Monday, 31 August 2009

The average citizen as a criminal

From 'Just Law' we have Baroness Helena Kennedy telling us that: 'But unless a discussion of crime sensitively addresses the questions about the causes, about whether prison does reduce criminal behaviour and what the alternatives might be, about what might happen to your child or your teenager if arrested, and unless it considers issues concerning potential victimisation of minorities, loss of social cohesion and risks of wrongful conviction, the general public can lose sight of what the removal of safeguards can mean.'

What does this mean for home educators?

In the first instance, we are often caught up in truancy sweeps. After being told that the new laws against truancy wouldn't affect home educators, many families have reported difficulties with police (and the accompanying education social workers). Police have told H.E. children that they should be at home - at the 'place of education' and studying the National Curriculum. Police have also removed home educating children from where they are to the perceived institution of learning aka the home.

Everyone is confused. Everyone is muddled by the endless stream of new laws and rights from the EU. The public do not know when or where they may cross paths with the police who are increasingly seen as biased and unreliable. I think back to when I was very small and the sight of a copper directing traffic or strolling down the high street was a great comfort to me. Once I was separated from my father, and did need a policeman (unfortunately, none was to be found) but I definitely knew who to turn to, who I could trust. These days, reacting to the option of soft targets to fill their boxes with ticks, the police can be anything but sympathetic to the ordinary person.

In the past, most people knew what was what and where they stood. Now they are as likely to be arrested as to be helped, and the fabric of social unity is stretching thin.

We need to know that our institutions are there for us. We need to know that we can have a say in those matters which affect us. We need to know that we will face not just a cold, confusing set of questions on the internet. We need real debate. We need to trust our officials to do their best for us, to understand our point of view and, at the very least, consider it carefully. We need to know that they do not have agendas which, although they appear mild and benign, are harsh and totalitarian.

For home educators, given a shock announcement in the press by Delyth Morgan (who exactly is she?) and the NSPCC (scenting more hapless children to 'help') tried to regroup and approach a man who was to review home education. A thankless task, perhaps, as many brave people struggled to explain home education to this man who knew only the classroom and his accomplices who were also deeply immersed in schooling.

If the government wished to retain the good will of some people, they could start with announcing that the review was to be abandoned, that it was a mistake, that no one wanted to suggest that loving, caring parents should be penalised for the few, the very few parents who neglect or abuse their offspring.

The very fact that the Badman review is flawed in so very many ways should be enough to ensure that it is tossed forthwith into the recycling bin. The government would regain ground it seems to be determined to lose with every passing month. Bent on destruction, politicians spin like demented whirligig spiders attempting to catch us all in their webs of deceit, but fooling only themselves.

This is not what made Britain great. It is not what created diversity and spurred imaginative minds to create and invent.

Britain can be great again. We have to be brave enough to stop. Stop now and go into reverse. We have to acknowledge that people are people, not subjects in a giant, messy and senseless experiment. We have to nourish the plant of liberty and freedom. We have to treat people with respect. We have to presume that they are moral before we have evidence that they are not.

For the good of our futures, for our children and for our country.

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