Breach of trust, on every level.
Like thousands of people who watched Prime Time last night, I’ve spent the morning trying to focus on work but my mind keeps going back to the images of children being slammed down on mattresses, tiny toddlers being punished despite being far too young, a little girl being cursed at for putting her fingers in her food. I cried during the program last night, and I’m welling up every time I think about it today.
And now I’m getting angry too.
Angry at the staff who were directly involved in abusing the children.
Angry at the managers of the crèches for not running their facilities properly and taking due care of the children entrusted to them, most of whom were too small to speak for themselves.
Angry at the companies behind those crèches, who are clearly not monitoring their managers or staff properly, not ensuring regulations are adhered to, and beyond that, not paying staff properly. This is a specialized role, requiring people with empathy and patience, people who will be calm and nurturing even when children are having tantrums or a bad day. If crèches are prepared to hire under-qualified staff that have no real interest in working with children, it’s not surprising that there are problems.
I’m angry on behalf of the parents whose children feature in the footage – it must be utterly heartbreaking.
I’m angry on behalf of those children who have been betrayed and confused and left feeling less secure at such a young age.
I’m angry on behalf of all parents who send their children to crèche, because many of them are questioning themselves this morning, anxious and worried dropping their children off. Most parents feel happy and safe and secure with the carers who are looking after their children, but regardless many are worrying that perhaps they’re missing something or being naïve.
I’m angry that parents are forced to defend their choices; people who do not have children or do not need to use childcare are understandably asking their colleagues and friends why they aren’t taking their children out of crèche now. So parents who already feel guilty for working and who have niggling fears after last night’s program, are now forced to defend themselves to friends and work colleagues too.
I’m angry on behalf of all the crèche-staff who went into work this morning anxious about the fallout of this show. Good carers all over the country are in danger of being seen through the same filter as the bullying employees we saw last night.
I’m angry for parents who don’t use crèches but whose tax euros contribute towards payments to the crèches that featured last night.
I’m angry about the war of words – online messages and radio texts suggesting that working parents are getting their just desserts and have brought this situation on themselves by sending their children to crèche.
I’m angry for myself; I’m no longer sending my children to crèche, but did so for four years – last night my husband and I spent two hours talking after Prime Time, going back over ever carer that had looked after our two daughters to see if there was a chance that anything untoward had gone on. We are reasonably sure that none of the lovely people who minded our children could ever have behaved like the staff we saw on our screens last night. But you worry.
I’m angry at the HSE for not following up on breaches of regulations. I trusted that once regulations are in place, they must be followed, I never questioned that the Giraffe branch my children attended was anything but compliant, until I saw them listed on my TV screen last night, as being one of the centres that was in breach. I felt sick.
We have all been betrayed – by the staff, the management and the HSE.
All of this upset and anger and betrayal and infighting will be worth it if it leads to change, if this story doesn’t just die away when the next headline comes.