I see we ended 2014 by being potential child abusers again.
Personally, I blame the NSPCC.
There's an election looming, right? We can expect, like all large organisations needing government support, the NSPCC will ready itself alongside the main parties, so everyone's able to do business straight off: they must all be in 'policy position'.
Whichever government forms, interested organisations must be able to 'deliver' a quick win in 2015. A positive-headline grabbing solution to one of society's problems. In the child abuse scenario, we're looking at a win for the NSPCC and a Win for a new government. Joe&Joanna Public will be grateful how those in power are 'doing something at last!'
It helps if you can encourage the problem in the first place, obviously. They have just four months now to dig that problem into your consciousness.
Unfortunately, there hasn't been a problem about home educators abusing their children. On balance, the responses I've had from the general public have been positive. Most people seem to understand that we've taken on a big educational responsibility and they give us a big thumbs up.
But that's not much of a problem-story if you're trying to organise a policy-solution.
Hence the continuous plugging away at home educators on the basis of suspicion. Tell those local council employees, time and time again, how home ed is not really about education, this is about abuse. Remind everyone how 'Home schooling' is just a Cover. The vulnerable children of 'home-schoolers' are 'falling through the net'.
Throw enough mud, see if it sticks, and come up with the solution you wanted all along. Monitoring, surveillance, registration.
The NSPCC/Corporate friendly solution will then involve headlines about how many children have been 'saved' by new regulations; how many children have been rescued from fates worse than death! Yes, we got inside those 'hidden homes' and found out what those so-called 'home educators' were really up to. We activated our solution!
That dealt with the problem.
As for the kids who are really being trafficked, sold into slaveries, denied freedoms and rights, beaten up and used by adults? We can't obviously find these children, because it's flippin' difficult.
Take the simple 'solution' of school, where 'all kids can be seen'. As a classroom teacher, you can't know, looking round your class, which kids are being abused sexually, emotionally, or physically at home.
You might have suspicions. But no way could a teacher point a finger or press Social Services Nuclear without very good ground and while standing alongside teams and teams of people.
You people who imagine that teachers can simply observe a child and
activate a care solution? They can't. It's all more complex than you're
led to believe. Within hours of raising concerns (I did) the response in my case was to tell me it's confidential of course, all being dealt with, I didn't need to know any more, carry on as normal. The child stayed through school, looking haunted and miserable for years and, as far as I knew, nothing changed. Perhaps it did. But if some form of intervention did happen, and if it was successful, you could hardly slap the case across the Daily Record, could you?
But home educators? They are easy targets. We already have a newspaper headline reserved for us. We already have a folk-character as the 'anti-authority wrong-un'. The story then goes, a light needs to be shone on our dodgy dealings. We're 'hidden'.
The fact is that my home educated kids, like thousands of others in your land, are out on your streets, in your scout huts, village halls, community centres, museums, galleries, shops, parks, seasides, and transport systems.
I know the argument then goes, well, these kids obviously aren't learning anything because they're not sat at desks.
Home ed kids are not learning about society? How people work together, what needs, interests, desires bind us? They're not learning how to fit in, how to shape events, have a voice and be a part of debates, even when they are right in this society, right in the heart of it, taking part in it?
Well, at this point, my radical suggestion is, don't believe everything you read in the newspapers, especially when it's supplied by large organisations with a vested interest in solving a problem.
The election looms not only for the main parties but for all those large (and small) organisations and corporates who do business with governments: the interests who provide oil to the machines, the backing, support, infrastructure, and whisper of all the social problems they can readily solve.
So this is not an educational debate. It's a battle of interests. A competition for power. And in it, whose responsibility is your child?