There are times when it’s best not to say anything. We all take a long time to learn this, especially people like myself, who favour being honest and open at all times. An example where some things were better left unsaid was when I was called upon to move one of my clients from a children’s home to a secure unit.
The child, a thirteen year-old girl, was being groomed by a group of Eastern European men for sexual purposes. The police were sure of this, but unable to prove anything. The situation was made worse by the fact that the girl and several of her friends, would leave the home each evening and not return until sometimes after the curfew, which was ten pm. In those days you couldn’t keep a child in when they wanted to go out. All you could do was warn them of the dangers, which usually went in one of their ears and straight out of the other. It’s probably best to mention here that these girls had all been rejected in one way or another by their parents. This left them with little self-esteem and made them ripe pickings for predatory men, with no work, who could pimp them out and make money.
In addition to getting up to, who knows what, each evening my client also displayed disruptive behaviour within the children’s home. The staff were at their wit’s end with her and were also uncomfortable that she wielded a lot of influence with the other children. It was decided that her disruptive behaviour was due to her unsavoury lifestyle and that she should be moved to a secure unit. This would keep her in each evening and, hopefully, would calm her down enough to give her some therapy.
Two policemen accompanied me the day I arrived to take the girl away. We expected a scene, because even after the adults always said otherwise, most children’s home kids regarded a secure unit as prison.
We waited in the lounge and the keyworker (a member of the home’s staff) brought the child to us. The girl was calm, and chatted quite well to the two policemen, who clearly wanted to get her out of the door without any problems. Then, the keyworker ruined everything by deciding to give the girl one last dressing-down about her behaviour. I couldn’t believe my ears when the following spilled out of the silly woman’s mouth, “You know you are only being moved because of the way you behaved. If you had come in earlier and not been so bad to the staff, this wouldn’t be happening.” The girl tried to argue her case, but the keyworker continued with “You are always disrupting mealtimes and you always left your room in a horrible mess. Worst of all, you started going with men older than yourself. You got the other children to run around for you…you did this…you did that…
The two policemen stared at the floor in their discomfort. I knew that intervening risked undermining the keyworker, but I had to do it. “I’m sure so and so is aware of what you think about her,” I blurted out. “And I don’t think she needs to hear anymore. She has some very good points and a spell at her new home will help to bring these out of her. The keyworker asked to see me outside and let rip about how I’d undermined her and that she would be making a formal complaint against me.
We managed to transport the girl without any unpleasantness. On the way home, the two policemen voiced how relieved they were when I interrupted the keyworker’s tirade. “It was inappropriate for a telling-off like that,” they said, “to be directed at a vulnerable young adult.” Although they didn’t know much about my client, they knew she came from a chaotic home with little or no parental input. In view of that, it was no wonder they said, that she behaved the way she did. They finished with, “If she (the keyworker) makes a complaint against you, contact us, and we’ll put in a good word for you.”
In the event, the keyworker didn’t file a complaint. Many times after that incident, I wished that some of the staff in children’s homes had received better training. Before getting my social worker qualification, I worked in several of these homes myself. I knew that for the most part, the staff were totally dedicated to their clients. There was always one or two, however, who just didn’t get it. They blamed the child for the circumstances they were in, and were too blinkered to see that actually, the child was very much the victim of these circumstances.
‘He was like a breath of spring’ the woman said. ‘He came into my life and changed everything.’ Yeah right, well he would wouldn’t he? I thought. He’s got his modus operandi down to a fine art, like all of them, and you are too needy to be able to see through the charade.
The woman I’m writing about was the mother of one of my clients, a seven year-old girl. Her real father had fled the home a couple of years before, leaving the mother lonely and struggling to pay the rent on her council home. She wasn’t a bad person, but like many other women her age, (under thirty), she was a victim, with her man vulnerability being unable to afford a decent lifestyle.
Then John (not his real name) came into her life. Unlike many other men in her social circle, John had a job and a car. He could afford to take her and her daughter on day-trips, he bought both of them presents and he paid compliments to the mother about her appearance and how pleasing she was to be around.
He moved into the family home, and the couple were soon talking about marriage. Then the bombshell came. The Child Protection social services, where I worked, got a call from the police to say that John had been in prison for a sex offence against a young female child. When I approached the mother with this, she said it wasn’t true, because he was such a good person and she had never seen him behave any other way but appropriately towards her daughter. Still under the spell of his courtship, she clearly found it painful to see that his attention towards her was not to enjoy her company but to gain access to the biggest prize of all – her daughter.
The child had to be placed on the Child Protection Register. At the first case conference, the mother reluctantly agreed to ask John to leave her home. This might have been the end of it, but for the fact that we had evidence to prove that she hadn’t given him up and that he was still making visits to the home. When confronted with this, she said that we were persecuting John. By then, she had come to accept that he had sexually abused a child in the past, but she maintained that he had served a prison sentence for this, which meant he would never do it again.
Many times, I and the police told the mother that sexual offenders almost always re-offend. They might do a sexual offenders course and learn how to control their behaviour, but even that couldn’t be banked upon to stop the urge to re-offend. In other words, John wasn’t like a burglar or somebody who had committed physical assault, done a stretch and decided never to break the law again. His behaviour was addictive. It was connected to a sexuality shaped in adolescence, rendering it fixed and impossible to change. A piece of rock can’t be turned into gold, if you paint it yellow. It is what it is and that’s it.
We were almost at the point of taking the case to court but events intervened. John let slip to a man in a pub that he had been convicted of sexually abusing a little girl. Like most offenders, he denied it, and like most offenders, said he was fitted up with the crime. Two days later, half of the neighbourhood laid siege to the home. They smashed the windows and daubed ‘pervert’ on the walls. The upshot of that was, John lit out and was never seen again.
It ended well for the child, in that she could remain with her mother. The mother’s demeanour in the aftermath, however, told us that she would take a long time to get over knowing her shining knight was, in fact, a highly damaged predator.
Following on from my earlier post about some women being insecure about their looks, I was amused this morning to read that Madonna has had plumping injections in her buttocks. Now, I get that she’s in the public eye and that she has an image to play up to but…sheesh, what on earth was she thinking? Doubtless, she thought she would have a nice, perky little bum, like somebody half her age. Instead, she looks now like she’s fixed two saddle-bags full of boulders to her rear-end.
For the life of me I can’t imagine how somebody who spends most of her life in the gym, and therefore, would be toned in that region, believes that such a procedure would somehow enhance her body. Not many pop stars in their fifties can command the type of following that she has enjoyed for so many years. So why then did she ruin herself in this way? Didn’t she stop and think that the regard many of her fans had for her might well now vanish and replaced by derision at best and cringing embarrassment at worst?
Madonna and many of her younger counterparts espouse feminine power and pour scorn on some men’s propensity to objectify women. Yet, they gyrate about on stage wearing very little and move about as adept as any seasoned pole dancer in a sleazy nightclub. I and many other people, including some men I might add, find this paradoxical behaviour bewildering.
Madonna was one of the first to shuck down most of her clothes and push her stuff at the audience. When challenged, she used to say that the way she performed was empowering to women. It didn’t empower women – it demeaned us, in my opinion. And, every time she performed in this way it sent the message that women are sexual objects, put on this Earth solely to entice men.
Ironically, one of Madonna’s role models was Marilyn Monroe. But, it didn’t seem to occur to her that Marilyn had men falling at her feet because the sex appeal she exuded was natural. Very little of effort went into it. So, for an intelligent women, (which Madonna is purported to be), it’s a sad day for her when she can’t see that you either have sexual power or you don’t, and that you can’t get it from a syringe.
Of course, she may be injecting her body because she’s getting old. But the same applies. You can’t inject youth into your body and you can’t inject dignity into it either. Once the first has gone, the second must take over. But in Madonna’s case, both seem to have flown out of the window.