Camila Batmanghelidjh: When a child commits a crime, the truth is we're all responsible

Share
Related Topics

Society is keen to hold children accountable for crime. In the name of justice, force and chemicals are used to achieve compliance: Prisons, Asbos and some 460,000 prescriptions of Ritalin a year, some of it for children who suffer attention disorders, but most of it for those who feel uncontained and legitimately chaotic in the face of unbearable life challenges. Criminal children are costing £280,000,000 in custody. At any given time, 3000 children are in custody. 80 per cent of them reoffend.

The questions is this: when children do harm, whose crime is it? In court will stand the child who committed the offence, but a more catastrophic injustice remains unredressed. The crime of those who allow childhood in Britain to be so destroyed that vulnerable children are left to simply survive it.

I anticipate the indignant response of those who believe progress has been made. But what is it worth when complacency allows 552,000 children a year to be referred to Child Protection, with capacity to register only 30,700 of them for often inconsistent help?

At the moment we are pursuing a case through the courts: an abused child who wants to kill herself because she can't get the right help. The civil servant did not intervene. The minister passed the buck. It goes on. The biggest killer of all is the "vanilla moment" when professionals stay quiet for fear of humiliating colleagues. Neutrality is killing aspiration to protect children and as politicians jostle for position, young people look on and see no point in pro-social allegiance.

If we want the level of violence to diminish, first we have to communicate the importance of human life. It's not a lesson of morality; preciousness of life has to be emotionally experienced and practically realised. In writing off one person, we facilitate violence as a repercussion. The crime begins with adults who fail to be passionate about quality care. 30,000 children on a waiting list for mental health intervention is a travesty. But adults get away with it because ultimately the child carries the punishment.

The injustice is infuriating, and, even if we don't want to admit it, it is making killers of us all.

Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder and director of Kids Company, gave The Children's Society Edward Rudolf Lecture last night

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Assistant Plymouth

£10000 - £20000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
No supporters react to results in the Scottish independence referendum at The Marriott Hotel in Glasgow as ballet papers are counted through the night.  

Scottish referendum results: Thank you, thank you, thank you to the No voters – the Union is saved

Andy McSmith
Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a visit to Scottish Widows offices in Edinburgh, where he made an impassioned plea to keep Scotland part of the union, saying he would be  

Scottish referendum results: David Cameron did the right thing, so why does Scotland’s vote feel like a defeat?

John Rentoul
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week