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LETTERS: Cuts at councils are putting vulnerable children at risk

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Issue 2511
Protest against council cuts in Bradford
Protest against council cuts in Bradford (Pic: Neil Terry)

Bradford, West Yorkshire, is one of the most deprived areas in Britain. The link between poverty and vulnerability is well known.

I’m a teacher dealing with young children who are often very vulnerable.

There is a risk of these children suffering harm ranging from emotional abuse to physical or sexual abuse.

Guidelines and safeguarding practices agreed between the school and Bradford council’s children’s services department set out how to raise concerns.

However reporting concerns has recently been made a lot more difficult as a result of a baffling change in reporting.

We are now being instructed to get consent from parents before we can highlight concerns. This applies in all cases except where a child has an injury or in cases of sexual abuse.

In practice this means that, if a parent refuses to grant permission, we cannot refer concerns to a social worker.

Recently a child in my school made an allegation that his main parent’s new partner threatened to assault him. He said he was scared to go home.

But this was not referred to a social worker because the parent refused to give permission.

I spoke to an administrator about the change, who said it is the result of increased workloads and short staffing.

This makes vulnerable children more vulnerable.

It means that, at earlier stages of abuse when it can often be stopped, the abuse is being ignored.

While workers in children’s services say they are understaffed, management at the council clearly have money.

The council recently splashed out thousands of pounds on some lights at the top of a building, and £15,000 on a statue.

The health, safety and wellbeing of children should be paramount.

Teacher, Bradford

Corbyn at the crossroads

The key people on both sides of the European Union (EU) referendum debate were Tories. The referendum was all about the Tories.

But the media turned its vitriol on Corbyn to try and distract from the Tory civil war.

Corbyn won the biggest mandate from his party of any politician in living memory. All of us on the left need to defend him.

Neil Terry, Bradford

Jeremy Corbyn’s sacking of Hilary Benn was very welcome to anti-war activists in Leeds.

Benn was heckled by activists at a recent rally for “Another Europe” in Leeds after he mentioned the word “internationalism”.

They understood, like Corbyn, that real internationalism comes from below.

It does not come from capitalist institutions such as the EU or imperialist wars championed by “Labour lieutenants of capital” such as Benn.

Christian Hogsbjerg, Leeds

Socialist Worker is absolutely correct to call for the left to get behind Jeremy Corbyn.

It is also correct to say that Corbyn should wage an open fight against his critics in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

If Corbyn is to win this battle he must appeal not only to Momentum.

He must also appeal to the wider left with a programme of fighting austerity, racism and war.

John Curtis, Ipswich

We blocked Prevent, and you can do it too

Trade unionists at Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College have made a breakthrough in opposing the racist Prevent programme.

At the university activists from the UCU and EIS union in the School of Education unanimously passed a statement at a general school meeting.

It called on the university to refuse to implement Prevent and declared that training will not take place in the School of Education.

It also mandates the Head of School to campaign against Prevent within the university.

Activists intend to build on this by working with colleagues in other schools to take similar action.

In Edinburgh College mass meetings across all campuses have voted overwhelmingly against the introduction of Prevent training.

This had been scheduled for June and has now been dropped.

Penny Gower, Edinburgh

The state hasn’t stopped the struggle in France

The French government is in crisis. It was elected on a left wing basis four years ago.

Yet it has ridden roughshod over its supporters’ aspirations, most recently with its new Work Law.

Millions of workers have struck and marched over the past three months against the law.

Their resistance has met rising repression.

This culminated last month with an attempt to ban a union protest—something that hasn’t happened in the past 50 years. The government had to back down and allow the march.

But its vacillations showed how the political crisis in France has led to desperation within the government.

The ban on the London to Calais convoy showed the same mix of authoritarianism and desperation.

The government hopes to escape the wrath of people in France by scapegoating migrants and diverting attention towards sport.

But the ongoing mass movement demonstrates that this doesn’t work.

What is needed is more pushes until the bullies crumble. All the better if this can come from both sides of the Channel!

Sylvestre Jaffard, Paris

Support the school strike

The strike by the National Union of Teachers this week is very important.

Our schools are being underfunded. And forced academisation is still a real possibility.

The government is failing our youth and, as cliched as it is to say, the youth are the future.

We need to give them a future of opportunity, not one of insecurity.

Sam Kav, Croydon

Farage put off Leave voters

The Leave vote would have been even bigger if the Farage factor was not so prominent.

Nigel Farage constantly banged on about immigration.

Some voters were deterred from voting Leave mindful of being called racist.

Subhash Varambhia, by email

One of my main reasons for voting to Leave was knowing that Cameron would have no choice but to resign.

Paul Harris, on Facebook

EU is not for migrant rights

It is ridiculous to claim that the EU is a progressive force for migrants.

Relatively few, mostly white, Christian people can take advantage of the right of free movement. Many of the poorest workers simply can’t afford to.

Fortress Europe forces millions more migrants, who are not so white and maybe not Christian, to risk their lives at sea.

The promise of free movement does not apply to those who most need it.

Paul Salgado, Bogota, Colombia

Christians not all ‘neo-cons’

Are Christians like me welcome as supporters of yours? It is so sad that some think we are all establishment Trumpist neo-cons. Please be assured we are not.

The gospels have been misquoted to suit a racist, discriminatory and elitist agenda.

Nick Monaghan, West Yorkshire

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