When dearly missed Sandy Fawkes, then a young reporter on an 'Express' with a circulation in the millions, came across the story of a horrifically abused child her editor spiked the copy. "We don't publish that sort of stuff; people don't want to read about it" she recalled he told her. Sandy persisted (she could be very persistent) and in 1973 the story of Maria Colwell broke to a shocked nation. If sex began in 1963, child abuse followed a decade later.
Communal or shared responsibility for the welfare of our young is the keymark of a civilised community; in a Sicilian village, even in 2012, in the absence of the State, it is a duty happily assumed by all. You can let your eight year-old out alone at 9pm to find his friend on the other side of the village without worry. A score pair of watchful eyes along the way will guard his every step (and provide intelligence of the latest movements of the Inglese for the morning coffee). Try it in Bolton and the State will remove him to a child-pen and prosecute you for neglect.
The Mail reports this morning that the number of children taken into care is set to hit 10,000 this year. If the record number of kids imprisoned in the State child pens is anything to go by, we're a very loving and caring society indeed. That dog Rousseau, who would remove children at birth from their families into the care of the State, would be delighted. Now take a look at your local Council website and find the proportion of the budget going on 'Childrens' Services'; since all single-tier councils amalgamated schools and child social work (to disguise the costs of the latter) it's not unusual to find it taking half the budget. And it's growing.
The question in the title should perhaps rather read "do we care enough?". Councils, fearful of another Baby P, will throw resources at a zero-risk strategy that removes every child at the slightest hint of harm. No doubt many wrong decisions will be made, great pain and injustice caused, in securing councillors and fat-cat bosses from dismissal and media opprobrium. For that, after all, is what it's about.