17 September 2011

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

This has been a difficult blog to write for a myriad of reasons but mostly because it’s an emotive subject and as regular readers know I get emotional over very simple matters!

A few years ago Father Christmas asked me if my daughter had been a good girl that year. When I replied that she was always good he gave me an incredulous look but it’s true, she is. She’s always been well behaved, polite, trustworthy and I've never had a problem with her going places with other people because I know instinctively that she will behave.

Back in May during a PE lesson at her Primary school, Whetstone Field in Aldridge, an incident occurred where the teacher in charge that day, grabbed my daughter with rather too much force resulting in substantial bruising on her arm. Every finger and the thumb prints could be seen. My argument has always been that it was unnecessary to grab my daughter in such a way and to drag her across the playground. She wasn't misbehaving and even if she had been to use force that left clear and unambiguous bruising was unacceptable and unprofessional. There was never a question in my mind that my daughter’s report of the incident was nothing but truthful, she doesn't lie plus why on earth would she lie about such a thing? The teacher concerned had no recollection of the incident. Take from that what you will.

This is where events took on a life of their own and where I as a reasonably intelligent person got caught up in procedures and meetings that I knew nothing about. I've never had to deal with Children’s Services and Initial Response Teams and Multi-agency Strategy meetings before and I'm none the wiser now because not one person involved in all of these agencies told me what was happening, what should happen and what my daughter’s rights and expectations should be.

I had a meeting with the Head Teacher where she was shown the bruising and given full details. Her reaction was insipid to say the least and when I asked her what would happen next she advised me that she would probably let the Chair of the Governors know by the end of the day. I walked home and decided that I didn't like the reaction I had just received and contacted the Police.

Without going into detail all I can say is that the agencies involved let my daughter down badly. The Police didn't listen to my initial call and sent a local bobby to interview my daughter about the alleged assault, rather than a specialist officer. The school didn't swing into action as they should have done and there was delay in contacting Children’s Services. The initial response team at Children’s Services were slow on the uptake too. The result of all this was that it was 8 days after the incident before my daughter was examined by a paediatrician who was unable to neither confirm nor deny that daughter’s account of how the bruising happened was true because by then the bruising had faded to a yellow mess.

Unbeknown to me a Strategy Meeting involving the Police, the School, Children’s Services and Serco took place and the decision of the meeting was that no further action would be taken. At the time I was informed of this I didn't realise the importance and finality of this decision. I do now. I was never informed that the meeting would be take place and who would be there. At no stage was I ever informed of any procedures and what would happen. I have learned that when you find yourself dealing with an incident where advice as to what is happening should be given, agencies/authority close ranks and leave you stumbling around in the dark.

The result is that due to ‘the lack of evidence’ due to the tardiness of all those involved including the school who interviewed just one child from a class of 30 who had witnessed the incident and that child on being confronted with his Head Teacher and Class Teacher in a room on his own with nobody to hold his hand, understandably got muddled and confused, the word of the teacher, who had everything to lose, was believed over the word of my daughter who had nothing to lose and no reason to lie.

I have learned a lot from this incident. In future if I find myself in a situation where I do not know the ropes I will obtain specialist advice immediately and I advise others to do the same. If you don’t then there is no justice for a child. Those who preach the mantra of children having all the rights these days and no responsibilities should take heed of this account. My child had no rights in all of this, took all the responsibility and achieved no justice despite having done nothing wrong.

Fortunately my daughter has now moved onto to Secondary school and is happy there. Unfortunately there is still a teacher at Whetstone Field who needs some retraining at the very least but is not getting it and who should if she had any conscience and morality have accepted responsibility for hurting my daughter. I feel for you if you have a child there because in my experience it is not the school it once was nor the school it likes to project itself as.

This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth as I see it and in my opinion.

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