Won't Someone Think of the Children (Conroy's Folly)

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Something that I thought wasn't going to happen, today happened. Senator Conroy announced his plan to filter the internet (which I have previously referred to on this blog as "Conroy's Folly"). Admittedly, they have to get it through the Senate yet, and it's going to take a few coalition ministers crossing the floor to do it, but I just don't trust them. The fact that something I passionately believe in is hanging in the balance of a few liberal MPs bothers me no end. Politics aside, though (you can get the details on that on just about any other news site), what's bothering me the most is an alarming trend towards the idea that the government is responsible for child safety.

On the NSW Department of Community Services (DoCS) website, they list four different types of child abuse: neglect (being left without adequate care); physical abuse (smacking, or other forms of physical violence); psychological abuse or harm (emotional trauma); and sexual abuse. How many of these four are investigated by the department? Just one. Reports indicate that of every 23 reports of child abuse made, only one is investigated. What this means is that when a report is made, it is prioritised, and only the very, very worst investigated. In practice, this means that only those children at immediate risk of sexual abuse get even a second glance. Of the cases that do get investigated, however, a quarter of them are substantiated. This would indicate there's an extremely large number of children in NSW alone that have people concerned enough for their safety to report the case to DoCS, but are never even spoken to, let alone removed from the abusive situation, or helped in some way.

On the other hand, our government is now attempting to pass legislation to filter the internet. They're doing this with the catch-cry of "protecting the children". Apparently, it is no longer the responsibility of the parent to protect their child from net-nasties, but the government's. I am very interested to find statistics on the number of children who had inadvertently stumbled across RC (Refused Classification) pornography, paedophile rings, or other 'harmful online content', compared to the number of children who succumb to child abuse in their own homes, by family members or close friends, and who never come to the attention of the department designed to prevent that happening.

Why not use the $125.8 million earmarked for the government's cyber safety plan, and use it to fix DoCS? If the government were truly thinking of the children, as they claim, then it would be money well spent, and might actually save some kids lives.

Also blogging on this matter:
Be The Signal
Lauren Cochrane
Sometimes, Maybe, Never
Google Australia
Sleepy Dumpling
Atomik Soapbox
(More to come as I find them ... )


If you're angry about this, and I really think you ought to be, then do something about it:

* First of all, check out the No Clean Feed website from the EFA. It has a lot of information, and a lot of good ideas.
* Then, write a letter (yes, an actual letter, on paper, with a stamp) and send it to your local member, and to Senator Conroy's office. There's some good tips for letter writing on the EFA site.
* Sign the petition at Get Up or Petition Online.
* If you have a blog, or you're a member of a social network such as Twitter or Facebook, talk about it. Let people know what's going on, direct them to the No Clean Feed website and encourage them to spread the word too. Jeff Waugh also has some good ideas for changing your avatar. The more people talking and understanding this issue, the more force we as a population have.



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