Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fat is now a Child Protection Issue

I watched a rather depressing programme last night about this kid who aged 8 weighs 15 stone.

The kid lives with his 18 year old (normal sized) sister and his mum. Mum is obviously chronically depressed and unable to face the day without having a smoke under the bed covers first thing each day. The house is filthy, probably due to the chip fat which must be inches thick on the kitchen walls. Grandma has to come round every day or otherwise the 8 year old would never get out to school; he can't even dress himself being for example unable to reach his feet to put his shoes and socks on. He misses about a quarter of his schooling anyway. I suspect mum finds it easier to let him stay away. He will get bullied if he goes I suppose, but by not going he sits at home eating and therefore gets fatter - a vicious circle indeed.

Today there is a Child Protection Conference to decide if he should be taken into care. He won't be. The law says kids are best off with their natural families except in extreme cases of abuse, and some one will stand up and point to how much his mum and nan love him, never mind that their way of demonstrating their love - giving him more food - means they are killing him. He will get additional input from social workers and health professionals, but that will be undermined by his family giving in to his demands at home. As usual the professionals have left it too late to take effective action, and will already have given mum very many 'last' chances.*

I know this might sound cynical. Easy for me to say stop buying the sodding biscuits and crisps. (At least if he was forced to steal them he would get some exercise because he would be forced to walk to the shop to do his lifting...and maybe to run away afterwards pursued by store detective)I do have sympathy for his mum who is clearly in need of medical help herself.

When I was at primary school there was only one fat child in the school. We were all told it wasn't her fault, it was her 'glands' and we didn't bully her - we felt sorry for her. The programme ended with a comment from Trevor MacDonald that the kid will be seeing a specialist this week to ascertain if he too has a medical problem. It took 8 years for them to think he might have a medical problem??? I despair!

Of course, one person got off very lightly (if lightly is an appropriate word to use in this context). Where was dad? Yes, families break up, but does that mean that his dad has no responsibility to call round at weekends and take his son out to kick a ball around, ride a bike or just go out walking?

We are told that in a few years time something like 1 in 6 of all our British kids will be obese. Do we propose the answer is to take all these children into care? Or do we post health monitors on full time duty in the families with plump kids? Not with the resources local authorities have we don't. I think we have a whole generation - if not 2 generations - who have lost parenting skills. They no longer know how to cook basic nutrious meals, let alone how to sya 'No' to their little darlings. ( I know this isn't exactly a healthy food item but as an aside I think in 20 years time no one still living will know how to make pastry - it will all be purchased ready made).

Initiatives on healthy eating and promoting exercise as fun seem to me to be bolting the proverbial door after the horse has well and truly legged it. Gawd knows. May be we just give up and start making public transport seats wider right now. But there is something horribly sobering in the fact that our kids may have a shorter life expectancy than we have due to the life styles so many of us live today.

* I don't know this of course. I am just making assumptions based on my own previous experience.


Stegbeetle said...

I've pontificated at some length in the past about the lack of parenting skills on display in society today.
It all boils down to people refusing to accept that when they have kids, then they may have to put someone else's wants and needs before theirs. When they don't, kids are fed whatever is quick and easy and then turfed out of the house "so you're not under my feet" or sat in front of the telly "because it keeps them quiet" and the results you can see all around you.
If "some people" would accept that they have a responsibility to actually parent their children rather than just reproduce and then go back to their hedonistic,self-serving little lives then the world might just not be going to Hell in a hand-basket quite so quickly.
*steps down from soapbox*

Arthur Clewley said...

when I was young we were warned that if offered sweets from a stranger we should run away, so there was concern about childrens' BMI even back then. Back then there was also one fat child in our school who was known as fatty **insert surname** ( I don't even remember what her real first name was )and when she approached a group of other children they they would shout something like 'oh no, here comes fatty **surname** ! and run away in feigned terror. There was a point to this comment when I started but I can't remember what it was now, but I think it was somethinglike I don't see why it is of so much concern to civil servants whether people are fat or thin, short or tall, or wear their socks inside out. Even an 8 year old knows cakes make you fat and it's him that has to live with it, and all the while all those folks are discussing that lads cookie consumption there's a victoria climbie getting seven shades of shit beaten out of him or her, but what do I know..( I didn't see the documentry but he was on look north, our local news, trampolining)

Yorkshire Pudding said...

We seem to be heading the way of America where fatness can be beyond belief. I once found myself inadvertently trapped in a urinal between two very fat guys in upstate New York. I had to wait till they'd shaken their dinkies - appendages that they probaly hadn't observed in donkeys years.
That poor young lad! It's not his fault he has grown into a wobbly lump of whale blubber. Personally I blame social workers for ignoring his special needs. They're buggers you know those bloody social workers! I also blame them for the war in Iraq and that train derailment in Scotland last weekend.

Steve said...

I was in Morrisons today, in the sweet aisle - looking for extra strong mints - and next to me was an obviously educated and prosperous 30 - something woman with a child of about four or five.

The nipper was bawling and sobbing and demanding sweets.

To her credit the mother refused and took her out of the aisle.

As she went however, she said something along the lines of:- "Oh I'm sorry poppet, it mummy's fault for taking you down that aisle."

To which I thought: "The world's gone mad."

J.J said...

Stegbeetle - the things I see in my work with families continue to leave me completely horrified and make me think there is much to be said in favour of compulsory sterilisation - and I call myself a liberal!

Arthur, one rather feared for that trampoline.

YP - it is always the fault of social workers and/or teachers!

Steve. You should have notified one of my colleagues at once - a child taken down the sweet aisle and not allowed any - cruel and unnatural child abuse!!!