mothers’ bedroom floor. That he couldn’t eat. Nope. There was a clear focus on his crime first and foremost.
It was then I decided.
I spent ages finding the right degree. I didn’t know what the title was, but I knew what the content would be.
I found the MA and then spent days telling myself that I was not good enough. That I was no way clever enough. Then I thought I would apply and after an interview that I thought I had ruined ….I was accepted.
As many people taking on a MA, I did not realise how hard and time consuming it would be. I regrated taking on my MA almost instantly. I started the MA and within weeks everything changed. My role at work changed and suddenly I was in charge. My daughters SEN suddenly became more apparent. My son moved out. I could go on and on but let’s just say I had a plan, and it all went very wrong very quickly.
There were many days (As my study buddy Dave will vouch for) when I said I was done I couldn’t do it. I am leaving. But I didn’t (Greatly down to Dave and the people around me).
I was at a point where I knew I could not keep this up. That I was not the person I thought I was. That I was punching way above my station. I lay in bed writing my email to my tutor withdrawing my place. I decided I would read it in the morning and if I were happy I would press send and never have to think about the stupid MA ever again. I lay in bed browsing on my phone, full of anger at myself. I had been reading about the death of Jaden Moodie for a week or so and saw that you could read the serious case review that went with it. I clicked and started to read. It was about 10 pm
By 10:45 I was up, walking around my house, fuming. So so angry. But not at myself this time. At the line in his serious case review that said…
“His death could not have been avoided”
How dare they. The evidence was massive. I wanted to tell everyone…anyone…that once again his safeguarding had not taken place in the way it should have.
And it was then, waking around my living room at 1 in the morning in my Harry Potter Pjs that I knew what I had to do.
The next day I did not send the email. I stopped moaning (as much) and started to study so hard. COVID-19 came and almost knocked me off completely. With COVID-19 came new pressures. New pain. But nope. Like someone walking in a storm , I pulled my jacket closer , put my head down and carried on walking into the rain and wind.
I was waiting for the moment.
I studied when I took my daughter away for weekend at a caravan during the summer, I studied when my son came home after I had not seen him for 6 months due to coved. And when we returned to going to work in September I have been getting up each morning at 6 to study for an hour before work. Reading each night until my eyes hurt.
Dissertation time. Everyone presumed was going to do Child sexual exploitation. And I could have. I have much knowledge and such on that subject. But no.
I started to write and have been writing for months and months.
This last bit has killed me. Hence why I have been of the radar the last 4-6 weeks.
And this week I submitted my dissertation . As I pressed that button I felt like someone who goes on holiday but knows they have forgotten something. I pressed the button and thought I would feel this sudden rush of emotion. Happiness maybe.
But I didn’t. And haven’t. I feel in shock .
I kept saying I was gonna do this and that when my dissertation was done. But I can’t relax. I guess maybe I would be able to feel like its s all ok until I know if I passed but that’s not until Feb 2021.
But its more than that. Its been years and years of study and planning. The whole of my daughter’s life…. Working towards this moment.
My dissertation is on county lines. It is based on the case of Jaden Moodie and with the help of years of study and knowledge I based my dissertation on the failings that Jaden and children like him fail when criminalisation is put before safeguarding.
The last line of my dissertation says …
If the above recommendations are not considered then children like Jaden Moodie will continue to die on our streets.
Man…. It felt good to make that point for once and for all without it being based on emotion and anger. But based on evidence and backed up by knowledge.
Anyway….its done. I am never studying again…. And now I plan my next decade (as those who know me best…know I plan in decades)
They better not pass me and give me the right to put letters after my name…..because if they do….well….who knows where this will end lol.
At the start of this blog I said I undertook my MA to do two things….raise the bar for my children (If I can get a MA In Covid I don’t wan to hear you cant do your homework)…and to change something.
I want every child to be safeguarded, criminal or not. Perpetrator or not. National standard that means that a child is safeguarded first. Criminalised second. I know that will sit right with some people. I get that. But that’s what I am doing and If I had to go and get a MA to make sure my voice is heard…then…well….that’s what I did.