Theodore Dalrymple's writes:
Scarlett's mother, Fiona MacKeown, brought 8 of her 9 children on a six-month vacation to India with her boyfriend in November 2007. (The one left behind—her eldest, at 19—was a drug addict.) Her nine children were fathered by 5 different men. She had received $50,000 in welfare benefits a year, and doubtless decided—quite rationally, under the circumstances—that the money would go further, and that life would thus be more agreeable, in Goa than in her native Devon.
Reaching Goa, MacKeown soon decided to travel with seven of her children to Kerala, leaving behind one of them, 15-year-old Scarlett Keeling, to live with a tour guide ten years her elder, whom the mother had known for only a short time. Scarlett reportedly claimed to have had sex with this man only because she needed a roof over her head. According to a witness, she was constantly on drugs; and one night, she went to a bar where she drank a lot and took several different illicit drugs, including LSD, cocaine, and pot. She was seen leaving the bar late, almost certainly intoxicated.
The next morning, Scarlett's body turned up on a beach. At first, the local police maintained that she had drowned while high, but further examination proved that someone had raped and then forcibly drowned her.
Scarlett’s mother, expressed surprise at the level of public vituperation aimed at her and her lifestyle in the aftermath of the murder. She agreed that she and her children lived on welfare, but “not by conscious choice,” and she couldn't see anything wrong with her actions. Apparently neither could many other parenting experts.
Dalrymple goes on to suggest:
This nonjudgmentalism surely helps explain why British youth are among the Western world’s leaders in such indicators of social pathology as teenage pregnancy, violence, criminality, underage drinking, and consumption of illicit drugs. Britain has the third-highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the industrialized world, according to the UNICEF report (only the United States and New Zealand are higher)—a startling case recently made headlines of 16-, 14-, and 12-year-old sisters, all of whom gave birth within a year of one another. British children have the earliest and highest consumption of cocaine of any young people in Europe, are ten times more likely to sniff solvents than are Greek children, and are six to seven times more likely to smoke pot than are Swedish children. Almost a third of British young people aged 11, 13, and 15 say they have been drunk at least twice.One day after Scarlett Keeling’s murder, a nine-year-old girl, Shannon Matthews, went missing from her home in Dewsbury, in northern England. Twenty-four days later, after an extensive police search, she was found alive, locked in a drawer under a bed in her stepfather’s uncle’s house. Shannon’s mother, Karen Matthews, 32, was also arrested, for child cruelty, neglect, and obstructing the police by lying during the search for her daughter. Ms Matthews also was a regular recipient of welfare payments of $40,000 a year, and had borne seven children to five different men. She has now became clear that Ms. Matthews engineered a kidnapping plot in order to win a newspaper award.
The main consideration inhibiting elite criticism of MacKeown is that passing judgment would call into question the shibboleths of liberal social policy for the last 50 or 60 years—beliefs that give their proponents a strong sense of moral superiority. It would be to entertain the heretical thought that family structure might matter after all, along with such qualities as self-restraint and self-respect; and that welfare dependency is unjust to those who pay for it and disastrous for those who wind up trapped in it.
Here are some other points to consider:
- 4/10 British children are born out of wedlock and the unions of which they are the issue are notoriously unstable.
- Easy divorce means that a quarter of all marriages break up within a decade.
- Britain does have the highest rate of child poverty in the West (except the U.S) defined as the percentage of children in households with an income of less than 50 percent of the median. So after many years of various redistributive measures and billions spent to reduce child poverty - it is, if anything, more widespread.
- The British government thus pursues social welfare policies that encourage the creation of households like the Matthews’, and then via yet more welfare spending, to reduce the harm done to children in them.
- Both women lived free of rent and local taxes and received healthy subsides from the state and boasted three computers and a large plasma-screen television.
[Update: 2009Feb13 Recently, after news of a 13-year-old father there were calls for better sex education.]