One of the things that struck me while watching the BBC2 documentary Protecting Our Children about the child protection team at Bristol City Council, is just how the fact any one of us is not in the same situation as the families shown is about luck as much as any great moral qualities we may possess.
I know that if our lives spiralled into chaos, if we openly took drugs, if we lost our jobs and couldn't pay the bills, if I was in an abusive relationship, if my child seemed neglected, if the house was covered in faeces,then there's a vast network of friends, families and neighbours who would step in, probably before it even became a big enough problem for social services to be involved.
But without this I think any one of us would be at risk. All it might take would be for a few delicately balanced details wobble - a job to be lost, a massive bill to be paid, depression to set in - and a whole spiral of other problems could start. After all, the mothers in this series were on the whole keen to do the best for their children, but had got themselves into a situation they didn't know how to rescue (bar the mother who seemed to put her relationship with a known sex offender before the safety of her child).
This was in direct opposition to the fathers who seemed to care much less about sorting their lives out for their children. Though the mothers didn't always manage it, they wanted to. In fact there's surely a post to be written there about the portrayal of men in the current crop of documentaries, from the hapless clowns that make up most the dads on One Born Every Minute to those on society's margins in Protecting Our Children.
All I could think last night as the final part of the series screened was how lucky we are that those lives shown are not our lives, and how sad we were for the children, but for the parents also, who through luck of the being born draw, clearly did not have the love, the support or the life skills needed to get their lives on track.