Baby Peter suffered 50 injuries including a broken back before he died
Thank you for sending us your comments.
The debate is now closed but a selection of your views are published below.
Panorama's Baby P: The whole truth? was broadcast on BBC One at 8.30pm on Monday 4 May 2009.
I have used Solution Focused Brief Therapy for the pass 15 years as a family worker. The idea that this method is at fault is totally wrong. The practitioners are the ones at fault and this is probably down to poor training, bad supervision of the social workers involved and overload of case work. I feel your programme came across very badly and laid the blame at the feet of the method rather than at the feet of the practitioners involved in this case. Poor training, supervision and heavy caseloads are becoming a serious issue across the country and this should be the focus when the death of a child occurs.
What amazes me is the vast emphasis that is placed upon the social care system to prevent the death of Baby P, when the true fault lies with those that actually brutally murdered this innocent child. There is no doubt that the services did not perform to the highest of standards but these are hard working people, under immense stress that are trying to protect our children. Whilst more could and should have been done by professionals, we should be focusing more on the true criminals. When children's lives are saved by social services, we don't document widely how heroic these people are, so why are we so quick to portray the blame to be on the professionals that did not manage to help enough. I do believe that improvements need to be made but they are, after all, only human. We should be questioning the humanity of those that actually abused and killed a defenceless child!
I work very closely developing strengths-based and solution-focused practice with child protective services. I would suggest that it is not solution-focused practice that is at fault but HOW IT WAS USED. In our effort, it is used to determine the level of safety for a child and significantly involves ALL who are involved in a situation with a child. Serious questions are asked about all relationships within the family and extended family in determining safety factors. Any report of potential danger is the focus of the conversation and safety is the primary concern throughout the conversations. That is the focus of the contact and any suggestion of danger is taken very seriously and addressed. Again safety is the focus and how to maintain safety is paramount. Safety can mean removing a child until the situation can be stabilized if that is possible. This is very compatible with a strengths and solution-focused model of practice. I am very sad about this child or any child that must endure this type of treatment. Again, I do not think it is fair to blame a form of work that is very helpful in these cases because it might have been miss handled.
It is clear from viewing the BBC Panorama programme that a proper application of the solutions-focused Signs of Safety approach could only have benefitted Baby P. The 'serious failings' of management, leadership and practice reported in the programme had nothing to do with SF or Signs of Safety. Indeed, as the comments of the NSPCC's Wes Cuell emphasise, the systems of child protection currently in place in the UK have made little significant difference to the number of child tragedies over the years and are unlikely to do so in future. The Ofsted regime's ratings do nothing to indicate where the next tragedy will strike. A Signs of Safety approach would have asked what was needed to ensure the safety of Baby P. Maintaining a status quo of child at home suffering suspicious injuries is not a satisfactory answer to that question. Someone was quoted as saying at the time, "the situation cannot continue" - but it did. That's precisely the sort of poor practice that rigorous Signs of Safety would not allow. I suggest the UKASFP takes this opportunity to promote SF approaches, including Signs of Safety and the brilliant work of Andrew Turnell, the Brief Therapy Practice and others, to improve, re-inspire and re-energise the depressing state of child protection systems revealed by Panorama.
Paul Z Jackson
I have been deeply shocked and angered following the case of baby Peter. It still saddens me to hear Ed Balls talking about group review panels and giving social workers an identity within their career field and prattling on about teachers when what we need is more social workers and assistants. If they didn't make it so hard to become a social worker for people with relevant life skills, not just school leavers. If the focus was on the child's safety and not the family or completing paper work if a social worker or the police believe that child needs to be moved away from the family then it should be done and follow up work completed and group reviews undertaken when the child is safe. We cannot afford to be politically correct with our children lives, and a delay in response is further damage to that child's mental and physical being! We have to stop the neglect and abuse circle by standing up to it and saying NO, not working softly with these people! One child's life is too many! There is no excuse, this is the ultimate betrayal of the British public's trust!
Despite media coverage of incidents where children have been removed from their homes for reasons subsequently deemed to be unsubstantiated or incorrect I believe that the vast majority of people cannot understand the reluctance of Social Services to bring cases to court, or the official line that families should be kept together wherever possible. In a letter to me last December Baroness Delyth Morgan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families said: "The Department does not hold information on how many places could potentially be available (for children removed from their homes) at any one point. It is for local authorities to ensure that there is sufficient and diverse accommodation to meet the needs of the looked after children in their area". I believe that the lack of safe, secure places for abused or neglected children is the reason for the aforementioned official line, although this aspect of child abuse stories is never pursued by journalists.
So many things highlighted in the Baby P case are beyond belief I don't know where to start. The quote that "Haringey council maintained that it took appropriate action to protect the baby, but said its social workers were duped by his mother," is utterly ridiculous. Social workers are educated people, it can safely be assumed that they are more intelligent than the majority of the parents of the children they are supposed to be protecting. It would appear that some of them (or their bosses) are perhaps are lacking in basic common sense. Also utterly ridiculous is the statement, I think in reference to Surrey council that "the most vulnerable children are prioritised" - surely ALL the children on the child protection are vulnerable, otherwise they wouldn't be on the register in the first place? Or am i missing something? I know they have to prioritise somehow but I cant understand how they can think that any child on the register is even remotely safe. I know that removing children from their families is extremely traumatic and that social services try to keep families together but there has to be a point when it is NOT in the best long term interests of the children. Maybe part of the problem is that some social workers are too scared of the families that they are dealing with to actually get down on their level and challenge them; to use the bathroom and check if there is an extra toothbrush or shower gel; to pry in the rest of the house, not just sit in the living room and not even ask to see the child out of the buggy or highchair. It is infuriating to see clearly (with no training except being a parent) where they went wrong with Baby P. My friend is a social worker and I fully sympathise that they are overstretched and that some of the rules and red tape are unworkable and ridiculous at times and i know there are a lot of good social workers out there, but even the good ones are being let down by parts of the system. The sad thing is, despite all the media coverage of the Baby P case, this happens every week somewhere in the country and it will keep happening.
I am appalled. At the way the social services system is methodically being destroyed by people and journalists like Jeremy Vine. The persons responsible for the child's death were the mother et al; not a social services system that WILL NEVER be foolproof. Mr Vine is helping to produce a system that is so deep in political-correctness and scape-goating that it is unlikely ever to improve its record. Mr Vine, and Mr Balls should be ashamed.
Dr Ian Smith