Thursday, 22 October 2009

Mind your Language

In each adolescent care home a daily log book must be kept. This is a statutory requirement. There are also separate daily logs kept for each individual adolescent. However, one can’t simply write what one experiences in a working day in these log books. This is because social services object to what they call ‘harsh’ or ‘judgmental’ language. Frontline staff are expected to write up daily reports about the events in their respective care homes about each young person as if they inhabit some kind of morally objective universe where no one makes any kind of judgments or has any kind of standards. So, just what can be construed as ‘harsh’ or ‘judgmental’ language by those on high in social services? Here’s an example from the care home where the feral and violently dangerous Liam resides.

On Tuesday afternoon of last week, Liam was taken out shopping with his clothing allowance when he should have been at his own private school at the back of the house. However, he was being rewarded for having ‘chosen’ to go to school in the morning for an hour. ‘Choosing’ to stay in a classroom for one hour is viewed as a success as the standards of behaviour and compliance are set so low for Liam that he can’t but help to live up to them. He returned later in the evening with lots of new clothes and was only averagely verbally abusive to staff for the rest of the day.

On the Wednesday, Liam ‘chose’ not to go to school for the entire day and was rewarded by being given a walk in the countryside, as well as the hiring of a rowing boat on a lake at a local stately home. This was called an ‘educational outing’ in the paperwork at the end of the day. I can understand the teacher’s rationale. Sit in a class with a feral and aggressive lout twice your size who throws things at you and insults you or take him out walking in the countryside where with any luck he might get trod on by a bull. I know which choice I’d be making.

Anyway, having his every whim pandered to up until the early afternoon had set a precedent for the rest of the day. Liam demanded to be taken back out clothes shopping with the remaining twenty pounds left in his clothing allowance from the day before. I was going to walk with Liam to the train station and head to town with him as instructed by management. Liam still wasn’t happy in that there was no driver or car available to drop us both at the train station as they were out with the other delinquents somewhere else. Liam demanded that we get the support worker with the car back immediately to drive him to the station to get the train. Liam was told this wouldn’t be happening. He then proceeded to smash up the house. He tore several paintings off the wall, he threw a clock at myself and the manager but luckily missed, he later assaulted the manager, he spat in my face and later that evening grabbed me by the throat and he also spent a good hour trying to kick the office door down. For all of these horrific actions Liam was informed he would lose his one pound incentive money for good behaviour that day. He had already lost a pound for not going to school. He shouldn’t be bribed to do these things in the first place. He can earn up to twenty pound a week in bribes and this is before his pocket money or money set aside for weekly activities such as the cinema, bowling and amusement parks.

Liam is what used to be called a spoilt brat. He is in care because his Mother never disciplined him, his father left home when he was young and Liam learned to get his way by throwing tantrums and as he got older his tantrums became violent outbursts. Liam’s mother had the option of putting him in to care as the British state allows people to voluntarily abandon their responsibilities. Having been given no boundaries in the home, a form of neglect with far reaching social ramifications, the state has continued in the same vein by medicalising Liam’s behaviour by diagnosing him with two fictitious conditions. They are ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. These diagnoses are used by care management and social services to excuse Liam’s behaviour and to allow them an excuse for not successfully enforcing boundaries and discipline. Of course, I’m not suggesting this is a conspiracy to assist the state in abdicating it’s duty once the child is in care but it conveniently allows no one to be held culpable for Liam’s behaviour. At the end of the day Liam is the victim of a society that no longer enforces boundaries or instills discipline and respect in the young. Children and young people need boundaries, consequences and discipline to grow in to healthy and functional adults.

Whilst Liam might not be held responsible for any of his actions whilst in care the staff certainly are for theirs. The day after he thrashed the house and assaulted staff including myself I went to wake him for school. I went in to his room and called him. I was standing about three feet from his bed and repeatedly asked him, politely of course, I wouldn’t want him to log a complaint, to get up. He pulled the blankets over his head, ignored me and turned around to face the wall. It was a welcome change from the usual barrage of abuse and threats.

A few minutes after trying to awaken Liam from his well deserved rest after the previous day’s delinquent indulgences I wrote an entry in the daily log. It stated: “I went in to Liam’s room and attempted to wake him, he pretended to be deaf and ignored my requests to get up.” An hour after entering this in the daily log I was called in to the office by the manager. She politely informed me that what I had written would be viewed as ‘judgmental’ and ‘harsh’ language by social services in that I was “making a presumption” and “jumping to conclusions without being sure they were the facts,” according to my manager. I told her I was there and watched him ignore me but still my word and observations based on common sense were not valid as they were my opinions and not the facts as I couldn’t know for certain that he pretended to be deaf or had ignored me. I was going to argue with her but I didn’t bother. I have learned by now that this whole sector is infected with an institutional and ideological form of insanity and sometimes I haven’t the energy to argue with the insane. Another member of staff was reprimanded that day for writing that Becky was ‘‘sulking’’ as this too is ‘oppressive’ language. Liam however escaped any verbal censures for the previous day’s escapades but was told he could go on a trip to a leisure centre on Saturday if he managed to behave until then, thus inculcating him with the belief that one behaves appropriately, not because there is an inherent value in good behaviour, but because it entitles you to be indulged and rewarded with entertainment of one kind or another.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

To be honest not giving them so much money would probably work.

Lancastrian Oik said...

Absolutely spot bollock on as usual- "I have learned by now that this whole sector is infected with an institutional and ideological form of insanity and sometimes I haven’t the energy to argue with the insane". Damn right.

Anonymous said...

Hi Winston

Another good post, full of common sense. ("The problem with commomn sense is that it's not very common").

What a f***ing mess. The Guardianistas, however, will never allow change, they've taken over the public sector and the voluntary sector, and they are the quangocrats and "managers" who award themselves large salaries to deal with the problems they themselves have created, and live in expensive suburbs far away from the areas where the problems they have created manifest themselves. "Call me Dave" won't be any different. I'm sad to say I don't think anything will change soon, not while the left-wingers control things. It's up to all of us to take back the institutions they've taken over. On the other hand, I can't really be bothered. I worked as a Finance Officer in a youth centre in inner-city London, and the amount of left-wing bulls**t and "policies" etc one had to endure on a daily basis drove me to distraction: most others just shrugged, they were just looking for their salary at the end of the month. Eventually, you'll have an argument with the "bosses" and they'll drive you out.
Hats off to you, though, Winston, for sticking it out, we can only fight from within, as the lefties knew long ago.

Anonymous said...

Glad to have you back Winston, love the blogg, please keep up the excellent work.

Is it any bloody wonder we have the problems we do in this country, when we allow our young people to have the upper hand like this? What that lad needs is not just his pocket money stopping, he needs someone to wipe the floor with him.

The problem is that we have removed punishments that actually scare youngsters. There are no punishments or consequences for their actions, so they think they can do as they please. Added to which when you have adults cowing down to them and being afraid to criticise them, or challenge them, it's no wonder they do the things they do.

Until we get a backbone and go back to putting children and young people in their place, which is to say that they don't question the authority of adults (except where it is dangerous, or sexually abusive) and they simply do as they are told these problems will continue.

Over the last 20 plus years we have erroded the power, control and discipline that adults have over our young people until it has come back to bite us.

Stop trying to be best buddies with kids and young people and go back to being their elders and betters. People who are in charge of them, not their best mates.

Dave

Anonymous said...

Winston: I have been following your diary of travails for sometime now and find myself shuddering in disgust at the behavior you document. My wife is a British national who pines to return to that "sceptred isle" from here in Canada to raise our 6 year old daughter. The thought scares the shit out of me. While Canada is no utopia, it isn't infested with political correctness to the degree the UK is...yet.
I don't frankly know how you can continue working in an environment that you describe. It is truly scary.

Maturecheese said...

Hats off for even working in that sector. As for nasty comments re your posts, I think you will find that most 'normal' people would be in agreement with your opinions.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your bosses. It is important for the log to be factual. I think you should be distinguish observations from interpretations. I would have thought "I spoke to Liam and received no response. He rolled over which I interpreted as him being awake". Would be reasonable.

If your bosses want to know what you think, they can just read your blog.

Anonymous said...

Winston, once again I am left to wonder how you put up with all this crap. But what I really wonder is, did Britain fall down a rabbit hole into some alternate universe? Who are the people who come up with such PC rubbish, completely out of touch with reality and seemingly devoid of any understanding of basic human nature, how did they gain so much power and what can be done to stop them? Perhaps THEY should be sterilised to stop them breeding.

WinstonSmith33 said...

Anonymous above,you are splitting hairs and being pedantic. You are obviously suffering from the 'ideological insanity' I talked about in my last post.

Surely finding ways to help the likes of Liam should be our concern rather than ensuring the newspeak of social services and ofsted is observed.

Anonymous said...

I think that's what irritating you the most - that these people are fucking everything up but they are worried about how you write the log books.

Does Liam see his Mom? Is there anyone, besides you and your colleagues who are paid to look after him, actually come to see him. Does anybody give a fuck about him?

Just wondering.....

Lilliput

WinstonSmith33 said...

Liam sees his Mum every two weeks. He gets driven to her house, about 60 miles from the care home, and then picked up. His Mum cares about him she just never knew how to care for him and give him boundaries and discipline which all kids need as well as affection and support.

I care for him and want the best for him. I facetiously make snide remarks on here about the lad but this is just cathartic banter. I treat him with respect but without being able to discipline him we are
deprivng him of an aspect of socialisation required to be a functional adult.

Anonymous said...

Another spot on article Winston. I have commented before as I was part of the care system when younger and am now a decent citizen with no criminal record, a family and a good career. That was down in no small part to certain individuals within the care system who took the time to educate me and make me aware of the results of my selfish actions and intentions. These young kids are being failed not by you and your colleagues but by the Bosses who do not allow you to help them, they fail to understand that for some reason. I am walking proof that discipline does work, I got so used to it I joined up and had a great career. Unfortunately it seems you are not allowed to do such things these days as it may offend the little darlings too much. I share your frustration with the system, mainly because I know the opposite treatment to pandering to their every whim DOES work !!, and as for the sterilisation issue I agree with you wholeheartedly. My daughter has a friend who spends a lot of time with us, her parents are the very meaning of feckless. This girl is 15 and stared at a courgette she found in a casserole in our house the other night, she didnt know what it was. It was also an eye opener to us when our daughter said that her friend commented that the reason we grounded our daughter was "because they care, my parents dont know where I am half the time", discipline works. I know it, this girl knows it, you know it. If only your bosses would pull their heads out of their backsides long enough to see the reality of the world. Because it is actaully "harsh and judgemntal" by its very nature isnt it ??

tangywhisco said...

It's enough to make me bloody weep!

Anonymous said...

I continue to love reading your blog Winston. It absolutely beggars belief that this child can behave this way and get away with it. Losing £1 for trashing where he lives. For goodness sake... Just out of interest, did he have to tidy up any of the mess he had made? Sometimes I do worry about my blood pressure when I read your blog because I cannot believe what goes on in 'broken' Britain.

Bonny

WinstonSmith33 said...

Hi Bonny, Of course he didnt clean up after himself. He has servants called support workers who do everything for him and who have no power to give him what he needs i.e. boundaries, consequences and discipline.

TonyF said...

He should be put in a bare cell. With your bosses.


One of them will break....

subrosa said...

A post definitely worth a place on my Subrosa's Super Seven tomorrow.

I can't understand why social workers don't all just down tools and say, until their superiors get some common sense, they're not working. Is that too radical?

Any person of my age knows children need boundaries and understand the penalties of not adhering to them.

Idle Pen Pusher said...

Fascinating and illuminating post, Winston. And I agree with the conclusions. Welfarism has a lot to answer for.

However, while I think it's a matter of marginal importance, I would agree with the anonymous commenter above who agreed that the language should be more factual. It's perfectly possible to get across all the key points while remaining factually accurate.

Don't get me wrong: that seems tragically insignificant in comparison to the lack of discipline in terms the problems the child faces. Still - much better to get all the little things right so they can't trip you up on them and are forced to focus on the big issues.

Anonymous said...
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WinstonSmith33 said...
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Anonymous said...

Good piece, but seriously, do yourself a favour and GTFO of that career.

Pretty Little Thing said...

I think there is a future for you Winston, in a position where you can have real power to change these kids lives.