Aired by BBC1 on Monday 13th January, ‘I Want My Baby Back – A panorama Special’, may give us all pause for thought.
As a father and grandfather, I have seen many times, children in my care to become over excited or playing roughly and bouncing off the floor and walls. It is part of everyday play, whether they are cowboys fighting indians, or saving the universe from intergalactic robots, they will sometimes hurt themselves. Only when they get changed, are the bruises revealed. How many of you out there have felt people will think you are abusing your child if they see the bruises? I was a tree climber, a good one. My legs were always black and blue and my mother, on occasion, wondered if people would ponder what went on in our house.
Here in the United Kingdom we have a comprehensive social services system, essential it is too! It is a fact that some children are abused, and they desperately need protection. Our Social Services department though seem to hit the headlines in a big way when they get it wrong.
If any of you out there are going through this dreadful process, it is essential that you consult expert child custody solicitors. You cannot defend yourself in these circumstances.
Panorama addressed several specific cases where children were removed from their families for, what may be considered, as dubious circumstances. At a glance, these cases seem outrageous. ‘There but for the grace of god go I’ is the thought that many parents must feel when learning of these cases.
I fear that the featured family’s stories though, are just a drop in the ocean. For all of the good work they do, Social Services may be making mistakes every day and destroying families. Taking away from parents, their entire reason for living and permanently damaging the child’s feeling of security at home.
Take the case of Amy’s son who had multiple fractures. Taken into care along with his elder sister only to be returned home after several weeks. Were it not for expert representation, Amy’s children would never have been returned to her. She was powerless and railroaded by the system.
Now we need Social Services; they do an essential job. The do help and protect abused children. They are, however, only human, and if they suspect harm even without evidence then they must investigate. Sometimes this can lead to overzealous mistakes.
Then comes what, seems to me, to be a horrible flaw in the system; time. From an outsider’s point of view, it makes my blood boil. The time it takes to get a simple decision. Waiting another week to speak to someone. Another assessment that can’t be carried out until next month. All the time more harm is being done. It is quite shameful. All the stops should be pulled to find out whether that child is genuinely at risk as quickly as is humanly possible, not so it fits in with the directors diary. If mistakes have been made by the social worker, or abuse disproved, get that child home where they belong without delay.
Maybe it is time that the whole system is looked at again. Yes, remove a child if abuse is suspected, of course it is the right thing to do. Then, in that child’s interests, keep the parents informed and represented from day one. Set the machine swiftly in motion and give these cases the urgency that the children need. Provide the parents with a valid avenue of appeal to go down when they know they are innocent.
Panorama has shown that for some of us, the citizens of this country, the system is faulty. Thank heavens for the people who go to court in defense of such miscarriages.
This may be a simplistic view as I am an outsider but then again, most of us in this country are outsiders. So the director of Social Services would do well to cut short that business lunch and get back to work, before the British people hold him/her to account. This simply cannot go on any longer.