Observations Life and Death

The blame game

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b7 (Published 06 January 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b7

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  1. Iona Heath, general practitioner, London
  1. aque22{at}dsl.pipex.com

    Bureaucratic tinkering seems a feeble response to a problem as profound as the killing of children

    In the wake of the horrific abuse and subsequent death of Baby P, the government has again commissioned the undoubtedly well meaning Lord Laming to review arrangements for safeguarding children and has initiated another investigation of procedures, interagency working, and accountability. The familiar mantra suggests that the solution to the age old problem of killing of children can be found in the bureaucratic arrangements of the caring professions. This seems a profound underestimate of the nature of the problem and even begins to evoke the philosopher and poet George Santayana’s definition of fanaticism as “redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.”

    Looking after small children is challenging, and many cohesive couples wonder how single parents begin to cope. Yet the number of parents and other child carers who have come close to harming the children in their care seems to vastly outnumber those who are prepared to admit to this disturbing predicament, and perhaps …

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