A number of related stories at the end of last week caught my eye. First, Haringey dismissed four staff over the Baby Peter case. The following day, the Baby Peter’s mother and boyfriend are convicted of further offences relating to the rape of a 2 year old. The outcry was predictable – Haringey have failed again.
But the third story was much more interesting because of the reaction of those interviewed. A man was convicted of killing an elederly woman in a care home. He had set fire to some curtains. It wasn’t the first time he had committed an act of arson but he had been undergoing counselling and so there was no reason to place any restrictions on him working with vulnerable adults. Nobody suggested there was some terrible failing of social workers. On the contrary, an Age Concern spokesperson said this was a one-off and that we should all just pay more attention to the people around us and listen to those in care. They are our best source of information about the quality of carers.
That was it. No moral outrage. No accusations of incompetence. Do we care less about the elderly? Or is it that the death or abuse of a child is so awful a crime that we respond differently to it? It must be the fault of someone?