Friday, 2 August 2013

RIP Daniel Pelka, sign the petition

Change the law to better protect vulnerable children like Daniel Pelka

  • Petition by
    Manchester, United Kingdom

  • This four year old child was starved and mistreated in full view of his primary school teachers and teaching assistants, who observed his desperate attempts to forage for food, his severe weight-loss and the numerous bruises on his body, before he was killed by his mother and step-father.
    Daniel Pelka's ordeal is all too reminiscent of the circumstances surrounding Baby Peter, in which many people in responsible positions - in this case teachers, teaching assistants, an education officer, social workers and police as well as other adults who came into regular contact with Daniel - could have intervened and prevented the tragedy, but failed to take the necessary action to save his life.
    Wouldn't it help if we had a law like France (and many other civilised countries – see appendix below), where it is a crime to stand by and not take sufficient action to help someone who is clearly in distress?
    Along with many others, I find it incomprehensible that Daniel's teachers and teaching assistants did not do more to help him. I am pleased to see today that the MP for Coventry North West, Geoffrey Robinson, has publicly expressed his anger at Daniel’s school and at social services, calling for the resignation of key individuals. “Bureaucracy triumphed over common sense, care, and compassion”, Geoffrey Robinson told Sky News “people seeing a kid beaten, starved to death in our own can’t just say there is nothing we can do about it."
    I am seeking a change in the law with regard to 'duty of care' as demonstrated - or not demonstrated - by the adults surrounding Daniel Pelka through the months leading up to his death. One way in which we can better protect children is to make those around them legally responsible – if an individual is able to help, then the law should require them to do so, as it does in other countries. I have already asked my MP Ann Coffey to raise this issue in Parliament.
    As with Baby P, Daniel was let down by all of the relevant agencies. Staff at his school did little to help him and social services say they were "deceived by a devious mother" - the evidence was there for anyone who cared to look, in the shape of this starving and beaten child. The fact that an education officer called at Daniel's home and saw his mother but not Daniel is also quite impossible to understand. How can a potential case of abuse or neglect be investigated if the child in question is not seen? 
    We need to ensure that adults with a duty of care come to the aid of vulnerable children, in this case to the aid of a child who could be seen to be literally struggling to survive. If those around Daniel had been legally obliged to help him, then perhaps the system would not have let him down him as it so tragically did.
    A full investigation into how our education and social services systems failed Daniel is now underway; its findings will be considered by David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Chris Grayling (amongst others). Now is the time to petition to change the law so that adults in the UK have a legal obligation as well as a moral responsibility to look out for, protect and safeguard the well-being of children in their care or sphere, so that we are able to better protect vulnerable children in the future.
    As Nick Clegg said this morning "Clearly people must have seen something was wrong with this boy, I think his death should be on all of our consciences."
    Please sign my petition in memory of Daniel Pelka.

    Appendix - duty of care, by definition:
    Parents have a duty to rescue their minor children... also applies to those acting in loco parentis, such as schools or babysitters.
    Criminal law [edit]
    In some countries, there exists a legal requirement for citizens to assist people in distress, unless doing so would put themselves or others in harm's way. As of 2012, there were such laws in countries including[1]Albania, Andorra,[24] Argentina,[25] Austria,[26] Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia,[27] Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France,[28] Germany,[29] Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland,[30] Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Spain, and Switzerland. 

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