Values or Prejudices? – What's best for the child?

Tony Sharp

In recent days, the Times newspaper has been running a story about the fostering of a young ‘white Christian’ child placed in the care of a Muslim family by a London council. The story has made much of the values and beliefs that the child is being exposed to, as well as other cultural experiences such as the food she is being given to eat (and food that she is not being allowed to eat), the languages she is experiencing, and so on. Various parties are expressing concern as to whether the child’s wellbeing has been properly considered in the decision made on where to foster her.

As ever, the pithy headlines point towards a black or white view of right and wrong but, over the week, the reporting has been balanced enough to demonstrate that the case is far more nuanced, and in an imperfect world, all ‘solutions’ will be shades of grey. After all, every child, however ‘stable’ or ‘unstable’ their family upbringing, will be exposed to a set of values and beliefs, a diet and a range of cultural experiences that will shape how they develop and how they feel.


Ultimately, I hope and pray that this child will receive a high degree of consistent love and affection from at least one (though hopefully both) of her biological parents, from her wider family, from her foster parents and from everyone who has the opportunity and duty to be her care-givers. If she gets that, then I believe there is every chance that her wellbeing will be assured.