“At Risk”

Did you know that in the UK that 72% of Forced Adoptions of children are based solely on “Risk of Future Emotional Abuse”? Risk is like saying that something may, or equally may not, happen at some point in the future. Can you imagine a policeman asking a judge for an arrest and detention warrant based on the premise that they believe a man “may” at some point in the future, rob a bank or murder someone? They would be laughed out of court and Human and Civil Rights Groups would be up-in-arms at the mere suggestion. And yet, the most draconian punishment a parent can suffer is to have their child removed and they will never see them again. No parent should ever have to grieve for a living child.

I’m reading a story from the USA about how children are dying at an alarming rate in State “Care”. What the writer doesn’t seem to realise is that children in State “Care” in every jurisdiction die at a far higher rate than children in the general population. In the UK the incidence of a child dying in “Care” is officially 4 times the normal rate, this was published by CAFCAS. Ireland has no official rate but I would estimate it to be 6 times. In some US jurisdictions it is 10 times.

Isn’t the point of taking a child away from a supposedly bad parent that they at least come out of the process at age 18 alive? In Ireland we know from a university study of child suicide, that a child in Irish State “Care” is at 10 times the national average risk of suicide. So if a child is “at risk” of emotional abuse with a parent, why is the suicide rate considerably lower with parents than in “Care”?

When you look at other statistics for “Cared For” children, regardless of jurisdiction, you clearly come to the conclusion that “Care” is an extremely dangerous place. So if we stopped taking children away and placing them in “Care” on the basis of “Risk”, we can only assume that many children could be saved from imminent death?

Adopted children fare slightly better, their suicide rate is “only” 4 times the national average. This may be due to the high failure rate of adoption, 1 in 4 for older-aged children. When an adoption fails, the child is dumped back in “Care”. Can you imagine parents dumping 1 in 4 of their children? Adoption is not the panacea many people believe it to be.

But let’s get back to “Risk”. When the State removes a child, the Social Worker should become the person responsible for the welfare of the child. In truth nobody is responsible. It’s not unusual for a child to be moved from foster home to foster home and have a regular change of social worker from 0 to age 18. Good social workers don’t want to work in Child “Protection”, in every jurisdiction the turnover of staff is far higher than any other area of the practice. Good social workers got into the profession to be Advocates and not prosecutors of parents and children.

The other problem with “Risk” is that social workers are working with very flawed tools such as Sociology and wouldn’t recognise a danger to children if they sat in the living room and watched it happen. What should have been the principle learning of the Baby P Fiasco, is that social workers are not capable of determining which children are at “Risk” or even in actual danger. In a similar case in Ireland known as the Roscommon House of Horrors, children were horribly abused and neglected. Despite social workers being involved for 11 years with the family, they didn’t see the threshold to intervention being met. There have been hundreds of similar cases that you will never hear about including deaths that could have been prevented if social workers were actually capable of protecting children.

The truth is that we know for certain that “Care” places children at far higher risk than leaving children with parents. This can be proven statistically, especially when you look at Outcomes and Suicide Rates. I also know of many cases when social workers refused to act and children died. So when we talk about risk, it should be clear that the highest risk to children is social workers. While they like to say they are damned if they do and damned if the don’t, the reality is that they fail in most cases, and they are only damned when they fail.

I gave a talk recently and I reminded people that 1 child had died in Irish State “Care” last week and another child is due to die next week. This pattern will repeat itself in every jurisdiction where social workers are at the hub of “protecting” children. The pattern repeats itself because social workers take away children on the basis of risk of future emotional abuse, and then go on to abuse those children in “Care” by keeping them at higher risk.  If social workers didn’t use such flawed methodology such as the “Thought Police” approach to protecting children, those children would never be exposed to actual risk in “Care”. The longer we delay fixing this awful system, the more children will die in “Care”.


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