Several years ago, a teenage boy I used to teach had an unfortunate accident. One weekend evening, along with some other lads, he had climbed up on the roof of a local sports centre. I guess they were "having fun" as mischievous teenage boys are wont to do. But this time he didn't get away with it because when trying to get back down to earth, he slipped and broke an arm as well as injuring his back. Oh dear!
But who was to blame? Incredibly, appallingly and ultimately successfully his family sued the local council - arguing that the security of the sports centre was lax and their darling son shouldn't have been able to get up on that roof.. A significant financial settlement was agreed out of court.
Recently, three stupid Muslim schoolgirls from Bethnal Green in London travelled surreptitiously to Syria to link up with the Islamic State circus. Almost immediately, blame filled the airwaves. The families blamed the police while the government blamed the Turkish authorities who had allowed these three naive girls to pass through their country unchallenged. In my view, it was the girls themselves who were to blame and the families are almost as bad - trying to pass the buck to the police about their own teenagers - girls who slept under their own roofs.
A couple of weeks ago as the evil "Jihadi John" was revealed to be the son of an immigrant family from Kuwait, you had a representative of an organisation called "Cage" appearing on British television blaming the security services for radicalising the monster. How dare they question him? I was appalled that "Cage" got so much airtime to spout this nonsense. According to their slick website, "CAGE is an independent advocacy organisation working to empower communities impacted by the War on Terror. The organisation highlights and campaigns against state policies, striving for a world free from oppression and injustice." Yeah, right!
Through a lifetime of teaching, I noticed that many teenage children seemed incapable of accepting blame for things they had done. When caught or questioned their habitual reaction was to point fingers elsewhere or simply to deny. Many times I found myself responding with "But I saw you" or "I heard you". It was always heartening when a child accepted responsibility and said "I'm sorry" or "Yes it was me". That always had the effect of deflating my annoyance. They were taking personal responsibility for their actions.
I don't know if it is the same in other countries but I think that social workers in Britain often have a raw deal. They are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Their workloads are invariably far too big as they operate in a "Catch 22" world. If a baby is harmed or there's some of this awful child sex abuse in the home or out on the streets, social workers will often find themselves in the spotlight - pilloried like medieval thieves in the village stocks.
Proverbially, t's not right to always go beating up external scapegoats. People who were on the sidelines. We should be looking more closely at perpetrators, for by rights that is where the lion's share of the blame deserves to lie.