When kids are at risk from neglectful parents, thank God hero foster carers are there to step in

THIS has been yet another big news week for politics.

But the story that made the biggest impression on me was the one about a four-year-old child who had to be taught how to chew.

She had been so neglected by her parents in her short lifetime that they had overlooked even her most basic needs.

It beggars belief that any parent could be so preoccupied with their own lives that they can’t even focus on feeding their child.

But this poor little girl was described as “the most traumatised child” her foster carer had ever looked after, a High Court judge heard this week.

Aside from not knowing how to eat solid food, when she first went into foster care she would go for days without speaking.

The only way she could get through the day was to detach herself from reality and pretend she was “Princess Sparkle”.

A child psychologist said it was an “imaginary safe figure” the girl used to “avoid emotional pain”.

Before her parents separated, their lives were so chaotic and disturbing that the only way the child could protect herself was by retreating into her own silent world. That’s not only heart-breaking, it’s impossible for most of us to understand.

I know I am not alone when I say I would die for my children.

In an ideal world, when two parents realise they cannot look after their child — as these two surely didn’t — they would accept their daughter would clearly be better off being looked after by someone else

There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them, nothing I wouldn’t sacrifice for their wellbeing and happiness.

I would always put their needs before mine.

So it’s impossible to understand the mentality of someone whose child is not their priority, let alone someone who actively neglects their offspring as appallingly as this.

But, clearly, all was far from well in this household.

The girl’s father claimed he met her mother when he “engaged her services as a prostitute”.

She denied that, accusing him of being a drug dealer who was “physically and sexually” violent.

But if any of these things are true, then the foundation for a child so broken and damaged that she doesn’t even know how to chew becomes easier to understand.

In an ideal world, when two parents realise they cannot look after their child — as these two surely didn’t — they would accept their daughter would clearly be better off being looked after by someone else.

But that kind of rational and objective thought is often impossible from the eye of the storm, which is why social services sometimes have to intervene.


Luckily, this child is now being looked after by a foster family, although it is still unclear whether she will be permanently removed from her natural family.

I know the court has to be absolutely certain before making a decision as important as this but let’s hope there is no “might” about it. As experience has taught us, next time she might not be so lucky and could end up even more damaged.

This story is distressing and terrible. But if there’s a silver lining, it’s surely the foster carers who stepped in to help.

Foster parents who offer a home to a neglected child are heroic. To foster a young person who has been this damaged takes a special kind of dedication, compassion and strength.

All foster parents can do is try their best to help the child’s mental and physical wellbeing to recover

To support, comfort and love a child this broken is an amazing thing to do.

It must be unbelievably harrowing to step in and try to pick up the pieces for someone who’s had such a difficult start in life.

At times it’s also, no doubt, a thankless task.

Often, the legacy of a difficult start is such pain and devastation that the child’s behaviour is difficult and they are unable to form healthy attachments with other adults.

All foster parents can do is try their best to help the child’s mental and physical wellbeing to recover.

If they did not exist, then this country would be a much poorer place and I think we should all give them much more recognition.

Noose is fashion faux pas

IT’S all very well for Burberry to apologise about sending a model down a runway wearing a hooded top with a noose around the neck. But, as some might say, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Also, it would be easy to conclude that Burberry only apologised because it felt sheepish about the fact that Liz Kennedy, who was modelling for the label at London Fashion Week, said she was “ashamed” to have been part of the event.

Even though she didn’t personally model the noose.

Tagging Burberry and its chief creative officer, Riccardo Tisci, Liz hit the nail on the head when she wrote on Instagram: “Suicide is not fashion. It is not glamorous nor edgy, and since this show is dedicated to the youth expressing their voice, here I go . . .”

Luckily, her comments prompted Burberry to remove this item from its collection.

But seriously, how did it ever slip through the net of what’s OK and what’s not?

I know fashion is often controversial – remember heroin chic, anyone? – but I’m pretty horrified Burberry showed such appallingly poor taste at a time when suicide rates are on the rise and fragile mental health is increasingly a problem.

Does it really need to be spelled out that suicide is not glamorous?

I have friends who work with teenagers and young people with mental health problems – and let’s just say that if whoever designed this garment had any insight into the reality of suicide, they would never have made light of it.

Kids will ignore fast risk

EATING a high-fat diet in your 20s and 30s heightens the risk of ill-health later on – and not just because of weight gain.

Fatty foods cause a reduction in, and mutation of, so-called “good” bacteria in the gut, according to research in China.

Specifically, an unhealthy diet modifies microbiomes – which break down food in the stomach – and sparks a rise in inflammatory markers throughout the body.

That’s all very well but the trouble is you don’t give a hoot when you’re younger and do all the things you shouldn’t do because you can’t imagine the possibility of old age.

Even being 30 seems absolutely ancient when you’re a teenager.

There is some good news – if the damage is already done, we might as well eat KFC every night anyway.

Kim is my frock 'n' roll star

F you’ve got it, flaunt it, they say – and boy oh boy, was Kim Kardashian flaunting it in her vintage Thierry Mugler dress last week.

“Eye-catching” is the only word to describe her dress, the top half of which was made of less material than a bikini.

But what struck me more was the online abuse that was instantly hurled at her.

You know – vulgar, embarrassing, you name it.

It was as depressing and tedious as it was predictable.

The dress certainly would not be my choice. Too uncomfortable.

But Kim Kardashian can wear what she likes, people. Her body, her choice, yeah?

That’s what we feminists are campaigning for.

J-Lo and behold people

JENNIFER LOPEZ is impressive in many ways, not least in that she’s about to judge and executive- produce the third season of US TV series World Of Dance.

But on top of that it’s impossible not to admire her incredible physique.

I find myself looking at photos of her aged 49 and thinking, damn, this could be me – if I didn’t like cake so much.

The truth is, I really should work out more.

There’s no denying that, as with all things in life, you only get out what you put it – and J-Lo must be really putting in the hours at the gym.

She is my new role model. Oh look, a Victoria sponge!

[boxout featured-image="8495696" intro="ISLAMIC State bride Shamima Begum has expressed her shock at the “unjust” decision of the UK Government to remove her British citizenship."]The 19-year-old said the Home Office move was “kind of heartbreaking to read” and “hard to swallow”.
The problem is, if you run off to support terrorism then is it any wonder no one wants you back in the country where the very people you support have murdered British citizens?
In relation to her British passport – as the saying goes, you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.[/boxout]

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Just what the doctor ordered

Only Fools and Horses: The Musical hit the West End recentlyCredit: Rex Features

I WENT to see Only Fools And Horses: The Musical in the West End. My verdict? What a fabulously funny, nostalgic show – and just what the doctor ordered.

With all the doom and gloom going on in the world at the moment, it was so good to laugh out loud for a few hours. It was really entertaining and impossible not to enjoy.

In fact, it was a lovely jubbly way to spend an evening.

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