Has anyone asked if you have made a New Year’s resolution this year? Did you think of doing it yourself? I rarely make one (I learnt as a child that I just didn’t have the will power to give up chocolate!) but this time last year, I did make a resolution. I can’t recall the exact wording, but I was willing myself to put into practice some things which lockdown showed me were important
This year, it hasn’t even occurred to me to make one – that is, until I started writing this morning – and realised January 1st had passed me by. I recognise a tiredness within me – perhaps an apathy – born of a political climate where promises are made and freely broken, ideals and directives fervently proclaimed in public – and randomly trashed at leaders’ Christmas parties and in politicians’ private lives – and the pandemic drags on. And I am picking up that I am not the only one; Jo Public has reached the point where shoulders are shrugged and moral outrage is replaced by an indifferent ‘Whatever’. (I put an exclamation mark there initially – and then deleted it because there is no longer that exclamatory energy in the way it’s said.)
Yet I also know that for me – and you? – to continue to make any sort of difference to those vulnerable children and adults whose paths cross ours this coming year we need to challenge that fatigue within us that can so easily spiral downwards into indifference. So when I am told by one of the adolescents in our extended family – almost as if it was a joke – that she and most of her friends have received an unsolicited ‘dick-pic’ via Snapchat in recent weeks, I am resolved to add my name to the 17% of those who complain to social media companies for allowing that abuse to take place (The Online Safety Bill is still tracking its way through parliament – I don’t know if it will make any difference to the tech giants when it finally becomes law…and, in any case, it currently makes no reference to cyberflashing in its text – although it’s been illegal in Scotland for a decade and I know that people are registering their outrage right now). And why do so few complain? (75% of 12-18-year-olds receive this abusive material, but only 5% admitted telling their parents and 17% complain). Is it just seen as part of the rite of passage to adulthood, a rather fatalistic acceptance that this is how it is, and an awareness that despite all their protestations to the contrary, tech giants really couldn’t give a monkey’s.
If we come even closer to home, are we beginning to be equally passive when we are told that ‘our’ child doesn’t meet the criteria for a CAMHS appointment – because we know that there is a six-month waiting list – and if they are seen it may well be by a psychiatric nurse rather than a psychiatrist or similarly qualified mental health professional – and they will be offered just six sessions to resolve the trauma of an early childhood scarred by horrific abuse and/or neglect. Or, when we are told that they are not eligible for an EHCP, despite that history of maltreatment and abuse, and a concomitant incapacity to engage with classroom learning, do we just resign ourselves to a year of online tutoring until a suitable school place can be found? And all those other messages that come your way that communicate a disregard of your child’s/client’s pain and their need: will you just take them in your stride?
Let 2022 be the year of pro-active compassion – with a healthy dollop of outrage to kickstart the process (think Greta Thunberg, Tom Moore and Marcus Rashford if you want a role model!). And if you need some ideas to make the wheels turn faster, do get in touch with us and we can discuss some training.
Martha and Rachel