AS with many 50-plus workers, the same ones leaving the workforce in droves, I have become experienced and, not to blow my own trumpet, good at my job. I have spent my career getting paid (thank you, taxpayers) to do a job which can be summed up as trying to support vulnerable children by trying to understand and come up with solutions to help them cope.
The government inserted themselves into our homes in March 2020 to ‘protect’ us by curbing personal freedoms. Now they’ve taken hold of my working life and I can’t shake them off. Professional judgment has been replaced with directions from government. Here’s my day:
A school want to know how to support a pre-teen with transgender issues. The parents are wanting pronouns to change to ‘they/them’ to help their autistic child who is suddenly, without warning, changing gender. The school keep forgetting, but parents say it’s okay as long as it’s not intentional. In a long career I’ve known one boy who, since he could talk, said he was a girl. A rare transgender youngster. In the past year, I’ve had five girls, all autistic. Autistic girls value relationships but often don’t fit in and it’s hard. My advice is to tackle the sense of not belonging. What I wouldn’t recommend is giving a young person a new identity, without discussion or thought for the long-term impact, which is now the government’s policy. When I raised my concern with my team, all I achieved was an agreement that we needed to change our referral forms to include pronouns.
Next case is an early primary child on anti-depressants for an anxiety disorder. The school are annoyed that this ‘anxious’ child is physically hurting staff and the parent is furious because the child hasn’t yet been ‘fixed’. But the mother has a point. Government have re-defined parents as being little more than an agent of the state. So when the parent asks what is being done to ‘fix’ her child, she is beating them at their own game.
Now a meeting which overlaps with social workers. One of them explains gravely that a child with behavioural problems has attachment issues. You see, she explains with Freudian expertise, pre-birth trauma caused brain problems and, bingo, he can’t regulate (the new word for behave). Her message is backed by government initiatives on ‘attachment issues’ as code for ‘bad parenting’ which, in deprived areas, is applied liberally.
Next up, some trauma training. Schools need to be trauma-informed. Adverse Childhood Experience trauma scoring has winged its way across the Atlantic. Our government, unsurprisingly, prefer an introspective electorate mulling over past problems. This nicely shields us from real and present issues such as drug deaths, education targets, health matters and general unpleasantness.
The rest of my day is spent in fun multi-agency meetings. That’s where different agencies signpost services to each other. The meeting is the thing. Once it’s done, and a record is filed, the job has been done. Sometimes, the child is brought in and we praise them for taking part, do a bit more signposting then go home. The government want it done like that.
So do the government want me and my judgment? I’m not feeling it. They prefer to spoon-feed and tell me what to think and do. For those of us a little long in the tooth and still capable of critical thinking? That is what it means getting old.