Problem of female abuse

It is right that sexual abuse by women is a
bigger problem than most people realise (“Women abuse too”, 14

The Churches’ Child Protection Advisory
Service runs training courses and seminars in churches of all
denominations throughout the country. In dealing with a wide range
of issues we mention sexual abuse by women and after virtually
every session our trainers are approached by individuals who tell
us they were abused by women and had not realised others had
suffered in the same way. Almost without exception, the abuse had
not been reported to the authorities.

People have great difficulty in believing that
there are female paedophiles too.

David Pearson
Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service

Cutting costs and quality

When foster carers first heard the new buzz
words Quality Protects and Best Value (“Ahead of the game” and
“Benefits of bean counting”, 14 March), they meant something
completely different to us.

At a meeting called by our local authority, we
were told we were being paid too much to meet the Quality Protects
target. This was in spite of the local authority increasing the pay
to foster carers recently to stop the flow of carers to fostering
agencies where better pay and conditions were promised.

My wife and I have fostered difficult-to-place
teenagers for 23 years. Over that time we have had nothing but
excellent support and training from our authority. We now see the
same people from the authority falling over themselves to implement
the government’s new policies. To protect a youngster we have
looked after for eight years, who is now 18 and attending college,
we had to threaten a judicial review to keep his payments until he
finishes his course.

The government is protecting itself, hiding
behind the people at the coal face. I believe the Best Value target
for the number of foster carers required will never be met, nor
does it deserve to be. I believe we will see a further decline in
numbers and in achievements in further education for young people
in the system. We will see an increase in breakdowns in

We will leave foster caring when our last
young person moves on in the world.

Roger Sharp
High Peak

Message from Romania

In the past 10 years, Romania has endured
catastrophic trauma and the negative impact of capitalism and
virtually no help has been given from the government or
professional bodies of the UK. Instead, evangelists have flooded in
to claim converts. Meanwhile, local authorities who cannot attract
social workers in the UK are coming here to cream off professionals
from a country which has a superior free education system to that
of Britain.

I have been developing and training in the
social services here for much of the past eight years. I do not
blame people who earn about £100 a month for seeking a better
standard of living. I and many of my compatriots migrated to New
World countries in the past. I do suggest, however, that councils
and the UKgovernment should pay appropriate football-style
“transfer fees”. My experience is that before 1990, despite the
negative publicity in the Western media, Romania had higher quality
education, health and recreational facilities, with huge subsidies
from the taxpayer.

The only buildings being erected now are
churches, McDonald’s outlets and other facilities for the minority
who are well off. The only growth areas are prostitution, crime,
addiction and poor health. Although it has increased, child abuse
is below the incidence in Britain. Other countries should be
learning from East European nationals rather than sending in
advisers whose salaries are 70 or 80 times higher than those of
highly qualified professionals here.

The lesson of the “free market” appears to be
that you take from the poor to make the rich richer – of course
preaching to and punishing the poor at the same time.

Alan Gorst
Cluj Napoca

Let the young speak

Yet again Peter Beresford has put it simply
and succinctly for all to understand; young people in the care of
local authorities should be given equal status especially when
attending meetings regarding their future (Opinion, page 23, 7

For too long, many local authorities have paid
lip service to the ideals of Quality Protects and have taken a
paternalistic attitude that the professional knows best. It is high
time that young people were encouraged to express their own views,
either with their own voice or through an independent advocate.

Inviting a young person to participate in
decision-making for their future offers them power and control and
they are more likely to adhere to plans.

Hazel Middleton

Is there an age limit?

You report that social workers will be able to
practise before the age of 22 (News, page 12, 7 March). And you
quote the GSCC’s registrar, Andrew Skidmore, as saying that
selection criteria should secure the appropriate standards of
professional practice, “irrespective of arbitrary age

Is this also true of those of us at the older
end of the age-range? In other words, will it be deemed
discriminatory to refuse an older person a place on a social work
course on the basis of age?

I am a social worker who gained a Diploma in
Social Work at the age of 58. Whether I want to or not I will have
to retire in two and a half years’ time, at the state retirement

Recent information about pensions suggest that
those soon to qualify and practise as social workers while under
the age of 22 will have to work well into their 70s. So why can’t I
do the same, as long as I remain competent to do so?

Peter Clements
Saltash, Cornwall

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