The word “vulnerable” comes from the Latin vulnerabilis meaning ‘to wound.’ It means, or meant until coopted by the State, something that was in danger of damage, exposed to attack, in peril against some specific harm.
These days however the thing that’s most “in peril” is a child in danger of an interference of social workers descending upon them. So pity the poor child (and his parents) who attract the attention of the now-renamed Ministry for Vulnerable Children.
The very name just sounds Kafkaesque, doesn’t it. A whole Ministry of State to deal with (deal to?) children it identifies as “vulnerable.”
When formerly used “vulnerable” meant something exposed to some specific danger. But dangers now are just general, anything attracting the attention or redefinition of today’s social worker. So I was surprised to see welfare campaigner Lindsay Mitchell supporting the rewording, and I confess I’m not sure of her reasoning.
But she has done a powerful job of translating the other name by which the commentariat would like to call it: Oranga Tamariki. This translates as … well, something you’ll have to head to Lindsay’s post to find out. (But it’s well worth the trip.)