Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Middle Class Doctors = Responsible Parents?

I should really post my thoughts on the recent shambles that was the Scottish Elections. However, the university system has decided this is exam season so my brain is too fried to start making sense of that chaos. For the moment I shall direct you to Mr Buckland's for some on the spot reporting of this incident.

So I am going to turn my thoughts to, in my opinion, a rather interesting sociological occurrence via the media. I am a great lover and critic of the media. It can be a wonderful outlet which opens an individual up to new ideas and opinions. Or it can be biased rot like the recent story of a child who has gone missing in the Algarve. First up, I will admit my own bias which is I love the Algarve. I have been going on holiday there for a number of years which has somewhat influenced my opinion on this matter.

For those unfamiliar with the story (or too damn lazy to click on the link) a young toddler has gone missing in Portugal. Her parents showed wonderful parenting skills by leaving three toddlers, alone in a ground floor apartment, whilst they went out for a lovely meal at a tapas restaurant. Goodness, I hear you cry, this must be some awful working class chav family who don't know how to look after their children. Er, nope. They're a middle class family and both parents are doctors. Not your typical 'Mum buggers off on holiday and leaves latchkey kids behind' headline. As a result (the BBC has been particularly bad at this) the media have been pointing out what the Portuguese police have been doing wrong and how the restaurant was 'only' a few hundred yards away.

Correct me if I'm wrong but there wouldn't be a problem if the parents had taken some responsibility for their children. Earlier news reports said there were NINE adults in the group. Nine?! And out of that nine NONE of them could avoid this fantastic dinner? Not one of them could have a lonely microwave meal for one and the company of three sleeping toddlers. Or here's a radical thought: take your kids with you! What gets me is that if this was a working class family from a 'rough' area the tabloids would be hounding them for neglecting their child. But we don't expect that behaviour from middle class families do we? So, the media has to take a different approach. Let's point out everything the Portuguese police have done wrong (in our eyes) and hopefully everyone will ignore the parents are entirely to blame for their child going missing. Toddlers are notorious escape artists and can get into trouble in a matter of minutes.

An extract from the above article
"The police had not issued a description of what Madeleine had been wearing, one of the first things a British force would be presumed to have done." She was wearing pyjamas. I'm not a kidnapper of small children but wouldn't logic deem that the culprit (if there was one) would have removed the obvious nightwear as soon as possible? Despite the crazy things Brits do on holiday, a child wearing pyjamas in the middle of the day would stand out like a sore thumb. The urban legend behind my argument is false but there is some logic there.

In the long run, a child has gone missing and I truly hope she turns up in a relatively undamaged way. The longer this goes on, the more I think this missing case is going to turn into another investigation beginning with M.


CB Buckland said...

Really good points Laura. It's interesting the way the media who are blaming the police (who have everyone out looking for this girl, would the same be done for a Portugeuse child?) and snapping the grieving parents at every opportunity. It was stupid and lazy parenting, children should be with them in the resteraunt experiencing culture and new food or an adult should be doing their job.

The class issue is a good point too. Media are going barmy, but it is a good distraction from the Scottish parliament and hits that maternal instinct of every mother to be more paranoid.

sheeldz, Marque said...

I have been thinking along similar lines as you. I wonder if the media were expecting the child to be found, and were gearing up for a scathing attack on the parents once the child was found, after a few days of sympathy. As it has turned out, they are still looking and are slwly coming to the position that it might not be likley that she will be found. I really hope shre does get found, but my point is that the papers might have set them up to be scapegoats once the child was found, but now they have shaped the whole countiry's position of dissappointment and horror at what is a pretty mediocre and been-told-before story.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting this! When the story first broke, I couldn't believe what I was reading. The parents stress that they took turns going to check on the children but for god's sake, it only takes a moment for a child to be snatched away. And I hadn't yet read that there had been nine adults in this particular group, which makes me even more peeved. I agree that at least one of them could have stayed behind with the children, or they could have all taken turns staying there so everyone got a chance to eat, if going out to eat was so important to them.

Another thing which pisses me off amazingly about this is that the family is trying their best to portray this incident as a result of poor police work, not as a result of the fact they acted totally stupidly.

This case recalls to mind a lot of the media swarm in the US when children go missing. There is a lot of criticism (and rightly so I believe) that when white children (particularly girls) of well-off families go missing, the media goes into a frenzy. It is rare for us in the States to hear anything about minority children going missing or children from less well-to-do families.

tommy_blue_eyes said...

Nice one Laura- my thoughts exactly! If the kid had been anyone else would anybody of even noticed. Typical selective media crap.