Posted on Friday 10th August 2012
The Bulgarian newspaper UTRO has published an long interview with Dr Chris Williams, about disabled children in state orphanages. A recent BBC documentary about these children seemed reminiscent of similar reports 20 years ago about the plight of children in the orphanages of communist Romania.
Chris was in Bulgaria doing a series of lectures about his research into crime and abuse against people with learning difficulties. He pointed out that, while the documentary seemed to show that things need to change, these images need to be interpreted with care. It is easy to take shots of children in these contexts, which appear to show bad treatment by staff, when the problem is bad government policy. Nurses may seem hasty in how they bath and feed children, but we do not know how many children they have to bath and feed every day. He concluded, "Of course we feel like kicking people to change things, but make sure we kick the politicians who can change things, not the nurses who cannot." We should also not let reports of problems in other countries distract from similar problems at home. The same week, staff at a care home were convicted of serious abuse against adults with learning disabilities, and managers severely criticized by the judge, in Bristol.