Britain’s class war on children


Poverty is still a major issue in Britain, perpetuated by the elitist attitudes of the Johnson Government, writes John Pilger.

WHEN I FIRST reported on child poverty in Britain, I was struck by the faces of children I spoke to, especially the eyes. They were different — watchful, fearful.

In Hackney in 1975, I filmed Irene Brunsden’s family. Irene told me she gave her two-year-old a plate of Corn Flakes. “She doesn’t tell me she’s hungry, she just moans. When she moans, I know something is wrong.”

“How much money do you have in the house?” I asked.

“Five pence,” she replied.

Irene said she might have to take up prostitution, “for the baby’s sake”. Her husband Jim, a truck driver who was unable to work because of illness, was next to her. It was as if they shared a private grief.

This is what poverty does. In my experience, its damage is like the damage of war; it can last a lifetime, spread to loved ones and contaminate the next generation. It stunts children, brings on a host of diseases and, as unemployed Harry Hopwood in Liverpool told me, “it’s like being in prison”.

This prison has invisible walls. When I asked Harry’s young daughter if she ever thought that one day she would live a life like better-off children, she said unhesitatingly: “No.”

What has changed 45 years later? At least one member of an impoverished family is likely to have a job — a job that denies them a living wage. Incredibly, although poverty is more disguised, countless British children still go to bed hungry and are ruthlessly denied opportunities.

What has not changed is that poverty is the result of a disease that is still virulent yet rarely spoken about — class.

Study after study shows that the people who suffer and die early from the diseases of poverty brought on by a poor diet, sub-standard housing and the priorities of the political elite and its hostile “welfare” officials are working people. In 2020, one in three preschool British children suffers like this.

In making my recent film, The Dirty War on the NHS, it was clear to me that the savage cutbacks to the NHS and its privatisation by the Blair, Cameron, May and Johnson governments had devastated the vulnerable, including many NHS workers and their families. I interviewed one low-paid NHS worker who could not afford her rent and was forced to sleep in churches or on the streets.

A British family from the film Smashing Kids, 1975. (Photograph: John Garrett )

At a food bank in central London, I watched young mothers looking nervously around as they hurried away with old Tesco bags of food and washing powder and tampons they could no longer afford, their young children holding on to them. It is no exaggeration that at times I felt I was walking in the footprints of Dickens. 

Boris Johnson has claimed that 400,000 fewer children are living in poverty since 2010 when the Conservatives came to power. This is a lie, as the Children’s Commissioner has confirmed. In fact, more than 600,000 children have fallen into poverty since 2012; the total is expected to exceed 5 million. This, few dare say, is a class war on children.

Old Etonian Johnson is maybe a caricature of the born-to-rule class, but his “elite” is not the only one. All the parties in Parliament, notably if not especially Labour – like much of the bureaucracy and most of the media – have scant if any connection to the “streets”, to the world of the poor, of the “gig economy”, of battling a system of Universal Credit that can leave you without a penny and in despair.

Last week, the Prime Minister and his “elite” showed where their priorities lay. In the face of the greatest health crisis in living memory when Britain has the highest COVID-19 death toll in Europe and poverty is accelerating as the result of a punitive “austerity” policy, he announced £16.5 billion (AU$29.8 billion) for “defence”. This makes Britain, whose military bases cover the world, the highest military spender in Europe.

And the enemy? The real one is poverty and those who impose it and perpetuate it.  

John Pilger’s 1975 film, Smashing Kids, can be viewed at Smashing Kids.

John Pilger is a regular contributor to Independent Australia and a distinguished journalist and filmmaker. You can follow John on Twitter @JohnPilger.

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Local’s children book may help families of kids who doesn’t want to go to school | Goulburn Post


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When Goulburn local Ing Ledlie decided to write a book for children, she wanted to create awareness and help other families whose children don’t want to go to school. She has written two books so far – ‘I Don’t Want To Go To The Big School On The Hill’ and ‘My Great Day Going To The Big School On The Hill’ while the third one is in the pipeline and will be published soon. The books are written for children aged between 3-5 years. “I wrote my first book after my now eight-year-old son Carter did not want to go to school. He was soon after diagnosed with behavioural and sensory issues. I wanted to do something to address his worries about going to school. We looked for information online and in libraries but there wasn’t much available that would have been helpful in our situation. So, I decided to write a book specifically on the issue,” she said. READ ALSO: Police carry woman from Bungonia Gorge after fall “The book addresses the real questions about what children would like to know before going to school. We sat down together with the book and it made him feel a lot better about going to school after reading it. “I decided to publish the book to help other families who must be facing a similar situation with their children. Not every family has a happy child who wants to go to school.” Mrs Ledlie derives inspiration for her book from her children and family. The books are based on her son Carter whose nickname is Mister C. READ ALSO: Aged care sector needs $7 billion more each year: report The author/illustrator of children’s books did several ‘book runs’ during COVID-19 restrictions to ensure that families get the help they want. “I did many such runs around our local area and in the ACT where I was able to chat with family and friends, who were also having a difficult time with their own mental health, during isolation/quarantine times,” she added. Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up below.

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CDC study finds coronavirus rarely kills children, but minorities at higher risk


Children from ethnic and racial minorities, those with underlying health conditions and those between the ages of 18 and 20 are more likely to die, a CDC-led research team wrote in a study published Tuesday in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The report also showed just how unusual it is for children and young adults to die from coronavirus. Among the 190,000 deaths tallied in the country, only 0.08% — or 121 — were reported in those under 21. The most updated report from the CDC shows 377 children, teens and young adults aged up to 24 have died from coronavirus.

The researchers asked 50 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands to submit information on coronavirus deaths in those under 21, between February 12 and July 31. Forty-seven jurisdictions responded.

Among the approximately 6.5 million Covid-19 cases in the country, the researchers found a total of 391,814 cases of Covid-19 and MIS-C in those under 21. While people under 21 make up 26% of the US population, they make up only 8% of all reported cases.

Hispanics, Blacks and American Indian/Alaska Natives were disproportionately affected.  A total of 44% of the 121 who died were Hispanic children, 29% were Black children, 4% were American Indian/Alaska Natives and 4% were Asian or Pacific Islander. While these groups represent 41% of the US population under the age of 21, they accounted for approximately 75% of deaths in that age range. Fourteen percent of the deaths were in white children.

“Infants, children, adolescents, and young adults, particularly those from racial and ethnic minority groups at higher risk, those with underlying medical conditions, and their caregivers, need clear, consistent, and developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate COVID-19 prevention messages,” the researchers wrote.

While 25% of the deaths were in previously healthy children, 75% had at least one underlying health condition and 45% had two or more. The most frequently reported medical conditions were chronic lung disease, including asthma; obesity; neurologic and developmental conditions and cardiovascular conditions.

The breakdown among the different age groups varied substantially, with those in the younger age groups doing better than adolescents and young adults. Approximately 10% of the deaths were in infants under the age of 1, an additional 9% were in children between 1 and 4, with another 11% in the 5-9 range and 10% in the 10-13 range. But almost 20% of the deaths were seen in teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 and more than 40% were in 18 to 20 year-olds.

This matches up somewhat with earlier CDC statistics that found 0 to 4-year-olds are four times less likely to be hospitalized and nine times less likely to die than 18 to 29-year-olds, and 5 to 17-year-olds are nine times less likely to be hospitalized and 16 times less likely to die than 18 to 29-year-olds.

Boys fared worse than girls: males accounted for 63% of the deaths compared with 37% for females.

Even children with no symptoms can spread Covid-19, CDC report shows

Even though children are reassuringly less likely to get severely ill and die, they can still get infected and transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others, according to numerous studies.

For example, in one study published last week in the MMWR, researchers analyzed contact tracing data from 184 people with links to three child care facilities in Salt Lake County from April to July.

They found at least two children who had no symptoms not only caught the virus, but passed it to other people, including one mother who was hospitalized. One eight-month-old baby infected both parents.

“The infected children exposed at these three facilities had mild to no symptoms. Two of three asymptomatic children likely transmitted SARS-CoV-2 to their parents and possibly to their teachers,” the researchers from the Salt Lake County Health Department wrote in their report.

Kids can carry coronavirus in respiratory tract for weeks, study suggests
Another study out of South Korea analyzed data on 91 asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic and symptomatic children diagnosed with Covid-19 between February 18 and March 31 at 22 centers throughout that country. It found that 22% of the children were asymptomatic. The study was published at the end of August in JAMA Pediatrics.
“This highlights the concept that infected children may be more likely to go unnoticed either with or without symptoms and continue on with their usual activities, which may contribute to viral circulation within their community,” wrote two doctors from Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, in an accompanying editorial.

The CDC researchers of the current study said it is important to keep a close eye on children infected with Covid-19. “Although infants, children, and adolescents are more likely to have milder COVID-19 illness than are adults, complications, including MIS-C and respiratory failure, do occur in these populations. Persons infected with or exposed to SARS-CoV-2 should be followed closely so that clinical deterioration can be detected early,” they wrote.

Jacqueline Howard, Sandee Lamotte and Lauren Mascarenhas contributed to this report.



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Thelma Schwartz says she witnessed the removal of children from mothers with disabilities



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November 24, 2020 20:44:12

Thelma Schwartz, the principal legal officer at the Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service, told the Commonwealth inquiry the child protection system is “bleak” and in “crisis”.


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Two children killed, toddler critical as car crashes into Wyaralong Dam in south-east Queensland


Two children, aged five and 13, have died after a car crashed into the water at Wyaralong Dam, near Beaudesert in south-east Queensland.

A six-month-old baby, a one-year-old toddler and two adults are in hospital.

The toddler is in a critical condition.

Queensland Police Inspector Douglas McDonald said the two adults and four children were in a Land Rover Discovery when it crossed onto the wrong side of the road and broke through a road barrier, rolling down an embankment before ending up on its roof in the dam.

Passers-by, including two off-duty doctors and a critical care paramedic on a day off, helped pull people out of the submerged car.

“It’s a tragic and confronting scene,” Inspector Douglas said.

Rescue helicopters have transported patients to hospital.(ABC News)

“It’s absolutely tragic for the family.

“It was fantastic work [by the passers-by] to help rescue the occupants. Their actions were pivotal in making sure this wasn’t worse.

“At this stage, the vehicle is still submerged, police divers attending.

“It’s relatively shallow. The vehicle is on its roof. The wheels can be seen above water.

“We expect to be here until this evening conducting investigations.”

Three rescue helicopters and more than a dozen emergency vehicles attended the incident, which happened about 2:00pm near the Overflow Estate Winery.

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A police car flipped over while rushing to the scene.

One police vehicle flipped as it rushed to the scene, but no officers were hurt.

The two adults in the Land Rover — a woman in her 30s and a man in his 20s — were transported to the Princess Alexandra Hospital by road. Both suffered leg injuries.

The one-year-old had to be sedated before being flown to hospital, having become agitated after receiving CPR.

Mark Nugent, a senior operations supervisor from the Queensland Ambulance Service, said the actions of the passers-by helped save lives.

“The six-month-old was removed from the water. There was no CPR [done] on that little one and they were conscious the whole time,” he said.

“The emergency response was exceptionally good.”

Police said they expected the road to be closed until at least 8:00pm.



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NSW Integrated Birth Certificates to allow children to include both birth and adoptive parents


When Felicity and Adam Moreau adopted Christian a couple of years ago, they also embraced his birth parents as part of their family.

Three-year-old Christian now lives in Erskine Park in Western Sydney and his birth parents regularly have video chats with him and they meet up several times a year.

“We treat them like extended family. We’re in each other’s lives forever, and they treat us the same way,” Felicity said.

When Christian gets older, he’ll be able to decide if he wants to include both sets of parents on an Integrated Birth Certificate (IBC), which people who are adopted can now apply for.

The certificate includes information about an adopted person’s parents and siblings at birth, and parents and siblings after adoption.

Christian Moreau speaks regularly to his birth parents.(ABC News: Bindi Bryce)

Anyone adopted before November 16 can apply for an IBC; anyone adopted after that date will be issued a post-adoptive birth certificate.

Both are legally recognised and will allow the adopted person to use whichever they choose.

“It’ll give Christian the option, later in life, about which birth certificate he wants to use for his ID. And it’s important for him and his life story,” Felicity said.

A dummy example of the new Integrated Birth Certificate.
An example of the new Integrated Birth Certificate.(Supplied: NSW Government)

The NSW Government has made the changes to complement its open adoption policy, which mandates that adopted children must know early on who their birth families are, and be able to keep in close contact.

The amendments to the Adoption Act were brought in in August.

Since 1965, adopted people have only been able to have their new parents and siblings listed on their birth certificate.

Crucial part of identity

One of the state’s largest family care organisations, Barnardos, who helped the Moreaus adopt Christian, says children must know about their heritage.

“The ones that come into foster care, often have had that very rough start in life. So knowing their origins as well as living with a stable, permanent, new family is going to ensure that they have good outcomes as they grow into adults,” said CEO Deirdre Cheers.

According to Barnardos, the number of open adoptions is rising in NSW, with 160 coming out of the foster care system just last year into new families.

Adam Moreau says it has worked out well for Christian, with his former foster family and his birth parents keeping in touch with him.

“We keep them in the loop and they’re basically another Nan and Pop for him, and another Aunty for him,” he said.

“He’s got a lot of people that love him and do have his best interests at heart.”

Felicity and Adam Moreau with their son, Christian.
The Moreau family welcome communication with Christian’s birth family.(ABC News)

South Australia has already introduced the new birth certificates and the ACT Government is also looking at bringing them in.

The NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, Gareth Ward, said it was completely up to the adopted person to choose what they wanted on their birth certificate.

“It’s nice to be able to say to them that you now have a choice to reflect on your birth certificate, your life’s journey,” Mr Ward said.

“For some, it may well be just their adopted parents, but it’s important that we empower people to make that choice for themselves.”



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Children allegedly steal liquor and 4WD before highway police chase


Five children are accused of stealing alcohol, then a car and trying to outrun police up the M1 Motorway between Logan and Brisbane.

The group of boys and girls — aged between 12 and 14 — allegedly stole a large amount of liquor from a bottle shop in the Brisbane suburb of Sherwood, at about 5:30pm on Friday.

The police helicopter spotted them and began tracking the Toyota LandCruiser.

“The vehicle allegedly drove erratically at high speeds around the Logan area, posing a risk to other road users,” a police spokesperson said in a statement.

A tyre deflation device punctured the car’s tyres, however the 14-year-old boy who was allegedly behind the wheel continued to drive dangerously on the rims of the car.

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Dashcam footage of the 4WD, with the driver accused of ramming a police car.

Police pursued them north along the M1 Motorway where they allegedly rammed a marked police vehicle.

The four officers inside suffered minor injuries and were taken to hospital.

Another three police cars that tried to intercept the group were also damaged.

The car was eventually stopped in Greenslopes
The car was eventually stopped in Greenslopes.(Supplied: Prickle Evans)

The children were eventually stopped near Greenslopes, in Brisbane’s south, and some were taken into custody without incident.

They have been charged with a range of stealing and driving offences and will be dealt with through the children’s courts.

Police bodycam captures second police chase

In a separate incident, a man has been arrested following the dangerous operation of a vehicle through East Brisbane on Friday evening.

At about 5:30pm, a stolen car driving dangerously collided with three stationary cars at the intersection of Stanley Street and Wellington Road in East Brisbane.

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A 20-year-old man from Brisbane is assisting police with their enquires.

During this time, police saw the car and began a short pursuit along Stanley Street at Woolloongabba.

The car continued driving dangerously onto the Pacific Motorway, colliding with two other cars, at which point police terminated the pursuit.

The driver continued through Brisbane City before crashing into a truck at the intersection of William Street and Margaret Street.

The car was significantly damaged causing the driver to leave the scene on foot.

Police found the driver in the botanical gardens a short time later and arrested the man.

A 20-year-old Stafford Heights man is currently assisting police with their enquires.



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