Child Protection: State Vs Family …

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In recent years, I’ve met several parents who are deeply concerned at the way parents are regarded with  suspicion by the authorities. One parent, whose (now grown up) son was particularly accident prone as a toddler, told me that if she were in the same position now, she would not dream of taking him to the doctor/accident & emergency, as she did, without giving it a second thought at the time.  It never occurred to her that anyone would think that she would harm her own, much loved, child.

Click on the picture of the baby to watch the Panorama Special “I Want My Baby Back”, broadcast on BBC 1 last night, to see why parents today are afraid to place themselves and their children in the path of medical professionals and social services.

But what if a child is in pain after a fall or other accident in the home or at play. What should parents do – what would you do?  Take your child to the doctor and hope for the best … or what? 

Key Question 1 : what can parents do about the erosion of their rights due to the excessive State interference in family life?

Key Question 2 : Is it time for the Catholic Bishops to speak out forcefully about this excessive State interference, perhaps suggesting that social services put their own house in order by focusing on the abuse on both children and the elderly in their own institutions? 

42 responses

  1. This is what any family lawyer will tell you: the British family courts are secretive, and perhaps totalitarian. They are desperately in need of reform, and have been for many years. When parents are the victims of gross injustice they are essentially gagged. They cannot speak about their nightmare or go to the press, or else risk of being charged for contempt of court.

    The social services is also in need of reform. How many occasions have they failed? Remember Daniel Pelka, Victoria Climbié and Peter Connelly. The social services were in contact with all of those families. Now consider all the times they caused the destruction of many innocent families. The most notorious was the Rochdale satanic ritual abuse case. The ‘Salem-esque’ histrionics of police and social services would be comical if it weren’t so tragic. Arthur Miller could not have written something so perverse. And this was all the way back in 1990! We haven’t learned.

    I once heard a horrific story a few years ago. In was in the aftermath of the infamous Professor Sir Roy Meadow, a Cheshire man, as I am. This anonymous couple appeared (illegally) on BBC television. They suffered the misfortune of their first child dying of cot-death. When their second child was born, it was taken away and put up for adoption.

    As for Professor Sir Roy Meadows. His scientifically dishonest performance in the witness box led to the conviction (later acquittals) of several innocent women, notably Angela Cannings (from the same political constituency as me). Meadows (note the title) stood up and said: “One tragic, two suspicious, three a murder”. How very scientific. Because he was confident, and a scientist, the jury believed him. Canning died soon after being released from prison, evidently the trauma of it.

    As for Meadows, he was struck of by the GMC. Rightly so. But somehow (possibly because he was wealthy and well-connected) he had this overturned by the High court. This is what the defence should have discovered: one of the women Meadows testified against traced her ancestors to a village in Ireland. What did they find in the parish graveyard? Several infant graves. Clearly, SIDS is hereditary phenomena.

    • Miles Immaculatae,

      I agree with you on everything. The whole child protection process smacks of totalitarian state control.

      It’s laughable to hear all the talk about caring for vulnerable children from the same people who think nothing of aborting babies in their thousands.

      As for Meadows – yes, it is disgraceful that he was re-instated after all the damage he did with his so-called scientific opinion.

      There has to be a clear-out of all these do-gooder social workers who are given unbelievable rights over parents and their children. Who loves the child more – the mother who gave birth to him or a social worker?

      • Josephine,

        “It’s laughable to hear all the talk about caring for vulnerable children from the same people who think nothing of aborting babies in their thousands”

        You are so right. The trouble is, the power-that-be in medicine don’t see the contradiction in their position. They don’t see that all a baby has to do to win the protection of the nanny-State is make it through the nine months in the womb. That’s the most dangerous time in the life of any child these days.

      • Josephine,

        I agree with a lot of what you say but re. your finishing question about who loves the child more, what about abusive parents who don’t love their children, at least not enough to stop abusing them? I think the only way to end the situation we’re in at the moment, with draconian measures against innocent parents, is to find another way to deal with suspected abuse. What that other way is, I’ve no idea.

        • Well, whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?

          The obvious thing in my simple mind would be for the medical people to treat the fractures, presuming innocence, send the baby home with sufficient follow-up visits, both in the home and at the hospital, to ensure that no abuse is occurring.

          What they are doing now, cannot be justified. Even the judge quoted at the end of the film admitted that the only thing worse than having a child removed and put up for adoption with strangers, would be the death penalty.

    • Miles Immaculatae,

      “This anonymous couple appeared (illegally) on BBC television”

      Would you explain this, please? How could they appear “illegally” on TV?

      • Their faces were shadowed and actors voiced for them. They had pseudonyms. If their true identity had been discovered they would have been in a lot of trouble. I suppose since no names were mentioned it wasn’t illegal, so perhaps I should have said ‘legally precarious’.

  2. It’s worrying that “professionals” in child protection are being allowed to make decisions that break up families, that a complete stranger can remove a child from its mother and put it up for adoption or fostering. I believe they are using the cases, such as Baby P, in the same way that governments use terrorist attacks, to take away more and more of the rights of the ordinary people of the UK.

    I’m lucky in that I’ve not been faced with the question “do I take my child to hospital” after an accident, as the mother mentioned in the article, but after seeing the Panorama Special I can well imagine that a lot of mothers of small children or babies will think twice now. Small children are forever bumping their heads and puling at things, so it’s inevitable that accidents will happen, no matter how vigilant a parent is. It’s very worrying that the assumption is always that a child may be a victim of abuse from a malicious parent.

    There doesn’t seem to be any organisation that speaks up for families in this situation. I think I’m right in saying that “Mumsnet” is government funded so they are not going to rock the boat.

    It’s good that Panorama has covered this but how awful for the people who featured in the programme – I can only imagine their heartache and despair.

    • So much for British Justice. Unbelievable, disgraceful behaviour by the so-called Child Protection agencies. They are the real child abusers. They clearly know nothing about the importance of bonding a baby with his/her mother and father or they would put their crackpot heads together and try to come up with another means of checking families where they believe a child may be a risk of abuse.

      For example, in our technological age, surely if they are really concerned about children in danger of abuse (as opposed to covering their own backs) they might install cameras in a home to monitor what is going on rather than taking a tiny baby from his/her mother and handing them to adoptive parents. And don’t tell me “prohibitive cost” – we’ve got cameras on every street in the land, just about.

      There has to be some other way of dealing with possible abuse, rather than removing children permanently from their parents, especially on dubious evidence. The damage to such a child (and parents) for the rest of their lives, is incalculable.

      The Panorama film is harrowing and heart-breaking. I am very glad indeed that I’m not a parent faced with the decision whether or not to take a small child to the doctor’s or hospital because I’m afraid my decision – based on what I’ve seen in that film and stories I’ve heard of a similar ilk – would be extremely politically incorrect.

      • Editor,

        I think the civil liberties campaigners would have plenty to say if the Government started installing cameras in people’s homes. I can’t see that working at all.

    • Concerned Mother,

      You are, indeed, lucky that you have not been faced with the question of whether to take your child to hospital or not, if you notice a bump or after your child has fallen or whatever. I’m also lucky that way but I do know others who are getting more and more concerned about the way the authorities are taking draconian action when abuse is suspected. At one point in the Panorama film, one of the mothers speaks of the social worker being “vicious” towards her. They came across as merciless.

      Having said that, what can be done if abuse is genuinely suspected?

      The social workers are in a no win situation, damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

      • The social workers are in a no win situation, damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

        Exactly right.

        Any parents who failed to seek medical advice for a child who needed it for fear of being suspected abuserswould be gulity of neglect. Any doctor or nurse who failed to question the circumstances of a child’s injury would be gulity of deredliction of duty.
        Everyone who comes into contact with children should be alert to the possibility that a child is being abused or neglected. We all have a duty to keep children safe. Better that many innocent parents are offended than one abused or neglected child is not helped.

        • Eileenanne,

          It’s a bit more than “innocent parents are offended” – did you watch the BBC Panorama? You can see it if your click on the picture on this thread. Babies have been removed from the home and given up for adoption. “Offended” doesn’t begin to describe the agony of these parents not to mention the damage done to the child when he/she realises that his/her parents (supposedly) abused him.

          I’ve not been able to get those (more than likely) innocent parents out of my mind. For example, the young mother, in tears, because her baby daughter has now been adopted. She’s gone on the run with her small baby son, for fear they will take him as well. Even when it was later shown that multiple fractures can be evidence of rickets, the court would not allow that to be taken into account, accusing the parents of making excuses. The unconscionable treatment of the other couple, who were initially allowed to see their son every three months and then in a telephone call told that this would be their final visit, because the boy had been adopted – is shocking beyond words. In the UK adoption is irreversible (as we were told on the film) so they can only write him a letter once a year until he’s 18. His grandmother, too, was in tears, recalling that she wouldn’t be here in 18 years so she had just seen her grandson for the last time. How heart-breaking to see the tearful father say that no matter what, the adoptive parents could never love their son as they did. Absolutely heart-rending. I find it unbelievable that anyone can defend this massive institutionalised attack on the family and – despite my disdain for politicians as a class – I have to say I do admire John Hemming MP for going against the false spirit of this diabolical age, to advise parents to leave the country if possible to do so lawfully. I’m not sure I have sufficient respect for the law here to add that qualification, but I think he deserves due credit for his honesty about the failures of the alleged child protection system and his concern for innocent families being torn apart.

          I’ve absolutely no time for the child “protection” industry. And I entirely disagree with you that parents who failed to seek medical advice out of fear they would be accused of being abusive, would be guilty of neglect. Seeing how the cases in the film developed, I would absolutely understand why any mother or father would be worried at the prospect of losing their baby. Older children can explain that they were not abused, but a baby can’t.

          The fact is, these professionals in medicine and social work appear to be in default mode with regards to child abuse – if a child has a fracture that the parents cannot explain, then they’re guilty of abuse. That’s their default position. Just visiting a relative of mine with a baby now at the crawling, falling over stage, I can well imagine that small fractures might result innocently in babies. To take them and give them up for adoption is manifestly evil and cruel.

          There has to be some other way. Remember, in the cases such as Baby P which are used as the excuse for the swift removal of babies from the home on the slightest pretext, the social workers stood at the front door and accepted weak excuses for not seeing the child. To go from THEIR manifest negligence to removing babies from parents where there is more than likely no abuse occurring, is downright scandalous.

          How anyone can defend these numpties in medicine and social work, beats me.

          • I have not watched the programme, but cannot imagine any good, caring parent using one bad action by medics and / or social workers – if such it was – as a reason to neglect to obtain medical attention for a sick or injured child.

            If you are really saying that you would not take a child with a burn, a possibly broken bone or some possibly serious symptoms to A&E, then I am astonished. I would also cross you off my list of possible baby sitters if I knew you personally and had ever thought of asking you to look after my chidren or grandchildren.

            BTW – in case any enquirers about the Catholic Faith are reading this, let me point out the editor is stating her own opinion here – NOT Catholic teaching. Deliberate failure to have a child’s injuries or illness properly treated would certainly be sinful – possibly gravely sinful.

            • Eileenanne,

              The fact that you haven’t seen the video, seems obvious to me.
              Watch the video and then tell me that you have no sympathy with parents who worry about taking their child to A & E.

              I didn’t say I wouldn’t take a child to hospital in the scenarios you describe. Thank God it doesn’t fall to me to have to make that decision. All I am saying is that I fully appreciate why parents are worried about placing themselves within range of medics and social workers. I defy anyone who has seen the distress of those parents on the Panorama film to say that they have no fears about taking their child for a check up – as in the case of the young mother who noticed a swelling on her daughter’s arm, only to have her put up for adoption as a result – I cannot imagine that any parent worthy of the name would not be worried today about taking a possibly injured child to a doctor or hospital.

              The relative I mentioned above, for example, absolutely adores her baby daughter, as do we all. If she were to innocently take the child along to A & E after a bump for example, and then discover via x-rays (as happened to the parents n the film) that there was a fracture(s) she would be dumbfounded. She’d soon be even more dumbfounded, however, because – as they admitted on the film – if there’s a fracture, they presume abuse. It would then by “goodbye, beautiful daughter”.

              Is that fair? Or, is it the case that, of course it’s fair in your world, Eileenanne, where the priests, bishops, popes, doctors and social workers are always right. Rhetorical question – I think we know the answer.

              • I have not seen the video, which is why I have made no comment on it.

                I have no idea where you got the idea that in my world priests, bishops, popes, doctors and social workers are always right. You have an unfortunate habit of jumping to unwarranted conclusions about people based on a very small sample of their opinions.

                Even if the most dreadful injustice imaginable was experienced by the family in the programme, no parent, or anyone else who has charge of a child, should ever hesitate to seek medical advice when appropriate. End of.

                • Last point – I do not trust any programme makers to give an absolutely fair and unbiased account of any event. It is entirely possible that viwers are not in possession of all the facts.

                  • Panorama is merely the latest in a long line of documented reports about such injustices to parents (and to the children, remember, who will grow up not knowing their real parents.)

                    You may recall the case of the solicitor, convicted and jailed for murdering her sons because they died in their cots. Eventually, thanks to the subsequent evidence provided following an investigation led by her husband and father, she was exonerated, released from prison, only to die soon afterwards.

                    So, don’t let’s shoot the messenger. The media is not to be implicitly trusted, I fully agree. But they do sometimes get things right. Goodness, even Pope Francis sometimes gets things right 🙂

                    PS there’s really no point in further exchanges between us if you haven’t watched the film. Seeing is believing, they say and assessing the cases as best we can via the film, makes all the difference. After all, there are other professionals interviewed, including a medic whose own child had the same symptoms as the baby (Melissa) now adopted into another family and a lawyer who acknowledges the sinister workings of the family courts. Any open minded person watching that documentary would not conclude that it’s biased.

                  • Eileenanne,

                    I agree, it’s a real danger that documentaries are skewed in a way that the programme makers want but this Panorama is very powerful and I doubt very much if the parents who are interviewed are guilty. One of the young men, father of the baby who was found with multiple fractures, admitted lying when he took the blame, thinking that would end the case against his wife. He thought it would all go away if he did that.

                    In general I agree with you about documentaries (I’ve watched many that were obviously biased) but I would encourage you to watch this one. It is frightening what can happen to innocent parents.

                • Well, forgive me for “jumping to conclusions” – I’m a very bad girl. I was just going on your apparently charitable defence of every priest, bishop or pope criticised in our articles. You appear to think that a professional person is always right – but as a professional person myself, I can assure you it ain’t necessarily so 🙄

                  Regarding your final paragraph – perhaps if you met a parent of a baby who absolutely adores that baby and dreads the day he/she may have to take that baby to a doctor after an accident, maybe then you would be rather more understanding of the gravity of what is going on. I’m miles more sympathetic to such parents than to any professional.

  3. I’ve just watched the film and it’s a real tear-jerker. How those family court lawyers can sleep at night is beyond me.

    Yes, why not try the cameras if they think there’s abuse going on? They could also make an order for suspect parents to attend a parenting class but not remove the children. The judge who said the only thing worse than that is the death penalty. Hear hear.

    What goes around comes around, so I wouldn’t like to be in the shoes of any of the social workers or family court lawyers in that film. Seeing the parents and grandparents of the boy put up for adoption, on their very last visit, was very painful. We should pray for all the parents in that film. Our Lady has a true mother’s heart, so may she intercede for miracles for them.

  4. “Seeing the parents and grandparents of the boy put up for adoption, on their very last visit, was very painful”

    Margaret Mary, I would be very surprised if there was a dry eye in the whole of Britain watching that harrowing scene. I just hope that the “professionals” were watching it and reconsider their barbaric practice.

  5. I heard a horrific story in the press a couple of years ago about two children in Edinburgh who were taken away from their grandparents (their mother was a recovering drug user) and given to two homosexual men. I think the reason given for their not being able to look after the children was that one them was diabetic.

  6. I have now watched the film and I’m speechless.

    Nobody would want children not to be taken to hospital if they were injured but I can well appreciate why any parent knowing what is going on in child protection these days would be worried. The bit where the doctor admits presuming abuse if there’s an unexplained fracture is terrifying.

    • Lily,

      Having watched the Panorama film, I too was speechless.

      The cases where two sets of parents saw their children taken away and subsequently adopted (which cannot be overturned), seems to be at odds with the failures of Social work in acting on behalf of those children who actually died because of abuse. In a way it is like a knee jerk reaction – a need to be seen to be doing something.

      It is a case of “Broken bones” that parents cannot explain. They have abused the child. I would say where was the investigation? Of two sets of parents facing such accusations, one was successful in having children returned as I think there was a predisposition of Vitamin D deficiency within the family, which was proved I think and accepted.

      The other couple when it was mooted, was not accepted and their son was adopted.
      To be innocent and yet accused of abusing their children is a terrible thing and certainly causes great suffering. Surely investigations checking for Vitamin D deficiency are necessary, such as in this link:

      http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/news/20100609/genes-may-play-arole-in-vitamin-d-deficiency

      I agree too that British family courts should not be secretive like they are at present. As Miles Immaculatae says, parents are definitely gagged.

      • Theresa Rose,

        I think the exonerated parents you mention were parents accused of murdering their son. Only when a post-mortem – on another child, I think I’m right in saying – identified rickets as the cause of multiple fractures in that child, were the murder charges dropped. That still didn’t help the other families who were told they were using the Vitamin D deficiency/rickets possibility as an excuse!

  7. “Key Question 2 : Is it time for the Catholic Bishops to speak out forcefully about this excessive State interference, perhaps suggesting that social services put their own house in order by focusing on the abuse on both children and the elderly in their own institutions? ”

    I meant to say before that the above key question is very important. The bishops are good at speaking out about poverty etc. but so far haven’t mentioned this sort of injustice. A statement from the Bishops of the UK on that documentary would be a good idea.

  8. It’s just a pity they don’t have the same concerns for the unborn child. These same people are quite willing to sit back and allow an unwanted child to get the same treatment that a blocked drain gets by Dynarod.

    By the way, Eileenanne, I’ll bet you are the life and soul of the rare party you are invited to.

      • Franker, they’re really easy.

        You just type a colon : and then the small dash – and then the right hand parenthesis ) without leaving any spaces and this is the result 🙂

        3LittleShepherds put loads of others on the General Discussion thread and it’s the same principle all the time – e.g. they taught me how to do the wee smiley face with the rolling eyes by typing the colon : followed by the word roll and then another colon : (without leaving any spaces) which gives you this result 🙄

        Really easy when you get the hang of it – feel free to practise and I’ll delete the unsuccessful attempts later.

        They’re really useful for all sorts of reasons, not least if you want to say something that might seem personal but you don’t mean it to me. Like, Frankier, honestly, you can’t do smiley faces? Gerrourahere 🙂

  9. The State actually owns a child after the child is issued a birth certificate. The way around it is not to comply with the system. The same goes for marriage, the Church should only marry a couple with the sacrament. If they did this, the homosexual lobby which is planning to test the Church would be disarmed. Without the birth certificate, a legal fiction and straw man, the State cannot seize a child. Common Law overrides legalism, as has been proven in a number recent court cases. I declared myself a free man when a police constable threatened me with ticket. Much to his chagrin, he had to walk away without issuing the ticket that would have attempted to extort £100 from me. We have to learn the difference between Law and Statutes.

    • Robhaidheuch

      I’m sure if I tried that, I’d end up in court charged with obstructing justice or something.

  10. We are under no obligation to buy a TV licence, as we can choose to refuse the terms of contract offered by the commercial enterprise that calls itself the BBC. It is statute legislation, ie an offer of contract, and no police constable can assist the BBC in fraudulently attempting to extort money by menaces , as the constable would be breaking the oath he has given to uphold and protect our human rights under Common Law.

    • Robhaidheuch

      I’m wondering if you are a lawyer – I don’t think ordinary people like me would get away with not paying our TV licence.

      Speaking of lawyers, I wonder why loads of them haven’t contacted the BBC to offer to help do something about the adoption law? If parents are shown to be innocent after their child has been adopted out, surely they should be able to get them back?

  11. I’ve watched the Panorama video a second time and I’ve completely lost my sympathy for the social workers and family courts system. I now think that a child should never be removed from its parents, never, unless there is undeniable clear evidence of serious abuse. Even where there is abuse, there should be an attempt to educate the parents and no child in any of these situations should ever be put up for adoption. There should always be hope for the parents to get them back. The child who is removed from parents is going to be damaged, that’s for sure. The bonding is broken and can never be restored and as the man said when their little boy was taken away and put up for adoption, no matter how good the adopting family is, they can never love the child like the real parents do. He was crying so didn’t even finish that sentence. I thought this film was powerful first time I watched it but second time was harrowing. I’ve noticed that the headlines on this blog get criticised but this one is straight down the line, because we are definitely in a situation where it is the state versus the family.

    Another thing is I’ve not seen any mention of this Panorama on the TV news or in the papers. Other programmes, e.g. about care homes, were in the news a lot after they appeared on TV. This taking of children from their parents is so serious, so I wonder why it is not being given more of an airing?

    • Fidelis,

      I couldn’t agree more. No child should be taken from the parents, no matter what. Your suggestion about an education programme if necessary and maybe some other measures to HELP the parents, not to judge and condemn them, would be a vast improvement on the nanny state we have just now.

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