This week the media reports that a two-year old has been put into care by Social Services in the Midlands, awaiting adoption. The reason is that the local Health Visitor expressed concern as the child, who suffers from breathing problems, is literally living under a cloud – of thick smoke. Not factory smoke. Not car exhaust emissions. It is cigarette smoke from his parents’ smoking addiction.

When I first came across that story, I wondered if it was one of those cases of officialdom taking matters into their own hands without looking at the bigger picture. On a second reading, I realised this is about the media taking things out of context and the growing trend to sensationalism. The child in question wasn’t only exposed to smoke (which in itself would have been horrible), but a number of other dangers were reported at their home, such as unsanitary conditions, hoarding, etc.

Being a parent can be both a fantastic and challenging experience. If you are vulnerable, perhaps due to mental health conditions or multiple depravation issues, the path ahead is a thorny one. I have all sympathies for the parents, but as a society our duty is to protect the young lad, including his health. I hope he fully recovers and he has a loving upbringing.

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