Innocent until proven guilty.

I am cross. Not just a little annoyed or a trifle irritated. No. Properly cross.

“But why?” I hear you cry, “What has happened?”  

Well, it’s simple really. I’ve been watching TV again. In particular, morning chat shows, lunch time politics programmes and, of course, the evening national news.

It’s not good for me.

Two things I have seen over the last couple of days have made me seriously angry. Two things which, initially, don’t appear to be connected, but which, in my eyes anyway, are. As far as I am concerned, despite the obvious differences in the cases, the issue that has angered me is the same for both.

The first case is about a baby that was taken from it’s parents and put up for adoption, the second is about a, now deceased, national politician. What has made me angry is the way things, in both instances, have been said or done before the full facts were known. People have already been hurt or will, at least, be hurt in the future and, in both cases, this hurt could, so easily, have been avoided.

With regard to the case of the baby, the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the child itself have had their lives thrown into turmoil and this turmoil is not going to be over any time soon. Sure, there was a valid suspicion that there had been parental abuse, the child, after all, was covered in inexplicable bruising, but, what social services and the legal system did next, could have been so much less traumatic for all parties. I’m not saying that the child should have been left with it’s parents regardless but, surely, something better could have been done than what actually happened. The child was, initially, taken into care whist investigations were conducted and then, and this is the bit that makes me so angry, before the investigations were completed, the child was put up for adoption. Why? The child being adopted was so final. So complete. So irreversible. The investigation has now determined that there was no abuse. Nothing at all. Rather, there was an underlying medical condition, a medical condition that was known about, which had caused the bruises to appear. The birth parents had done nothing apart from love, care and worry about their child but now that child is part of another family. It is not the first time this has happened either. Other children have been adopted and then it has been found subsequently that it was all a mistake and there was no valid reason for this to have happened. This cannot occur again. We must learn from it. When there is a suspicion that abuse has taken place, wouldn’t it be a far better idea for the child to be taken into foster care, and regular supervised parental visits to be allowed, until the investigation was completed, Surely that would be better for everyone concerned.

In the second case, the politician was accused of rape. A heinous crime, certainly, but it was an allegation and nothing was proved. My issue is with the amount of media coverage that story was given and the distress that was caused. There have been articles in magazines and newspapers, items in chat shows, speculation in programmes specifically concerning the alleged sexual proclivities of national celebrities and what have we now learnt? Nothing appears to have happened. The charges have been dropped through lack of evidence. My issue is with the chat shows and the individual programmes about what may or may not have occurred. I can understand how short items on the national news about similar instances could help find other people who have experienced the same thing and who may want to contact the authorities, but, surely that should be it. Unsubstantiated allegations will cause nothing but distress, especially when no charges are subsequently laid. I’m sure there is a better way of doing things and, apart from a brief factual news item, there should be no other media intrusion into people’s lives until there is something that is worth talking about proved.

In both cases things would have been so much better for everyone involved if someone had thought about what they were doing before they did it. In the baby case the birth parents would have still had contact with their child throughout, and, in the case of the politician, his family would have been able to remember him as the person they loved rather than have his memory tainted by unproven allegations and media witch-hunts.

Let us all learn to think first about the ramifications of our actions before doing things that may well prove to be life changing and irrevocable. Let us all consider other people and the fact they will still have to live their lives after whatever it is is all over. Let us all adhere to the old  adage of innocent until proven guilty.

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