"She's us princess"... Karen Matthews on her daughter, Shannon
For those readers unfamiliar with England's Northern dialect, it translates as "she's our princess" ie something precious. Very precious and something to be treasured.
NOT something to be drugged, kidnapped and hidden away in a double bed divan for more than three weeks.
Yet this is what happened to schoolgirl, Shannon Matthews. And, today, her mother was convicted of various crimes, including orchestrating the snatching and confinement of her daughter.
Anyone watching tonight's BBC's Panorama programme will have been left in no doubt where the blame lay. With the mother. The mother of "all lies".
Or was it? The programme posed more questions than it answered. And the chief policeman interviewed said that it was Karen Matthews' complete lack of responsibility (for herself and for her children) that was at the heart of the matter.
There was little mention of Shannon's father; where was he in all of this tangled web?
And this sorry tale reminded me of another child neglect case - albeit, much, much worse - that of Baby P. Here, too, the father was very much on the sidelines. Apparently, he DID try to intervene and has now been served a gagging order by Haringey Council, to stop him talking to the media about HIS take on the murder of his son.
Panorama talked about the story of Shannon Matthews exposing an underbelly of society that Britain was unaware existed. Errr, I don't think so.
Like Baby P, social workers were all over this family - Karen Matthews with her seven children by five different fathers - but, in the end, decided the children were better off with the family.
Neighbours and family reported Karen to social services. Baby P's relatives did the same. And even the dreadful case of the British Josef Fritzl...involved social services.
Now, I don't want to demonise social workers. Far from it. But what I do want to ask - and since my time on earth is limited - is how did the control of those departments, where the welfare of children is dependent on political correctness, happen? Why is it that targets are more important that child safety? For most people watching and reading about these cases, common sense would prevail and say, nay, scream that something wasn't right. Children shouldn't be left to exist in such squalid conditions. Sometimes, you DO have to intervene - however un-PC that may be - and remove children from woefully inadequate parents, step-parents or whoever else is an adult in that environment.
Ironically, if animals are kept in the same conditions, the RSPCA would remove them. Simple as. They may fail at the prosecution stage BUT the animals concerned would have been taken away from the hell and neglect that they were experiencing.
How is it, in 2008, that British children aren't afforded the same rights? Why aren't questions being asked about why Karen Matthews and the mother of Baby P are the way they are? Shame on us - not as individuals - but as a society.