Sunday, June 20, 2010

Damned if you do...

I see that the constant war between those who deride social services for failing to protect children and those who complain of the 'secretive' family courts 'kidnapping' children from their parents has escalated with more than 100 British families about to launch a class action at the International Criminal Court, arguing that their human rights were breached when their children were removed. The action, which is being brought by Freedom, Advocacy and Law, alleges that British courts and local authorities have breached Articles 6 (right to a fair trial) and 8 (the right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.

A spokesperson is quoted in the Telegraph report as saying that: "The possibility of future emotional neglect and abuse is not good enough, unless courts have a crystal ball I don't know how they can justify that." Indeed, if only the courts (and social services) had a crystal ball, they would never make any mistakes, including leaving children in a place where they subsequently suffer significant harm. Unfortunately, they do not have a crystal ball, and mistakes will still be made, in both directions.

Incidentally, there is a nice example of unbiased journalism in the Telegraph piece, where they state that the claim "will be lodged on July 1 at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, where political leaders are tried for genocide". Nice comparison. The campaign for the opening of the 'secretive' family courts is, of course, led by the media - no doubt, not entirely for altruistic reasons.

As I have said here before, child protection is a lose-lose game. You're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't. It may sound cynical, but a thought occurs to me: if the volume of the voices on the one side complaining of failures to protect children is roughly equal to the volume of the voices on the other side complaining that children are unnecessarily removed, then perhaps the system is getting the balance about right?

19 comments:

  1. I would like to hear you say that when your children are removed on the as yet undefined and undefinable "risk of future emotional harm" chestnut. This catchall excuse is the one thing the SS have in their arsenal which is absolutely impossible to fight simply because it /has no definition/.

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  2. The problem, as I mentioned in the post, is that the courts do not have a crystal ball. All that they can do is make what they believe is the best decision on the basis of the evidence available, including the evidence of the parents.

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  3. Evidence of the parents ? Sadly and contrary to what you appear to believe evidence of the parents in reports to the courts,(Which is what I assume you mean) bear very little accuracy. eg, their ability to parent their children,their mental health etc,reports are in effect inaccurate and in places blatantly fabricated.How a parent is to prove this of course is a different matter as a professionals integrity is questioned. But there is no doubt what-so ever that generally speaking the parent is guilty until they can prove they are innocent,which proves to be damn near impossible when it is the parents word against the relevant professional involved.

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  4. Thank you for your opinion.

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  5. Shamim Khaliq23 June 2010 00:56

    SS are more likely to place kids with abusive than non-abusive parents, are less likely than any other professional to correctly identify abuse, and children are better off with their "abusive" parents than in care. infanticide is increasing rapidly and occurs after SS have responded to a referral about a parent, though parents don't actually kill their kids till their cases are closed. the reason european papers refer to forced adoption as genocide of the poor is because the babies are stolen at birth and robbed of their family and culture for adoption.

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  6. Thank you for your (somewhat extreme) opinion.

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  7. The point of the action is that there are serious and everyday common place serious breaches of due process that amount to not only human rights but criminal acts and the UK system in it entirety refuses to address that and there is therefor no proper system of accountability or redress.

    The family courts are operating outside of the system of law in the UK with impunity.

    Every UK police force will refuse to deal with a crime committed in family proceedings even as serious as Kidnapping as raised by Tim Yeo MP in Parliament, but there is fraud, perverting the course of justice, withholding and manipulating evidence all to achieve predetermined sets of outcomes.

    It might be shocking to think that these courts operate more like criminal enterprises that UK courts of law, but that is what is being addressed so this system is no longer above and outside the law!

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  8. Another rather hysterically extreme opinion, but thank you anyway.

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  9. melizza moore23 June 2010 08:13

    Then of course there is the question of the expert witnesses that are called to write a report for the cases. The expert witness has usually never met the family in question before. He/she has already read all of the reports from the local authority that states negative things that have been worded to make it sound all bad. Then they write an equally bad report that will be on the L.A side. So when the judge reads this, he is bound to read bad things into it. No witnesses called that will say really good things about you, no voice, no power. If the L.A "think" you to be a rotten apple and decide to remove your child, then that is what will happen. End of.

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  10. A pretty damning indictment of expert witnesses, with which I suspect most experts would disagree.

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  11. omg! did you just call my comment extreme! gosh, i didn't include references because i thought you might look them up yourself in order to believe the academic research. ok, looking up references now to add so you don't call me an extremist. honestly, i just googled "social worker ac.uk" i really am insulted because we all know the system doesn't work but noone in the system bothers to do any work to make it better just makes excuses. family support works, not child protection, the research seems to say, and social workers should be avoided for the job at all costs because they have no expertise.

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  12. Shamim Khaliq23 June 2010 09:40

    Professionals with an area of expertise that measure directly are far better judges of risk to children than SS who focus on the negative (http://www.parental-alienation.info/publications/14-recresintrisassofchi.htm); children's services are more likely to award kids to abusive than non-abusive parents (http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/pas/dv.html). In fact, direct observation of 90 minutes a day over 3 days can help determine if a child is abused or neglected (http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/abn/93/1/106/). Instead, once an allegation of child abuse is made, social workers begin with an assumption that the abuse has occurred and their investigations are skewed toward providing evidence to support the allegation and not to take an impartial, even-handed or open-minded approach. evidence which can exonerate parents is often disregarded, ignored or withheld, or in some instances the evidence against them is distorted, embellished and fabricated (Prosser and Lewis, 1992; 1995). evidence is often faulty due to biased or dishonest reporting or errors in communication and SS are slow to revise their judgements despite a mounting body of evidence against them. SWs rely heavily on faulty intuitive skills; SWs' first impression of a family has enduring impact and parents' reactions to professionals during the investigation are taken as representative of the quality of parenting normally available to the child. SS are sceptical about information when it conflicts with their view of the family but are uncritical when the new evidence supports their view. children’s testimony is accepted when it corroborates the social worker’s assessment and doubted when it challenges it. Evidence from members of the public is completely ignored and written evidence is repeatedly overlooked in preference for direct reports from those present. SWs have a poor understanding of statistical risk factors. (http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/358/1/Common_errors_of_reasoning_1999.pdf).

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  13. Please don't bother - I have heard it all before, and I have better things to do with my time.

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  14. Shamim Khaliq23 June 2010 09:47

    ever since the numbers on child protection registers or subject to place of safety orders rose markedly (from 7,600 in 1985 to 29,800 by 1987 and 41,200 by 1989 http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2007/01/11/102713/What-have-we-learned-Child-death-scandals-since-1944.htm) and more mums are losing their kids (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/xsdataset.asp?vlnk=562&More=Y), infanticide has been rocketing up ((http://www.cypnow.co.uk/news/ByDiscipline/Social-Care/991980/Baby-deaths-result-abuse-rise-Baby-P/; http://kids.nsw.gov.au/kids/kidsstats/agegroups/infancy/trends.cfm). nearly all murderous mums have previously been referred to children's services (falkov, 1996; reder & duncan, 1999), though their kids are not on the child protection register at the time of death.

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  15. Shamim Khaliq23 June 2010 09:52

    european papers refer to forced adoption as genocide of the poor because the babies are stolen at birth and robbed of their family and culture for adoption ( http://www.editionsquartmonde.org/rqm/document.php?id=3104 )

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  16. Shamim Khaliq23 June 2010 10:09

    SWs are more concerned with making a defensible decision than a right one. the deployment of large resources to child protection rather than family support is inefficient and ineffective.
    a confidential non-punitive approach may be preferred
    pg xix http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr&id=nBLClXPed08C&oi=fnd&pg=PR13&dq=children%27s+services+uk&ots=S28mJiGNXs&sig=td4sNAIOYUPZZAUasoaFJmxqJwc#v=onepage&q=children%27s%20services%20uk&f=false

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  17. melthemoocher.wordpress.com23 June 2010 12:52

    Whatever is the matter John? A "pretty damming indictment of expert witnesses". Do you not want to see the views of real life people that are being made to look like "monsters". Is the truth too hard to stomach?.

    You try being cross examined and ripped apart by people who think they are correct and we will see how it feels for those professionals to be in a dock. What is good for the goose.......

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  18. I have never suggested that mistakes aren't made (I said in the post that mistakes will be made), but what I do take exception to is the suggestion that there is some sort of conspiracy to remove children from their parents - that is a nonsense, and an insult to all the professionals within the system who are working hard to achieve the best outcomes for the children concerned.

    This discussion is going nowhere - comments closed.

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