And Life Goes On

The random bloggings on what gets my goat!

Archive for the month “March, 2010”

Living with Alcoholic Parents

At least one million children in the UK are living with alcoholic parents, with up to 3.6million people in Britain scarred by the drinking of one or both parents.

Latest research estimates that there are at least one million children living with an alcoholic parent, but the true number is believed to be much higher. But because drinking is very much “the norm”, social workers often turn a blind eye, or do not even realise the seriousness of what is going on.

If a social worker were to enter the home of a heroin user, action would be taken, but if they were to be drinking, this will not even be recorded.

Children who grow up with alcoholic parents bear emotional, mental and behavioural scars, with 55% of domestic violence incidents happening in alcoholic homes and alcohol being a factor in as much as 90% of child abuse cases. The NSPCC states that 1 in 4 cases of neglect that is reported to them involves a drinking parent.

Alcoholism affects the entire family, especially the children. Children of alcoholics are 4 times more likely to become an alcoholic and 50% more likely to marry an alcoholic.

The late Mo Mowlam, whose father was an alcoholic stated the “hidden suffering” of families is getting worse as the excessive drinking increases.

We need to be more aware of the signs and give these families, especially the children more help and understanding of the issues they face and for social workers, doctors and teachers to be given training to be able to notice the signs early on to perhaps break this dangerous cycle.

NACOA – 0800 358 3456


Married Mums Who Feel Like Single Mums

Although I need to stress that I am happily married and I love my husband dearly, I do often feel that I am the one that takes care of everything.

Whilst, yes he is out working in order to pay the mortgage and bills etc, I too work, albeit part time as I then pick up the kids from school, clean the house, do their homework, do the washing, ironing and anything else that crops up!

My husband works hard, he started his own business a couple of years ago with 2 friends and they have to take the work as and when, but 7 days a week can be a pain. I feel like I am the main carer on my own as he is never really there to back me up or support me and when he is, if the girls ask him whether they can do something he tells them to ask me!!!!

Apparently, there is a nickname for women like me, FLASM, meaning married women who FEEL LIKE A SINGLE MUM! I am not saying I want to be a single Mum, I don’t, but it sure would be nice to get a bit of support here and there!

Utah Miscarriage Bill

In Utah, a woman allegedly asked a man to beat her up in order to bring on a miscarriage, this so appalled the Utah Senate so much so that they decided to push through a Bill that states that a woman will not be charged if she has a legal abortion but that she can be charged with murder if she “miscarries recklessly”!

This means in theory that you could be charged with murder if you fall down the stairs, drink while pregnant  or do not wear a seatbelt and are involved in a car crash and go on to lose your baby. Punishment can mean up to life in prison for an “intentional knowing, or reckless act” that leads to a miscarriage or abortion without a doctor’s supervision. All a D.A. would have to prove is that the woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she did not intend to lose her pregnancy.

So, if every miscarriage is a potential murder, will Utah then launch a criminal investigation every time a woman miscarries? Will there be a register that women will go on to report said miscarriages?

I myself had a miscarriage before my first daughter was born, I went through some serious psychological turmoil afterwards asking myself if there was anything that I could have done differently, was it my fault? So, under this Law, I would then have had to answer to a criminal investigation to determine whether I did anything that may have caused the miscarriage.

Some Senate Democrats have tried to have the wording on the Act amended to remove the word “reckless” from the list of criminal acts leading to miscarriage, by criminalising reckless acts, this leaves open the possibility that women face the possibility of prosecution if they suffer at the hands of domestic violence and return to their abusers, only to be beaten and lose their child.

How in this day and age is this possible?

Are Girls Ready for Babies at 14?

The author, Hilary Mantel has claimed that girls are ready to have babies when they are 14 years old. Mantel argues that “society ran on a male timetable that women should have babies at an older age”, she goes on to say, “There is this breed of women for whom society’s timetable is completely wrong”.

“I was perfectly capable of setting up and running a home when I was 14, and if say, it had been ordered differently, I might have thought ‘Now is the time to have a couple of children and when I am thirthy I will go back and I’ll get my PhD’, but society isn’t ordered with that kind of flexibility, we were being educated well into our twenties, an age when part of us wanted to become mothers, probably little bits of all of us. Sone were more driven than others”

The Government has a 10 year campaign to lower teenage pregnancy rates in Britain as there is growing concern that Britain still has the highest rates in western Europe.

Yes, girls of 14 can be very mature, but they may not be psychologically mature enough to be a mother, the real issue is whether they they are with a man or have a family who is supporting of her, surely? A child needs a stable family home.

Teenage pregnancies have increased for the first time in seven years, especially those under 16. Nearly three-quarters of the 8,196 girls under 16 getting pregnant were 15 year olds.

Mantel said that women should be able to choose whether to have children when they are teenagers or pursue a career and have children later in life.

So, what do we think? Should we have our children earlier rather than later?

Is Jon Venables a Monster?

Jon Venables was returned to prison last week after breaching the terms of his licence conditions.

Venables and Robert Thompson, both 10 at the time, abducted and murdered James, two, in February 1993.

James was taken from a shopping centre in Liverpool and found on a railway line having been beaten with bricks and an iron bar. Venables and Thompson, who were truanting from school, walked James around the streets of Liverpool for more than two miles, stopping occasionally to kick and punch him. They told adults who intervened that he was their brother.

Venables who was released under a new identity at the age of 18 and given a new identity when released after the sheer savagery of their crime that had the nation divided as to whether or not both Jon Venables and his co-defendant Robert Thompson should be tried as children or adults. The age of criminal responsibility in the UK is 10, the doli incapax rule conclusively presumes that a child less than ten years old cannot be held legally responsible for their actions, and so cannot be convicted for committing a criminal offence. They were tried in an adult court rather than a children’s court, was this right? Did they have the capability at 10 to realise what they were doing?

They were convicted following a trial at Preston crown court and ordered to be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure, the usual sentence for life imprisonment when the offender is a juvenile

Thompson and Venables grew up in circumstances which had both striking similarities and profound differences. Both boys had parents who had separated; each had difficulties with attendance, learning and behaviour at school. They bunked off, they shoplifted, they were violent; all these pieces in a pattern that made up a pair of empty, broken young lives.

A narrative emerged of two childhoods influenced not merely by the flaws of parents or the absence of a father, but by the environment in which these boys lived, a world of social and economic deprivation, of trashy television and cultural poverty, inadequate social services, failed schooling and general confusion. It was a place that left a moral vacuum for two children who would go on to kill and leave the unanswered question: why did they do it?

After the trial, Mr Justice Morland laid the moral responsibility squarely with the parents. He said a public debate about the parenting and family background of Thompson and Venables was required. “In my judgement,” he averred, “the home background, upbringing, family circumstances, parental behaviour and relationships were needed in the public domain so that informed and worthwhile debate can take place for the public good in the case of grave crimes by young children.”

Thompson was a member of what can only be described as a terribly dysfunctional family. The fifth of seven children, he proved as difficult to his mother as the rest of her progeny. Ann Thompson had been deserted by her husband five years before the killing of Jamie Bulger, and in the week after he left the family home burned down in an accidental fire. Left on her own, Thompson sought consolation in drink and was often to be found in the bar in Higson’s Top House rather than looking after the children in her chaotic home.

While it was their sons up there in the specially-raised dock, the parents of Thompson and Venables could have been left in no doubt that they too were on trial – that the blame for this terrible murder was placed at the door of their shambolic households.

But can such guilt be so neatly apportioned? There are many families where the parents are struggling to cope, where the children have behavioural problems. Parents are invariably ordinary people with problems of their own. They should instill values and principles in a child but they cannot be there all the time – as Denise Bulger (now Fergus) learned at a terrible cost.

The Venables and Thompson families were at very different places on the spectrum of “dysfunctional” families: if the chain of causality between parental failings and juvenile homicide were so straightforwardly simple how many families should be regarded as pathological – potential producers of more child childkillers?

The parents themselves are not murderers, but whatever blame attaches to them has been abundantly punished. Thompson and Venables moved away from Liverpool after their sons’ convictions eight years ago. They took on new identities, tried to create new lives. Yet these are haunted by the fear of being found and blamed all over again. For they themselves will always feel guilty.

Last night, James’s mother Denise Fergus, 42, said through a spokesman she believed the public should be told what Venables had done to trigger his recall to prison.

“Denise has always said she did not believe that it was safe to parole Venables and Thompson at 18, before they had ever spent a day in an adult prison,” the spokesman said.

“She believes this breach of parole shows that she was right … But she believes that she and the public have a right to know what Venables has done and what is to be done with him now he is an adult offender.”

The Ministry of Justice refused to say what Venables had done to breach his licence. It also refused to confirm or deny whether it involved an act of violence against a person or any other criminal act.

The conditions placed on the killers after their release included that they did not contact each other, and that they stayed away from the Liverpool area.

Michael Wolkind QC said he thought there was a “significant chance” the breach had been serious.

He said: “Licence is a means of controlling people once they are released. Now this has been publicised, I think there must be a possibility of his new identity being exposed in prison and the inference must be it was a serious breach.

“To go to all the trouble of building him a new identity and a new life, there must be a significant chance it was serious.”

So, was Denise Fergus right, were these two boys anable to be rehabilitated?

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