A major new report has been just been published in Britain called ‘The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report’. It has been released in the wake of the Baby P case and the earlier Victoria Climbie case.
Baby P and Victoria Climbie were seen regularly by social services but both died as a result of gross physical abuse despite this. The cases caused a national outcry.
In Ireland, when cases of family-based child abuse become known, the Constitutional definition of the family, and the special status we give to marriage, gets much of the blame.
This new report in England contains not a word about marriage, much less about how its special status impedes child protection services there. Marriage has no special status in England. Instead the focus is on the need for better training of social workers, for more resources, and for better coordination between the various arms of the State.
If we change our Constitution it is very doubtful whether it will improve the lot of children in Ireland by a jot. However, if we redefine the family and lessen the special status of marriage, we will almost certainly do children an injustice because proportionately speaking the family based on marriage is the safest place for children. It needs and deserves special support.
On a separate but related matter, today’s report stresses the responsibilities parents have towards their children and it singles out the responsibilities of fathers.
It says: “However, parenthood incorporates not only rights but also responsibilities: it is a lifetime commitment. Particular mention should be made of the part to be played by fathers, not least as good role models.”
This comes as family diversity relativists in both the UK and Ireland try to downgrade and downplay the role of fathers, and indeed mothers, in the lives of their children. They tell us that the sex of a child’s parents doesn’t matter and that the only thing that really matters is the quality of parenting.
We need to make up our minds about this. Today’s report was commissioned by the British Government. It says that fathers matter. On the other hand the British Government has just passed a law, intended to satisfy the gay lobby, which ends the requirement that fertility clinics consider a child’s need for a father. Which is it, do they matter or not?