Monday, October 24, 2005

would you buy a used car from this kid?

I still consider myself a foster-carer, in spite of my indefinite suspension due to this nasty allegation, and so issues of child abuse, society and the law always tweak my attention, both because of what has been done to me and for broader fostery reasons.

So I was very interested to hear criminologist Caroline Taylor being reported on the ABC news as claiming that child abuse isn’t being prosecuted as it should, and that children’s concerns aren’t being sufficiently believed and acted upon. Having listened to the audio of, among other things, Taylor’s own experience of having been abused as a child, both by a family member and later by the legal system, I can understand her frustration with the law. However, I’m naturally seeing things from another perspective. It’s a fraught area and I for one would endorse the idea of setting up a specialist court, especially if it brings about a speedier and more focused process. These numerous adjournments and delays must be particularly distressing for teenagers, assuming they’re exposed to the process at all.

In my case, the most frustrating thing about it is that, if the adversarial approach was jettisoned, and everybody – lawyers, foster-carers, parents, social workers, police, agency reps, medical staff, previous carers – were brought together to actually ascertain the truth behind this allegation, it would probably be resolved in a matter of hours, or a few days at most. As it is, my lawyer has prepared me for an end-date to this piece of preposterousness, some two years hence. But of course there are lots of cases besides mine, and everybody’s very very busy…

There's also a worry about databases, so regularly mooted. Who goes on the database - convicted child abusers or the merely accused? It's a delicate area - what's called child abuse can range from the egregious and sickening to borderline cases which might simply involve misunderstanding, cases where the likelihood of re-offending is small. My own current situation makes me worry about the witch-hunt mentality, naturally.


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