Letter: Caricatures of care

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The Independent Culture
Sir: In Suzanne Moore's otherwise excellent article "Who cares for these children? (6 November) she resorts to the same caricatures of children in care that many on the right have glibly used for years.

Having spent 14 years of my own childhood in children's homes, I am well aware that "many" young people in care do, indeed, fit her picture of disfunctional, damaged and sometimes criminal or destructive individuals. Because of changes in the care population in the past two decades, that is even more the case now.

However, equally many - most, I would argue - cope as best they can and do not emerge from the care system with a propensity to "steal and lie" and to "wreck the household they enter". Damage might often be internal, but it doesn't stop many from trying to make the best of the bad hand they have been dealt. I know this from subsequent experience, having spent a number of years working voluntarily with care leavers, very few of whom conform to Suzanne's appalling portrait.

Yes, Frank Dobson is shaping up as an admirable and committed Health Secretary in the field of state child care. Yes, children in care have been badly treated and deserve a better deal. But all the care leavers that I know as friends are sick to the back teeth of the swift and damaging pen pictures that are painted to serve some political argument or other.

JIM GODDARD

Shipley, West Yorkshire

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