Who is to blame for family breakdown?


by Sunny
30th May, 2008 at 5:01 am    

A young 7 year old girl in Birmingham dies of neglect and starvation. The MP blames the social services, and so does the father. But of course the real problem here is the bloody parents who neglected their daughter isn’t it?
I quote Steve:

No, Mr Zaire, you never lifted a finger. It was you who did nothing. You chose to be somewhere else.

I’m not saying Birmingham’s social workers are blame free. They should have asked questions when the child had been away from school for so long. If they were unaware of this, then that is a system failure too. But Mr Zaire has some cheek to blame just about everyone else when, it appears, he had very little involvement with his children.

Family breakdown has become one of the biggest issues of our generation. Conservatives cannot stop harping on about it because it captures the sense of moral panic some people feel over issues (crime, unemployment, teenage pregnancies, abortion) and allows them to blame that on liberals and Labour governments.

The problem, you see, is apparently that liberals have created such a permissive society that people can do what they want and hence we have family breakdown! More recently, when the government voted to allow lesbian couples to have children through IVF, some said it meant father were deemed as irrelevant and that family breakdown was imminent.

There are a few problems with all this hypothesis: its a pile of crap.

The first problem is of course that the government is blamed for everything when actually it’s the parents fault. Why is Khalid Mahmood blaming social services instead of the parents? Not to say social workers are blame free but with so many cases there are bound to be slip-ups. The state cannot do everything and should certainly not be primarily responsible for the mistakes that people make.

In this article on Liberal Conspiracy, Unity shows how government legislation (other than allowing abortions) has had little impact on family breakdown because social values were moving in a more liberal direction anyway.
The changing nature of our economy that has had more impact:

What the data shows is the creation of the today’s social underclass and the frightening speed with which it came into being. It took only a decade of high unemployment and the near systematic dismantling of the UK’s manufacturing base and the working class communities that depended on those industries for their economic well-being to wreck a generation and create an underclass in which a stable and secure family life is too often the exception rather than the norm.

Similarly, Chris Dillow points out that, kids need money not dads, and the evidence supports it. In other words, if you want someone to blame for ‘family breakdown’ and the growth of an underclass (thanks to growing income inequality) then you should look no further than Margaret Thatcher and the stripping out of Britain’s industrial base.

No doubt, Labour has done nothing to reverse that economic trend but the point is that the rot started ages ago.

Let me repeat: the problem is not a more permissive society. Abortion, IVF treatment, divorce etc have given people the opportunity to lead lives how they want to without being pressured into unhappy marriages or unwanted kids. That is a good thing.

If there kids being abandoned by their parents and dying of starvation, that is the fault of those who gave them life and then abandoned their reponsibility, not that of the government.


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  1. unitalian — on 30th May, 2008 at 8:06 am  

    “The problem, you see, is apparently that liberals have created such a permissive society that people can do what they want and hence we have family breakdown!”

    That may be one conservative argument, but I think it misrepresents an important insight: it is not so much the promotion of permissivness that has helped this situation to develop, it is more about moving the burden of responsibility from the individual to the state, which is certainly something the liberal-led distortion of the social safety net has resulted in.

    The biological father of this child is on record blaming social services, when he admitted he had not seen his daughter for the past year.

    The safety net was designed by socialists in the 1940s to protect families against a backdrop of war and starvation – my grandmother had an auntie who died of hunger in the 1930s. It was meant to be a last recourse in a society in which people experienced shame for drawing on “the social”. I’m sure the architects never envisaged a world in which it would become viewed as an “entitlement”. I think they would be horrified.

    Over the years a certain class of the middle class has been attracted to this area – their politics based largely on oppositionism from the late 60s to the late 80s – and the result has been, undoubtedly along with other trends, to promote a culture of dependency among the white, and to a lesser extent black, working classes.

    One could almost be forgiven for thinking that this was their intention all along – the elite subconsciously conspiring to transform a class that once presented a real threat to their class interests to a docile, almost vegetative state.

    But for whatever reason the clear left-wing (socialist as opposed to left-elitist) solution should be to return responsibility to the individual, not least by weaning them off benefits – even if their suffering makes them angry, better that they rediscover their class consciousness and fight for a fairer future than continue to languish like Epsilons on their sink estates while the Alphas in Farringdon Road pontificate about “what is best for them”.

  2. Roger — on 30th May, 2008 at 8:18 am  

    There is a difference between family breakdown and starving a child to death.

  3. MaidMarian — on 30th May, 2008 at 8:25 am  

    Actually, the most interesting part of this is the MP.

    It may well be that there are elements to this story that are, for whatever reason, not in the public domain but on the face of it the bloke is thrashing around for anyone to blame and the MP has encouraged him.

  4. Ravi Naik — on 30th May, 2008 at 3:47 pm  

    “A young 7 year old girl in Birmingham dies of neglect and starvation. The MP blames the social services, and so does the father. But of course the real problem here is the bloody parents who neglected their daughter isn’t it?”

    Absolutely.

    “Similarly, Chris Dillow points out that, kids need money not dads, and the evidence supports it.”

    I would only agree with this statement if the Dad or Mom are negative influences – but I contend that this is the exception rather than the rule. A lot of parents are absent in their child’s lives, perhaps egotistically to earn more money, and then they shower them with gifts out of guilt.

    I do believe that Dads play a very important role in the child’s development, much more than money in this western world. If you stick to the basics, it doesn’t cost much to raise a child, and if you give them a lot of love, affection and confidence, they will grow just fine.

    The real cause of this tragedy is that her Dad was just not there.

  5. Ashik — on 30th May, 2008 at 5:35 pm  

    The family started to disintegrate around about the time women started gaining rights in the house and the workplace and the situation is further deteriorating to date. Love it or loath it women are the primary caregivers for the feral youth who grow up to wield knives or become druggies. No doubt the children are negatively influenced by their working mothers absence from their lives, especially in the formative years. They see their mothers take up with a new man every few months or years and the constant disruption in family life leaves the emotional scars tender. This is the price of our permissive society that needs to be balanced against the personal freedoms and rights women enjoy today.

    Gender equality is a great idea but does not and should not equate to people forgetting that men and women are different with different needs. Womens contributions in the home should be given equal kudos to that of their sisters in the workplace.

  6. unitalian — on 31st May, 2008 at 7:43 am  

    Ashik – How do we know whether the mother worked? Do you?

    I can see where you are coming from though – those countries that do retain a form of gender-slavery don’t tend to experience the kind of social fragmentation that is current in the UK.

    However there is an argument that a key reason Islamic cultures have not been as economically successful as Western ones is that they have kept half their population in a state of servility.

    Therefore one has to weigh up the comparitive benefits of living in a society like the UK and one like Pakistan or Egypt etc. On balance I think the UK, for all its faults, is preferable.

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