Thursday, March 16, 2006

"At the end of her tether"

The wisdom of jailing parents of truants notwithstanding (i.e. go to jail for the bad behavior of another person), it is not particularly interesting to me that "Mrs. P." got off on appeal, rather that she was found guilty in the first place because she hadn't done everything she could by failing to enlist the help of the boy's father. What a novelty, eh? A court considering the need for a father's input.

Then she was cleared on appeal with the judge effectively stating that the first court had required her to prove her own innocence rather than starting with that presumption. If that is indeed the case, then I'm all for the decision - with the reservation that she should have called on the father - and for the extension of such clear thinking into accusations of domestic violence; but I won't hold my breath.

But then, we hear "Mr Justice Collins said there was no evidence that the father was 'someone who would have been of any assistance in that regard'." and now I am forced to follow the logic through and play spot the double standard. The point of the presumption of innocence is that someone is a presumed to be a normal, upstanding citizen until proven otherwise. It is appropriate to ask if there is evidence to the effect that he would not have been of assistance. It is not appropriate to dismiss the father on the basis that no-one's shown he's any use.

In the Guardian, we hear:

"This mother told the court she was at the end of her tether"

Oh, well that's alright then. The good old "end of tether" defense. (Only women need apply.)

"She had tried every which way to get her son back to school, including going to the social services and an outreach project, and didn't have a clue what to do next. "

Did anyone in social services or outreach (whatever the hell that means) tell her to CALL THE BOY'S FATHER!?

"The local authority decided to prosecute but took no steps to assist her whatsoever, even though it has far more services than a parent available to it."

Hmm, now where've I heard that before? A system which could help, but would rather make things worse. Hmmmm....

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