Friday, 8 January 2016
A MATTER OF NEGLECT
Unfortunately for Gerry and Kate McCann, whenever there is a crime that involves an element of child neglect, their own case will be cited as an example. This latest case is that of Louise Fielden, the British policewoman who's baby son was taken away by New York Police after she was accused of leaving him alone in a hotel room for 30 minutes while she sterilised his bottles.
I want to feel sympathetic towards Ms Fielden, and indeed, the UK newspapers have portrayed her as the victim of a terrible injustice. Even though the charges against her were dropped, her baby son Samuel is now in the care of NY authorities, and what gripes Ms Fielden the most, with a foster carer of dubious morals who promotes lesbian and gay rights.
Looking at People v Fielden*, the charges against Ms Fielden are pretty flimsy, and the possession of codeine charge gives it all a whiff of desperation to prosecute on the part of the NY police. What I fail to understand is why this relatively minor case of child neglect escalated to such an extent that 6 months on, the baby is still in the care of NY authorities.
I find it stranger still that Ms Fielden is making a case against the foster carer, rather than pleading her case as a distraught mother. She seems less concerned that her baby has been taken from her, than she is about the quality of the foster carer. The newspapers both here and in the US carried a picture of Ms Fielden's injuries, received when she resisted arrest. Unfortunately, the finer details of what actually occurred are not available (unless anyone knows different?), so did the police barge into the hotel room of a single mother with a baby, heavy handed, which would be appalling, or is there more to this story than meets the eye?
I'm afraid Ms Fielden aroused my interest with her use of the McCanns neglect argument, it is British Culture, she states, to leave babies and young children alone for long periods of time. For me, that is like a red flag to a bull. I do not know a single person, British or otherwise, who think it is acceptable to leave small children on their own. Ms Fielden's continuation of the McCann lie that it is part of British culture, gets my heckles twitching. And I haven't, even yet, mentioned her boasts of being a good Christian and a proud Homophobe.
But let's return to the 'we all do it' prototype, this absurd charter for neglectful parents. Going by People v Fielden, had Madeleine been 'abducted' in New York, this elite group of doctors would have had every child endangerment charge in the book thrown at them. Could they have foreseen any danger in leaving babies and toddlers alone? Hell yeh! They were doctors! Being struck off would have been the least of their worries, prison sentences would have been far more likely.
The biggest fear the McCanns and their friends had on the night of 3rd May was charges of neglect. ALL of their careers were at stake, they would not have known what Portuguese Law was with regard to leaving children on their own. Note how they 'lawyered up' straight away. Look what happened to Ms Fielden in the US, she was arrested and her child was taken into care. The McCanns have fielded the neglect issue from Day 1. Quite brilliantly, it must be said, they even had dizzy sofa queens squealing that they did it too.
It is the neglect aspect of this case that, arguably, irks me the most. Are there any lessons to be learned the parents were asked in one of their early interviews. Yes, we did nothing wrong replied Gerry, checking' is a responsible form of parenting, we were just unlucky. The chances of an abductor being out and about whilst our babies were alone and vulnerable was something we could not have foreseen, ergo we are innocent. The question that should be asked of these doctors is 'What were the chances of babies and toddlers having an accident whilst alone, in the dark, in surroundings they were unfamiliar with? What were the chances of the whole group being charged with neglect if one of those children had an accident and died, as Rachel suggested? Or, as Gerry suggested as a worse case scenario, what if all 3 had been taken? Just what do these parents have to do or not do, to be liable for neglect charges, if leaving babies alone and one missing is not enough?
Lessons should have been learned, the main one being that it is morally unacceptable for responsible adults to leave babies and children on their own. It doesn't matter how many ancient traditions the McCanns and their supporters cite, we have moved on considerably since 1950's Butlins. There is a reason these 'traditions' have been abandoned by all thinking adults, it is because they were downright dangerous! We no longer give teething babies a noggin of gin either. The definition for toddler, should be 'accident waiting to happen'. They are a danger to everything and everyone around them, especially themselves. And for those still arguing the 'abductor' corner, the biggest danger is of course, ACCIDENT. In an average home, you will hear the thud of any little tyke falling out of the cot he/she has just learned to escape from and the patter of little feet as they go in search of mischief. Listening at a door or window would not pick that up.
I suspect there will be a lot of red faces when it is finally acknowledged that what the McCanns and their friends did with regard to their childcare on that fateful holiday was wrong on every level. The statements of the doctors make chilling reading, their attitude towards their children, downright bizarre. There seems to be no sympathy towards the babies and children who were suffering from sickness and diarrhea. Their innate selfishness both appals and astonishes me. There are no signs of remorse, no signs of guilt (even if we are not guilty, we feel guilt), and no accepting of any blame whatsoever for the tragedy that occurred. And perhaps, more significantly, no signs of shock.
From the very beginning, the neglect aspect of this case has been brushed aside. It was seen as cruel to discuss the subject in the face of the parents' terrible loss. They are being punished enough their defenders say. And it could have happened to anyone, say the brainwashed.
Those who argue there was no neglect, have 'bought' Clarrie's tales hook, line and sinker. If there was no neglect, the rest of the Tapas group had nothing to fear. Why would they voluntarily put themselves at risk of criminal charges? Charges that would destroy their careers. They have all defended their decision to leave the children on their own, going so far as producing a timeline that would protect them, should neglect charges be brought. We were checking regularly, look, we have written it down.
The McCanns have campaigned tirelessly to defend the neglect issue. It shared top billing with Madeleine on the night she disappeared. Convincing the world Madeleine had been taken by an abductor was easier than convincing the world their form of child minding was responsible parenting. Unbelievably they achieved it, and they still have morons on twitter repeating the 'we all do it' mantra as if repetition will make the lie, the truth.
I sometimes wonder if the Portuguese had been less compassionate and gone for the neglect charges, there may have been a completely different outcome. Ce la vie. Suffice to say, rather than neglect being the lesser of any possible charges against them, I think it was the neglect charges that scared them the most.