Difficult path to child health

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HEALTH professionals in Sheffield are treading a very difficult path in working towards encouraging the city’s children to follow healthier lifestyles, particularly where their weight is concerned.

Even among youngsters, this is a delicate and highly emotive topic.

So there will be sympathy with both sides in the latest case where 11-year-old Charis Roper was left distressed after reading a letter from the health service in Sheffield saying she was ‘clinically obese’. These are harsh words and, though they were not meant to be read by the child, were taken to heart by the youngster. She is now refusing some food for fear that it makes her put on even more weight.

We know that the services need to work with families to ensure children do not become what some would prefer to call ‘technically’ obese. And they should be supported.

However, Charis is a happy, healthy and active child. And there will be other borderline cases like her.

It is a lot to ask, but the health service ought to find a way to get their message across without potentially causing damage. It is better in the long run.

Victims of crime get rough justice

FOLLOWING the harrowing trial of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, her family made a public statement condemning the way they had been treated by the criminal justice system.

Sadly, and shockingly, they are by no means the exception.

The criminal justice system is weighted so far in favour of the defendants and criminals, it beggars belief.

And a succession of Home Office Ministers, starting with our own MP David Blunkett have pledged to review the system to give more compassion to the victims.

But each promise has led at best to ineffectual change, and mostly, no redressing of the balance.

Take the experience of Brenda Peters who lost her brother Trevor Richardson in an arson attack on his home in 2009.

Reading her experience of the court process will not fail to leave you with a justifiable sense of anger.

How on earth could a court rule that the recording of the phone call Trevor made to the fire service as he was trapped in his burning home, should not be played because it would be too distressing for the defendants?

And how can someone jailed for manslaughter be freed from prison just 18 months after being convicted?

The Government’s Victim Commissioner, Louise Casey, has promised guaranteed rights for those bereaved by homicide. Sorry, we have heard this too many times before.

The criminal justice system needs ripping up and starting again with the needs of the victims put before those of the criminals.