Reading the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy

by Susannah Hart

has left me feeling vaguely sick and I think a walk
is probably the answer, is often said to be the answer,
though I now understand physical intervention must
not be undertaken lightly and the appropriate training
must be given because the policy is designed to prevent
the impairment of health or development even though it has had
the opposite effect on me as currently I feel impaired, uneven,
unequal to the task of being real, such that it occurs to me
that humankind seems to be trying to find ever more
ingenious ways to make the bearing of reality more difficult,
else how could anyone have thought of all the horrible
things that someone somewhere is always doing
to someone else, whose vulnerabilities may or may not
include neglect, homelessness, mental health issues,
bereavement, previous abuse, but then again humankind
has form for this kind of thing as medieval warfare
I seem to recall was rather brutal and the skeletons exhumed
from mass battle graves show hacking injuries, great gouges
in the bones from mace and broadsword, and to be fair
that documentary on Vietnam that we’re watching
on Catch Up may not go heavy on the suffering caused
by female genital mutilation or child sexual exploitation
but it’s pretty full on when it comes to napalm and furthermore
the museum in Hiroshima strongly implied that the devil
has always had his hands full with party tricks and pranks
which leads me to ask myself whether any good will come
of all this knowledge as in point of fact the policy suggests
that the imagery should only be viewed on a strictly necessary
and need to know basis and certainly I did not need to know
about the buttons burned into the skin or the flesh hanging off
the wrists but now I do know and I cannot cease to know
while perhaps more usefully I also know what to do if a child
discloses and I recognise that this takes a lot of courage
and that I cannot stop paying attention because beforehand
the child may show signs of anger, sadness, bruising, silence,
they may wear long sleeves at inappropriate times, their lives
may be particularly vulnerable, more transient, chaotic
and unsupported than lives in general, and they may feel
guilty, scared and as if they have lost all trust in adults
and indeed when you think about it who could blame them.