“Listening to children” a sign on a door in a children’s services building in Greater Manchester.

I remembered this sign this morning, as I listened to the latest news about the ‘Rochdale child grooming ring’.

(Makes it sound like a dog show.)

I took a photo of it; I will dig it out from the depth of my old back-ups because this is not a joke; I have an actual photo of a nicely varnished blond wooden door sporting a tasteful graphic-designed sign, in a nice sans serif typeface, upper & lower characters, ‘bas-relief’ in black on brushed aluminium.

About this ‘Rochdale child grooming ring’: I prefer to call it the ‘Rochdale sustained multiple child multiple rape case’ a kind of half-way euphemism. Because the term ‘abuse’ has lost its power to shock; we have social workers who call child rape ‘prostitution’ and a ‘lifestyle choice’; and police who don’t believe the girls and arrest them for criminal damage.

And yet, if I were to describe these events in the cold precise terms they deserve, it would disgust and offend and leave me open to charges of racial discrimination.

These are children.

In our offices, we have some special rooms like ‘the print room’ or ‘the toilets’; special places for things we don’t want intruding on our normal activities.

In this context, the existence of a room labelled ‘Listening to children’ is disgusting and offensive.


Because it suggests that listening to children might not be a constant, might not be a prerequisite, might not be something woven into the fabric of everyday work and life for the people employed to work with children in this tasteful scandinavian designer office.

These are children.


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