Karen Woodall is a highly-respected British family counsellor who has worked with vulnerable children and their families since 1991. Her personal profile:
Our thanks to commenter “T” for pointing us to a piece published by Karen a couple of months ago.
The piece relates primarily to the killing of children by their (biological) mothers, which happens in the UK on the same scale as the killing of children by their (biological) fathers. The difference is that when women kill their own children, it’s assumed (by social workers, the media, and others) that there must be external explanations – abuse by a male partner, severe mental health issues.. – so these women are untypical of women in general. In stark contrast, when men kill their own children, no external explanations are necessary – they’re typical of men in general.
Some extracts from Karen’s piece, which take up the remainder of this blog piece:
The reports of Filicide, the murder by a mother of her child, are all over the news this week.
Baby P, Daniel Pelka, Hamzah Khan, Keanu Williams being just four names that are engraved upon our consciousness, not just because of their untimely deaths, but because of the nature of the suffering inflicted upon them before they died.
Collective handwringing is in evidence up and down the land and who is to blame is being widely discussed. The sight of the Head of Birmingham Children’s Safeguarding Board attempting to squirm out of the reality of her responsibility for allowing yet another death of a child to happen on her watch, was excruciating on the BBC news last night. Her words, in a statement released this week scream out the reality of why children are dying.
‘I wish, on behalf of all the statutory agencies who sit on the Board to express very deep regret and distress about Keanu’s death. We apologise unequivocally for what were totally unacceptable and unnecessary failures both collectively and individually in every organisation which had contact with Keanu. We fully accept all the findings of the Serious Case Review and the recommendations made.
Keanu died because there was failure across every agency to see, hear and respond to him in the context of what he was experiencing at any one point in time. Staff were distracted by his mother’s needs and by taking what she was telling them at face value.’
“Staff were distracted by (this baby’s) mother’s needs and by taking what she was telling them at face value.” In other words, a systemic use of gender-biased practise which focuses practitioners not on the needs of children, but on the needs and rights of women. If ever there was proof needed that social work and our children and family services are, as a very senior social worker said recently, a “feminist industry,” this is it. Gender-biased family services, upholding the rights and needs of women above those of children, are killing those children in a neighbourhood near you and until we name it, we are never going to stop it.
Gender-biased family services kill kids by working from the feminist perspective of seeing a woman who is vulnerable instead of a woman who is dangerous to her children. Gender-biased family services kill kids by refusing to look the reality in the face: that mothers can and do kill their children–and intervention to prevent it starts with believing it. Gender-biased services kill kids because they spend too much time looking for a man to blame and seeing domestic violence (by men) as the root cause of all dangers to children.
The children who die at the hands of their mothers are the vulnerable ones, not the other way around, and we should be acting to support those children first before we analyse and excuse maternal responsibility. I have no doubt whatsoever that women, like men who kill their children, need an awful lot of work to reverse the impact of being so divorced from their own humanity, that they can act without thinking and often without remorse.