Benefits payments and abuse

Benefits payments are not just made to lazy cheats who refuse to work. For some, benefits can mean the difference between barely managing to survive and suicide.

Before the new Pope was inaugurated media headlines seemed full of stories about children who were sexually abused by priests. Of course, priests aren’t the only abusers and sexual abuse isn’t the only way in which children are damaged. Physical and emotional abuse take their toll. And abuse is far more prevalent than we like to admit.

Disability isn’t restricted to physical damage and deformity. One the most depressing aspect of abuse is that abused children often become socially withdrawn adults incapable of living a normal life; abuse can result in apparently normal people being unable to function within society because of their experiences.

Some are so damaged that they find it impossible to trust anyone. They cannot work, they cannot join clubs or societies. They survive by isolating themselves from society, some receiving therapy, some surviving by their own devices because therapy has been unable to help them.

Some can be seen shuffling down the road, unwashed, unkempt. Some manage to keep themselves clean and tidy but as soon as they are faced with having to interact with other people immediately withdraw into their shells.

Of course, some victims can put their abuse behind them and function normally. They can hold down a job, maintain relationships, have families and bring up their own children. Others cannot. For them, benefits aren’t a lifestyle; they are necessary for their very survival.

By lumping everyone on benefits as shirkers, by labelling abuse victims as benefits cheats, politicians like David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith are causing the suffering of abuse victims to continue, indeed to become far worse. Ans all those who are jumping on the bandwagon and ranting that they shouldn’t have to pay benefits from their taxes are just as culpable, just as guilty as those who committed the original abuse.

Collateral Damage

David Cameron promised victims of phone hacking that he would instigate the recommendations of the Leveson report as long as they were not ‘bonkers’.

Well, the recommendations have been analysed by many commentators and there is general agreement that they are well-considered and anything but bonkers.

Cameron was also shown during the Leveson inquiry to have had a close relationship with at least one editor and possibly more.

But now Cameron has declared that he will not support any regulation of the media that is based in law.

There is no reason why a law should not be drawn up that lays down minimum levels of acceptable behaviour by the media regarding unwarranted intrusion into the behaviour of others in their private lives but still does not interfere with the freedom of the media to investigate suspicious behaviour that suggests corruption or criminality.

Cameron’s refusal seems to suggest collusion with the media to thwart the promise he made so openly to victims of phone hacking. Has he broken his promise? It looks that way. Does that make Cameron corrupt? Even if he is, I can’t see the lily-livered Lib Dems willing to lose their role in government by voting against him so it looks as if he will get his own, and the media’s way. Unless something drastic happens, it seems that the victims, as usual, will be thrown aside as ‘collateral damage’.

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