Friday, 3 June 2011

Speech to Rally Trafalgar Square June 4th 2011

This is the text of a speech I was to deliver at the Rally Against Child Abuse, hosted by Truth and Hope, on June 4th, 2011 @ Trafalgar Square. 

I was also asked to deliver a message to the gathering from Kevin Annett, my friend whose pioneering research unveiled to the world the full horror and extent of the Canadian Indian Residential School System, and forced the Canadian Government and those Christian Churches involved in running that system to finally and grudgingly acknowledge what was done in the name of the Canadian tax-payer,  and of 'civilisation'. His work continues, as does mine, with regard to a full and open accounting for these crimes, and a demand that Society address it's profound lack of empathy and it's resultant adverse behaviour.

There was not time enough to do both. I read Kevin's message, and have published the text of the speech here.....

Child protection is many things.

One of the things it is not and never should be is a set of regulations to be followed willy nilly,  so often 'following orders' whilst ignoring the distress that the enforcement of ill-designed bureaucratic rules results in, because they reduce what ought to be a humane interaction to the ticking of boxes, the filling of forms, the application of formulae, the submission of the human being to an order that is un-natural, and ultimately the rejection of the meaning of the lived experience of children and their parents.

Child Protection must be something far deeper than the dry application of the Law, the provision of a Service, and above all it must be humane, empathic and acutely sensitive to the natural needs of the children, the natural needs of families, of parents and of their communities. 

It takes a village to raise a child. Parents MUST BE SUPPORTED in every way possible.

Child protection, if it is to have any meaning, has to recognise a number of key biological realities.

These realities are felt by most mothers, most fathers and not least, well understood by many Scientists researching the biologically mandated developmental realities concerning the consciousness of babies, in the womb, in infancy and throughout childhood development.

Science and Reality meet in best practice. 

Most parents are doing their best. Under the circumstances.

The Reality is this : The Human Child is expecting to emerge into an empathic and nurturing Society.  The Institutions of our Society are neither in great measure. These are the circumstances that mitigate against natural development.

Our Biology is clear: we observe the presence of mirror neurons, which fire the same neural networks that would be required to make the movements that have been observed, that have been seen, and this tells us yet again, that empathy is very much a multi-sensory ability that is innate, intrinsic and absolutely fundamental to the human being. That is to say, that what we experience is written into our physiology, our neurology. The environment in which we grow is of vital importance, and nature has much to offer in this regard. So much to offer.

Empathy is our most basic nature, not fear. We learn best through love. Self empathy is the basis for empathy with others.

The image of mankind as a potentially rampaging, self destructive mass is a fundamental error. Original Sin and The Fall are fables, malign metaphors, and  they do not describe the biological reality at all.


We know that love starts with loving oneself, with self-empathy.

What we also know through experience and through developmental Science, that from within the womb, through birth, infancy and childhood, the development of empathy, as is the case for the development of any other aspect of the child, requires certain biologically mandated experiences that nurture that development.

Being treated with empathy nurtures empathy in the child.

There is a multi-sensory bonding, an experiential process of securing one’s sense of self and this is a learning process, one that is biologically mandated, a process which if disrupted leads to pathology. It cannot be stated any clearer than this:

If Society damages the natural empathic child, then Society will create empathically damaged people, who will potentially repeat the cycle. If those people build Institutions, make rules, effectively codifying their own neuroses into the common lore, they will repeat the cycles.

If ANY Society permits these bonding experientials to be disrupted, then that Society is creating the pathologies that ensue from that disruption.

Where is the empathy and nurturance in our Societal Institutions?

And, as we, the Survivors and the distressed, are all too familiar with, it is those people who are harmed and who suffer, who present the symptoms, which we know as symptoms of distress,  which in truth reveal the presence of Societal pathogens, yet which Society labels as disease, or worse, as dysfunctional behaviour to be judged, who are then scape-goated by this exclusive and judgemental diagnosis. 

If the Society itself is not also diagnosed as part of the problem, and then treated accordingly, and that means a change in the behaviour of Power, of Societal Institutions, then those who suffer the most, and reveal the trauma creation that Society is responsible for, are yet again betrayed.

This omission is the essence of institutional cruelty. Society blames the Survivor. It cannot stand. This is why we are here today.

Institutional Care Protocols, Policies and behaviours cause more harm than good. The proof of this is the re-currant intergenerational trauma patterns, transmitted through each successive generation. The wounds of the fathers and mothers are visited upon the children, because the fathers and mothers are not given the healing support they need and because the judgementalism of Social Services and Organised Religion and adversarial family courts prevails.

Thus the question arises.

Is what we, as a Society, are doing truly Nurturant?

Is what is being done to the Survivors, to parents under stress, by the Institutions of Society truly Nurturant?

How can it be considered Nurturant to NOT support parents whose lives may well be influenced by intergenerational trauma patterns, whose lives may well include incredibly difficult circumstances, such as poverty, sudden bereavement, perhaps even severe trauma, circumstances beyond their control and for whom the ensuing symptoms of these difficulties can make a prison even of what was formerly a home.

The evidence is clear: Institutional Care does not work in the best interests of the children when they remove children from their homes, and when they do not support and assist parents who are stressed and under pressure to the extent that is required and is relatively easy and inexpensive to implement?

The National Coalition for the Reform of Child Protection Services in the USA has helped three states avoid removals of children, by providing the kinds of support that works best for families, for children, their parents and ultimately, for Society. Their work shows some of the possibilities. They have saved State Government many millions of dollars, both on frontline care and in terms of outcomes requiring intervention in later life.

Why is the UK Child Protection System so judgemental, so secretive, so ill informed, so far behind the curve on what really works for children, for parents, for communities and ultimately for Society?

Why does UK official policy mis-interpret the truth that whilst neglect and abuse occur, that their presence has more to do with the kind of Society into which people are born and to which they are forced to conform to, than it does the kinds of people who  are born, who grow up in and become parents in a Society that does not support natural empathic parenting. That lack of adequate support fro nurturant parenting eats away at the very heart of what it is to be human, to be a child of life.

Economics, with which most officials are obsessed, is not the measure of a good life.

Why are those influences, that affect so many peoples lives so adversely, left out of the diagnoses of ‘at risk parents’ when it is OBVIOUS that these influences are very much part of the causality and indicate the societal pathology which these parents reveal as they present these symptoms?

Who benefits from this persistent refusal to admit a holistic diagnosis?

Is that refusal not irrational, or even insane, in and of itself?

Do we not meet this irrationality in our lives, every day?

Are we not the living witnesses to this cruelty, we who have suffered as children and continue to suffer as adults the adverse affects of this Institutionalised, legalised, codified lack of empathy, through no personal weakness within ourselves?

Are we not correct to demand that justice be fully served where real harm and loss has  occurred, and are we not also to make of our efforts a call, a cry from the heart, to place empathy at the very core of how our Society relates to all children?

Who will join this call?

We ask : Will you join this work?

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