I described in the book what it was like at my first Family Court case, I described it as a Seance. Social workers were channelling the spirits of “What If’s” and “Probable” and “Maybe If”. If such a display had taken place in an open Criminal Court, it would have rightly been on the front page of every major newspaper in the world. But of course this was Family Court, an Alternate Universe.
I am currently reading a 350 page report into why Police removed children in emergency circumstances. Irish Police (Gardai) have the power under S12 of the Childcare Act. Police can enter any home , property or vessel if they reasonably believe a child to be in danger, and remove the child to a place of safety. This is a very necessary and useful piece of legislation and Police all over the world have similar powers.
The report was commissioned because of a lack of confidence that arose in Police removing children unnecessarily in 2 cases in particular, where police removed 2 white, blue-eyed blond children from Romanian nationals. At the time of these removals, there was a case published internationally of how foreign police force found a child who looked nothing like their “parents”. DNA Tests proved the child was not theirs, unlike the children removed in Ireland who DNA proved to be the offspring of their parents.
For one of the Roma children removed in Ireland, it was published that the child was severely traumatised by the event, the child died their hair black so they looked like their parents, presumably to prevent future kidnappings. Despite the fact that the High Court awarded damages, no fault was found with the police taking this action. Public opinion at the time wasn’t as supportive. Obviously, there was a Moral Panic around at the time due to the case of the child who was obviously kidnapped. The old wives tale of gypsies (Roma) stealing babies is alive and well and living in Ireland.
What I thought funny about the whole thing, other than the obvious trauma to the kidnapped children, I thought, “But what about Adopted Children who look nothing like their Adopters?”
A theme that seems to run through the 350 page report, and in the whole sphere of Child Protection itself, is that it’s ok to remove children on nothing more than suspicion. I’ve written in great detail about this in the book and don’t want to repeat myself, but why traumatise a child on nothing more than suspicion?
I also titled on chapter “How’s that working for you Dr Phil?” and I mentioned that Dr Phil said he would rather see 1,000 children removed if it prevents that one child “swinging in the breeze”. Really Phil? You want to traumatise 999 children on the off-chance it may save one? You want to make the system 999 times more expensive than it needs to be? I also wrote about “At Risk” which is a theory that something “may” (or equally may not) happen at some point in the future.
So it should be clear that when it comes to Child Law, people are willing to abuse the child on the off-chance that we may be saving them. In Criminal Law, which is predicated on the belief that 10 guilty men go free before 1 innocent man is convicted, we go out of our way to protect murderers and rapists rights, even letting some off on technicalities, but in Child Law that’s ok. In Child Law the parent is assumed guilty until proven innocent, and often the cases and system are so stacked against the parent that you cant prove your innocence.
They regularly abuse children because we think we are helping. As I have said many times; “There is no more heroic act than to save a child”. We mistake feeling good with believing we are doing the right thing. Hell, let’s take 1,000 children away, 1 of them may have been abused.
What is becoming clear from reading the 350 page report, is that the focus is on being a hero and saving a child, and not on how that child will suffer trauma if they had been wrongly removed. Yes, most of the children in the report needed to be removed. I support removing children from drunks and heroin addicts and any case where a child is in imminent danger. I do not support removing children on mere suspicion.
The report itself is authored by a person who writes most of these reports. Even making allowances for the usual biases the author shows, it still shows a deeply flawed belief that it is legal and morally acceptable to traumatise a child by wrongly removing them from their parents. The law itself is quite clear, you can remove a child in danger and take them to a place of safety. The only caveat is that the danger to the child must be established. If the danger cannot be established the child must be handed back to caregivers. Obviously a drunk caregiver places a child in danger. Obviously if children are wandering the streets they are in obvious danger and the situation warrants further investigation.
Mere suspicion is just cause for intervention, it is not evidence, it is only cause for further investigation and gathering evidence to make a case. Looking at the report it states that many children were removed by Police on nothing more than suspicion. This is well defined in Human Rights Law, it’s called Punishment Without Crime. It’s also classified as Torture in many cases, and the use of Coercion in many other cases is also contrary to Human and Civil Rights. And yet, many children are in “care” on the basis of nothing more than suspicion of risk of future emotional abuse.
When you look at statistics of Child Abuse and Neglect, both of which are crimes, you have to wonder about the vast differences between children removed and placed in “care”, and the number of Criminal Prosecutions for Abuse and Neglect. A friend of mine came up with a statistic that for every 184 children removed to “Care” for child abuse and neglect, there is only one criminal prosecution, how is this possible?
Many times in posts to news stories online I have pointed out that in Ireland, that every year “charities” claim that there are thousands of children sexually abused in Ireland. Every year the Child and Family Agency have about 550 “confirmed” cases of sexual abuse and presumably at least 550 children removed from parents, and yet, the Director of Public Prosecutions has only 40 prosecutions a a year. I find this staggering that 550 children have been confirmed to be abused, but only a fraction of people are prosecuted. I have pointed this out many times to no avail, even at a Press Conference. I also pointed it out to the Children’s Minister and the body responsible for investigating the Child and Family Agency. Are they letting off 500 Paedophiles a year, or are they “confirming” sexual abuse that never occurred?
I could go on ad nauseum about this topic, but I believe I covered it well in the book. The biggest dangers I see to children is Indifference and Public Opinion. We have no issues taking a child away on mere suspicion, not realising the damage it does to the child who didn’t need to be removed. Essentially we can abuse 999 children on the off-chance that 1 has been abused. It makes us feel like a hero to save a child and damn the consequences for the child, we were acting in their “Best Interest” and nobody can blame us.
What I found lacking in the report was any mention of the many kidnappings or attempted kidnappings by social workers “invoking” S12 even though they have no power to do so. I know of several cases of attempted kidnappings of newborns at hospitals. We had instructed the parents in these cases on the law and successfully thwarted efforts of the social workers to remove the newborns. S12 gives an Irish Policeman/woman (Garda) to remove a child in danger, the difficulty for the Police in these cases would have been for them to establish what danger a newborn could be at, in a hospital surrounded by doctors, nurses and staff. In these cases the Police instructed the social workers to follow the law and to go to court and justify their case before a judge.
There is another case of a kidnapping by social workers that occurred 9 years ago which presumably was beyond the scope of this report. I say “kidnapping” in the legal meaning as it has already been established by the Supreme Court that children in this case were taken unlawfully. In this case the children were returned after many months and the judge in the lower court called it a kidnapping. After years of fighting the State admitted fault, of course without a public admission of fault, and agreed to pay a paltry sum in damages, which were never actually paid. The father in this case appeared by himself in court many, many times, often opposed by 7 solicitors & barristers for the State. In the end, the State relented and admitted fault (in a Secret Court). The State then appealed their own case to the Supreme Court and successfully delayed the case for a few more years. The State basically lost in the Supreme Court, but are continuing to delay justice in the High Court.
The implications of this case are enormous for the State. It has been established that the children were kidnapped and the family want a full Police investigation into the persons who kidnapped the children. The State are blocking any attempt at justice for the family. This is in itself a crime and the State Solicitor could end up in prison if the law were properly followed. People working for the State believe they are above the law, the Supreme Court already ruled they are not. I have seen similar cases in other countries many times, these people set themselves up as heroes and above the law because “protecting” children feels good so they must be doing the right thing. I also wrote another blog about how social workers asked the Supreme Court in California if it was ok to lie in court, were they covered by immunity to prosecution if they had the “Best Interests” of children at heart.
I hope this piece gives people some insight to understand the thought processes of heroes who “protect” children. Maybe some people will also give some thought to the children who were illegally kidnapped in the case I spoke about above? I personally witnessed how the baby, when he returned from “Care”, suffered nightmares for a few years after and would wake up screaming thinking that someone would kidnap him again from his family. Maybe these heroes will try to dismiss the fact that the other child was contemplating suicide at the age of 6 and desperately wanted to return to his innocent parents. Maybe a Human Rights body somewhere will take an interest in the torture endured by this family and see how the State intervention caused catastrophic to a loving family?