It should be recognised that all those involved in child protection have a difficult path to tread. On the one hand they are condemned for not intervening earlier, as in the Baby P case, but they are also attacked when they act with unwarranted zealotry, as in the Rochdale satanic abuse scandal. Unfortunately, many parents today appear to lack parenting skills and seem less able to properly discipline their children in a firm yet caring way. There is thus an inherent conflict between the principle of allowing families to bring up children as they think best without interference, and the need for the state, and its agencies, to intervene to protect children from harm which sometimes occurs in the home.
Clearly, children need to be protected from all those who seek to cause them harm. For over a century charities such as the NSPCC and Barnardos fulfilled this role with distinction, retaining the confidence and support of the public with very little, if any, criticism. But in recent years a more questioning attitude has arisen towards the outlook and priorities of the 'child protection industry' as it is now sometimes labelled. Many are now asking whether child protection services are intruding too deeply into what more properly belongs within the domain of private family life. In addition, some have questioned whether child protection campaigns are generating a climate of exaggerated fear and concern, without impacting much on the problems they are seeking to address. Striking a balance on this will never be easy, but society needs be on its guard against the state nationalising the upbringing of children.