Guernsey: too well off to care?
Friday 8th March 2013, 2:46PM GMT.
ONE of the more disturbing reports was released yesterday by the Islands Child Protection Committee that reveals around 40 local children needed protection after being found to be suffering from physical neglect.
This means they did not have the basics like adequate food or clothing. Take into account those youngsters who didn’t quite make the ‘care’ threshold and those who haven’t been identified and it is a depressing indictment on this society.
Guernsey is frequently hailed as an affluent or wealthy community and a fantastic place to have and to bring up children.
It is – if you have money. If not, it is a particularly miserable place in which to be in relative or absolute poverty.
And looking at the statistics in the ICPC’s report, it is difficult not to see the influence of that divided society at work in the cases of neglect and deprivation – or wonder at the worsening of the situation.
Because so many people are doing relatively so well, the divisions between those who are not aren’t only financial, they are also emotional and psychological. Perhaps that’s why the child abuse due to violence and drink or drugs is also rising.
Guernsey is allegedly committed to tackling relative poverty. We say ‘allegedly’ because there is little evidence of progress. And in the absence of it, the likelihood is that it has got worse.
When the Townsend report was released in 2002 it showed that 3,000 households here were poor – some 16%.
Given the credit crisis, job losses and absence of pay rises, will that shameful figure have improved or got worse?
In many respects, this is a hidden problem. The decision-makers and their advisers do not rub shoulders with those for whom a half-million pound home, two cars and overseas holidays isn’t an aspiration but a daily, biting reminder of failure and isolation. No wonder the children suffer.
Government resisted even looking at relative poverty. Faced with the proof that it exists and is worse than expected, still nothing has been done, although Housing and Social Security did try.
Perhaps the brutal truth is that this community of haves doesn’t care about the have nots.
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