Why we hate the acronyms LAC (Looked after Children) and CIN (Children in Need)
and what we should be saying instead: a call to change the lamentably lacking labels being used today by UK organisations and government to describe vulnerable children
by My Clear Voice 29.10.2021
If you cannot see how offensive the terms CIN and LAC are to describe a vulnerable child who has been placed in the care of a local authority or who needs statutory support, please rapidly find some empathy.
These children have had a rough enough time and are often aware of these labels. It is completely wrong to use acronym labels that are literally pronounced “lack” and “sin” to describe vulnerable children. Because that’s a label you need to boost your confidence when your parents can’t look after you, or they don’t have enough to provide for you, so you need government help. No. They are completely insensitive acronyms and are totally unacceptable, unnecessary, disempowering and unfit for the 21st century.
These acronyms and all offensive acronyms used to describe children and their circumstances (or any vulnerable person, or anyone) need to be changed, now. There is no excuse for cruel labels, ever. Let alone educated adults continuing to label vulnerable children in this way. It is demeaning and encourages vulnerable children to see themselves as less than, as LAC-(k)ing and problematic. This is a completely false narrative of these precious human beings. These ugly acronyms are the problem. All children are precious, irrespective of their abilities, backgrounds or who they are born to.
To be a fair, loving and just society, we all need these acronyms to change, which are inexplicably being used normatively today by UK organisations and government, which, as evidenced here, impacts 93,000 children:
This must change now. Words are powerful. But rather than just criticising, we suggest two better acronyms that could easily replace these particular patently pernicious pegs:
CIN 👎 (Children in need) could be replaced with:
CEDAR - Children Experiencing Deprivation Accessing Resources
- the word cedar is a tree, trees are great, and cedar also sounds like seeder, an implement used for planting seeds. Children are seedlings to be grown into adults – they need investment and resources to flourish in their potential, especially where family support is limited.
LAC 👎 (Looked After Child) could be replaced with:
CUPoLA - Children Under Protection/Parenthood of Local Authority
- the word cupola sounds friendly and safe, like the treatment of children in care should be, and cupola means domed roof, a helpful metaphor of how a local authority should treat a child requiring a statutory parent, when family aren’t able to be around; by acting as a protective, sturdy, safe structure around the child, literally providing a roof over their head and a parental-type roof of social and emotional support to a good standard. It is helpfully descriptive of a local authority’s statutory duty to a child, nothing LAC-(k)ing.
To some this may still seem like an overreaction to something that is not that important. But it’s the difference between a child being wrongly encouraged to think through these labels “I’m a SIN and a LACK” to a child thinking and saying: “I’m a CEDAR and a CUPOLA” - I have potential to flourish and I should be protected.
Children in care or children experiencing deprivation often suffer poorer life outcomes than children not subject to these challenges. How we view these children impacts their lives.
The meaning and perspective we give to every child matters for life. Let’s uphold the value of all children, as a part of working towards a society that is truly just and equal.
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#justice #law #labels #humanrights #speakup #compassion #empathy #empower