I recently had a brainwave. It was a fantastic idea, it was ludicrous; definitely one of my best…
Not long ago I was introduced by a friend, Rob, to a cause that he was campaigning for. Rob had mentioned the thing several times and I thought it sounded great, promised him I’d look it up, but honestly never quite hung onto the thought long enough to – you know – actually do so. Then one day I had a bit more energy than usual (insert tedious medical history and single-mum-of-two moan) and assured Rob that I really was interested and would go on “that there clever interweb screen”, as one of the charming regulars of an old market town pub sometimes referred to Google.
So I read about the twenty years of research conducted by WAVE Trust into the causes of child maltreatment and neglect. I read about how there are common and measurable indicators very early in a family’s life. I read the stories of desperation and hope that led to the forming of this campaign.
I learned, with both relief and sorrow, that whilst “child maltreatment” can mean “sexual abuse”, it does not always. Sometimes it means a father who fails to notice his daughter’s shoes are too tight because he’s not been fully sober for weeks. Sometimes it means a mother who is so stressed and lonely that she shouts at her baby instead of soothing it. Sometimes it means a slap when a cuddle would have solved the problem.
This cause, the 70/30 Campaign, struck my heart like angel touching a dusty harp and making it sing again. I cried the first time I read that there are ways to recognise and guard against the steep drop that tumbles parents into hurting their children. I cried because I can still remember feeling afraid and alone, remember how wide my eyes opened when I was young and confused and trying not to be “naughty” without understanding why. More than that I cried because in the months after leaving my babies’ father I had seen the same look in my daughter’s eyes. And yes, I’ve shouted when I should have soothed. I’ve smacked when she needed a cuddle. I’ve sat in the toilet while my darlings ate their tea because I was afraid I would get cross when the small one threw food at me again.
I’m not a perfect mum, I know I’ll never be that. I was naïve to think such a thing was even possible. But I love my children, and what I love –LOVE – about the 70/30 Campaign is that it is based on Primary Prevention. It recognises, supported by empirical evidence, that the key to helping children is in supporting their parents.
None of us are perfect. None of us are at our best all the time. None of us want to cause our children to suffer on any level or in any way. I truly believe that the majority of parents who maltreat their children didn’t get there quickly and didn’t get there by choice. 70/30 is based not on persecuting or punishing parents, but on giving them the help they need to be the parent they want to be.
I decided that this was the cause I wanted to fight for. It made sense to me, I believed in it. I wanted to do something to raise awareness and push 70/30 (70% reduction in child maltreatment and neglect by 2030) forward using the skills, experiences and resources I could call upon.
…I knew it was my best idea yet.
An exhausted ex-work rider with a complicated (but entirely manageable, thank the heavens) list of ailments, and a middle aged, previously injured horse who had had nearly eight years in a field having babies instead of racing, were going to compete in an official Endurance Ride.
So two crippled but feisty broodmares are now in training at a pace they haven’t even thought of for ten years, and when we go out in a few weeks time, whether we complete the challenge or not, we will be wearing the 70/30 colours.
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Campaign of Words