Monday, June 11, 2012

Actually, leaving a child behind is a big deal

Twitter is full of people saying that we shouldn't be talking about David and Samantha Cameron leaving their 8 year old child behind in a pub.  Not a big deal. There are much bigger issues like Syria and the economy that we should be talking about and this is a mere distraction. In fact, some suggest that it's a deliberate distraction to take our minds of various top Tories' forthcoming appearances at Leveson.

Do you know what? Our brains can take it. We can think of more one thing at a time. And it is a big deal that an 8 year old was left on her own in a pub or anywhere else when they were expecting to be going home with their family. The adults in the party outnumbered the children - there would have been David, Samantha and their protection officers and surely it wasn't beyond the wit of them to check that all 3 children were accounted for.

Now, nothing went wrong. They were lucky. But they mucked up big time. I am absolutely disgusted with them. I would be saying exactly the same if it were Nick Clegg who had left one of his kids behind. It's not funny. What if she'd gone outside on her own to look for her parents and been knocked down by a car? The possibilities are endless.

If I had done something so monumentally stupid, I would be absolutely mortified. It wouldn't be all over the papers, but it would be a serious thing.

But just imagine if some unemployed single mother had left her child in a pub after lunch with her boyfriend. I am certain that the tabloid press would be ripping her to bits. It doesn't matter who does it, what their background is, it's utterly wrong and they should be ashamed of themselves. There are no excuses.

I'm not saying that any sort of action should be taken, but I think we are well within our rights to criticise the Camerons. To be fair, they are probably criticising themselves. The whole incident and reaction does show how as  society we are so adult orientated, how we don't see things from children's point of view and how we justify extremely poor parenting practice. Look at "sleep training", a euphemism for cruelty if ever there was one, as an example. There is no justification on any level for ever leaving a vulnerable human being in distress in my opinion, yet if your baby doesn't sleep through the night at a very early age, your health visitor will tell you to leave him or her to cry it out on a like it or lump it basis. There are no alternatives offered. This latest study from Texas is the latest in a long line which indicate that this is harmful.

Now, Nancy Cameron came to no harm, her mortified parents will no doubt be waking up in a cold sweat for weeks thinking about what could have happened, and they'll learn from the experience. That child will never be left anywhere again. However, we do our kids a disservice if we fail to recognise that this was a huge error. There's nobody more prolific than David Cameron at preaching to others about taking responsibility for their actions, after all.


Hywel said...

"What if she'd gone outside on her own to look for her parents and been knocked down by a car?"

Anything is possible - but she is 8 and you usually have a reasonable bit of road sense at that age.

I was walking home on my own from school when I was that age - how is that different?

Unknown said...

That's a bit different - so did I. But we knew what te plan was, we knew where we had to go & it was all familiar.

Nancy would have expected her parents to be waiting for her & found they weren't. That's a lot to deal with when you're 8. I wouldn't put Anna through it now.

I wouldn't put Bob through it either to be honest.

Nic said...

I have to say, I agree. It is a big deal.

I remember being Nancy's age and going shopping with my mum and stopping to look at something and mum being too absorbed in the shopping too notice, continued on and moved to another aisle and be being incredibly anxious about whether she would leave without me, thankfully I always found my mum before that happened.

I don't know if by 8, I'd become more used to it and a bit more grown up.

Keith Browning said...

Over large stretches of the planet the word 'kidnap' would be the first word to be uttered when a head of state's child went missing.

What were the security services playing at - unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you said. But in addition to the responsibilities of the parents, even for people as 'important' as the Camerons with much on their minds, there is the fact that we are paying for them to have security... round the clock, wherever they are.

What were the security people doing? What if the kid had been abducted by the Provos or Al Qa'eda and they didn't notice till later?

I'm sure Cameron at one stage gave us a lecture on parenting, didn't he?

On a lighter note, I guess. Cameron is well known for U-turns (a sign of strength), so it won't have been too difficult for him to turn the car round when he arrived at his country estate, and head back to the boozer, the way he came!!


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