Thursday, 1 August 2013

Daniel Pelka - at this stage there are more questions than answers

David Tucker, head of policy at the NSPCC, is right to say that we need to understand what was happening between the school and Children's Social Care in the lead up to Daniel’s death.

The crucial questions will concern whether or not a child protection referral was made to Children’s Social Care and, if so, what decisions were taken.

At this stage we are told that a previous concern, involving a broken arm, had been investigated. Apparently no cause for concern was found at that stage. Subsequently Daniel’s condition is said to have deteriorated substantially during his first six months at school. He was said to have lost a great deal of weight and to have been found searching bins for food. We are told that his mother told the school he had a rare eating disorder.

Reports speak of various medical and education professionals being involved, but we are not given the details. It is not clear at this stage whether Children’s Social Care became involved as a result of the concerns expressed by the school.

I was sorry to read that a representative of the teacher’s union NASUWT is reported as already blaming the reduction in the amount of government child protection guidance. The BBC quotes her as saying: "Since 2010, when the government reduced red tape in the child protection system, a number of things have hit the floor that were there to protect not only children but teachers as well.”

I cannot believe that when a child is in obvious distress, as seems to have been the case here, people need a regulation to be able to act. Anybody who has a reason to believe that a child is being abused or neglected should act immediately and report her/his concerns without delay.