Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The BBC reports on a report from Whistleblower about nurseries, which dovetails nicely with my earlier posting about a woman who couldn't understand why friends thought she shouldn't put her five month old baby into a nursery in order to go back to work full time.

The shocking news that children are not well looked after in many of the nurseries around the country is not news. Even if you had the best nursery nurses in the country, a one to 13 ratio between the nursery nurses and babies makes it impossible for them to do anything but crisis control. They can't look after the babies properly.

Any parent knows that it can be a full time job to look after one baby properly and meet their needs. The idea that one person can do that for 13 babies is laughable. All over the country, in nurseries good and bad, children are lacking stimulation, lying in wet and dirty nappies.

My Quaker meeting in Uxbridge leases out the old building to a nursery during the week, and many of the older members regard this as tantamount to a social service. It's a dark building with high windows though. I would not have left any of my children there. I don't know whether the people there are good, bad or indifferent nursery nurses, but the building is totally unsuitable as a nursery. If the OFSTED inspectors were doing what the general public expect that they should, they'd have closed it down.

As a society, children have a low priority for many people, and our society's Victorian attitude that children ought to be quiet and not disrupt life for the adults is pervading everywhere. Mothers are being made to feel that they are odd or even destructive if they want to be with their children and particularly if they wish not to work in order to care for their children.

It's astonishing to me that there are not more tragedies involving children in nurseries. The biggest tragedy though will not emerge for some years, when these children become parents themselves and begin to inflict what happened to them on their own babies.

In a rich country like the UK, we have the opportunity to be giving our children a much richer childhood than their ancestors experienced. Instead, we are giving them money and things bought at the expensive of shoving them into nurseries as babies and schools to be tested to destruction throughout their childhoods. It's nuts.

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