to wonder why on earth this child had not been removed from his parents?

(132 Posts)
Bogeyface Fri 18-Jan-13 22:37:27

Shaun Binfield, 45, and Sally Dent, 33, of Belper, Derbyshire, had both denied the charges and were convicted after a trial at Nottingham Crown Court.

Two-year-old Riley Pettipierre died in March 2012 after drinking Dent's prescription methadone which had been poured into a child's drinking beaker..............................The court was told that police found evidence of heroin and cannabis hidden around the house and scientific tests showed traces of both drugs in strands of Riley's hair.

Ms Coen said it was highly likely Riley had consumed heroin and cocaine in the months leading up to his death.

Quoted from www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-21064982

Why in the name of all that is good was this child still with these parents? He must have been a heroin addict at birth. Drug abuse should surely be a reason to remove the child at birth?

lisad123everybodydancenow Fri 18-Jan-13 22:41:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WorraLiberty Fri 18-Jan-13 22:42:53

I assume the test would have been done after death sad

Bogeyface Fri 18-Jan-13 22:46:13

But she gave birth, presumably under NHS care, was receiving methadone from the GP. The child would have been registered with a GP, surely the connection should have been made?

He would have needed special care at birth due to withdrawal, so SS must have been informed shouldnt they?

SashaSashays Fri 18-Jan-13 22:46:17

1. We're they aware of his exposure before death? Considering one was on methadone you would think SS would know.

2. I don't think drug use is generally considered enough of a reason for removal, especially if a child appears otherwise cared for, turns up for school etc.

ScalesAndMirrorsLie Fri 18-Jan-13 22:47:23

It's horrific IMHO that children now, this very minute, are suffering horrific abuse of all sorts.

I personally, would rather take every single child that might be in danger away from the parents/carers they are with. Than to give them a chance to offend.

Unfortunately that is the law/how it is/ the uk etc

Very sad. I couldn't work in this field. It would kill me.

Bogeyface Fri 18-Jan-13 22:49:33

For me that is a big problem, the missing years. You get midwife involvement after birth and you get school involvement from 4+ but you dont have to have health visitor involvement in the middle years. It seems no coincidence to me that the deaths of neglect, abuse etc that make the papers happen during those lost years.

Perhaps HV involvement should be compulsory. It would be annoying for those of us that are doing it right, but could be life saving to the children of those that aren't.

Narked Fri 18-Jan-13 22:50:13

Being an addict alone isn't considered enough to remove a child as far as I know.

3littlefrogs Fri 18-Jan-13 22:51:31

You can't open a newspaper these days without reading horror stories about the staff shortages and cuts in the NHS.

Social Services is at least ten times worse. Staff are being made redundant, administrative and clerical services are being replaced with inexperienced temporary staff, case loads are unmanageable, children are being left in extremely high risk situations and it is only going to get worse.

I am not the least bit surprised at this story. sad

Bogeyface Fri 18-Jan-13 22:51:53

scales I couldnt do it either. A good friend of mine worked as an advocate for children who had been taken into care. They told her what they wanted and she told SS or the courts. She said that she would get children who had been beaten, neglected and sexually abused (the same child) who would still want to go home to mummy and daddy, and she would desperately want to tell them that they shouldnt, but that wasnt her job. She was a far stronger person than me, I couldnt do it.

Lovelygoldboots Fri 18-Jan-13 22:53:14

The fact that it was in a child's beaker, well I am just incredulous. My brother came to visit me when he was on methadone and I was so fucking paranoid that my kids would get hold of it and did everything I could to make sure it was out of reach.

Bogeyface Fri 18-Jan-13 22:54:46

Being an addict alone isn't considered enough to remove a child as far as I know.

Sadly, I believe you. But why? Anyone who know's anything about addiction knows that they will service their addiction first. Thats how come previously law abiding loving people will mug old ladies, steal from their parents, partners or children, will shoplift, will hurt themselves to get morphine in hospital.

So an addict will not, by the very nature of addiction, do what a parent must do and put their child first. Therefore that child should be removed. Shouldnt it? Shouldnt it?!

Cortana Fri 18-Jan-13 22:56:20

I know where you're coming from and YANBU. When you read a story like this the urge to scream "But why FFS!" is strong.

From what I've read of those involved in the social care of children on MN it's not just a case of being better off without the parents. It's about social workers case loads, not enough time with each child, the effect being in care for years has on a child, resources.

So sad when a child's wellbeing is determined by resources, hats off to all of the professionals working against the odds to keep children safe, not a job I could do.

I know nothing about this case <disclaimer>. So v sad.

But this is why addicts need to get methadone daily dispensed at the chemist, taking it in front of the chemist with a sip of water afterwards (to prove they have actually swallowed it and are not going to spit it into a container once out of the shop in order to sell it on. Really).

Having said that I have experience of stable ex-drug users who are very good parents, so I would agree drug use alone is not a good enough reason to remove a child. However chaotic drug use/non-engagement with services/ drug use while also on methadone - big warning bells.

HollyBerryBush Fri 18-Jan-13 22:56:26

But if the parents had methodone, then they were trying (presumably) to wean off their addictions?

3littlefrogs Fri 18-Jan-13 22:57:00

ScalesAndMirrorsLie

Where would you take the children? Who would look after them?

Do we really think being "in care" is any better for many of these children?

Frying pans and fires.

As a former midwife and health visitor I wish there was some way of preventing some people from having children. However, I realise that is not a politically correct thing to say. But I have seen some terrible things.

Lovelygoldboots Fri 18-Jan-13 22:57:06

I have to agree with you Bogeyface. Addiction is a cruel disease and makes you self serving. I cannot see how a child can thrive with a parent in the throes of addiction.

Well ss probably had some involvement. I know in the area I live locked boxes are given to addicts to keep drugs away from the dc's. Not all ate taken from their parents, especially if only one of them is a drug addict.

I worked with some addicts in an inpatient detox centre who were given the chance by ss to become clean and keep their dc's.

Poor little boy though, it's heart breaking.

SashaSashays Fri 18-Jan-13 23:00:06

DM is a social worker. It's hard to explain on here but there is a lowering of standards once you've seen so much according to her.

Also probably in the eyes of SS, the boy had a parent who was not an addict (think the father although am just basing this on what I've read). If there were few other issues that got flagged up such as good school attendance or when they visited he seemed well cared for, SS will do their utmost to keep children with parents or family.

Predominantly because the car system is overloaded and has been failing for years. Look at statistics, many of the outcomes make it appear as if children aren't that much better off in care.

Lovelygoldboots Fri 18-Jan-13 23:00:13

HollyBerryBush, methadone is not a quick cure. Many people spend years and years on it and can lapse inbetween. I am not convinced it is a panacea for curing heroin addiction.

Narked Fri 18-Jan-13 23:02:52

What % of people using methadone are also still using drugs? I think it gets used as a cheap option. Sending people to residential rehab is much more expensive.

Bogeyface Fri 18-Jan-13 23:05:08

I am sure I am having a knee jerk reaction, but it just seems wrong and so avoidable.

I feel bad if I leave DD playing her cot for 20 minutes after a nap while I have a coffee and MN! I cant imagine sleeping off my drugs and allowing her access to heroin, cannabis and methadone. I just cant.

And I cant imagine anyone else leaving a child in a house where that could happen.

Spero Fri 18-Jan-13 23:06:40

A drug addict can still be a good parent. If they are engaging with support, trying to deal with their addiction etc, etc. There aren't enough foster parents as it is. If you removed children from the thousands of drug addict parents, where are you going to put them?

I agree that there needs to be more "state supervision" between six months and school. The official line is that not all drug addicted parents are poor parents, and that you can live a normal life on methodise long term, and that many people on methadone hold down jobs etc etc.

In a previous job, I worked with pre school families, and I can say hand-on-heart that I never met a drug addicted parent who put their child before their need for drugs. What is true though is that children remaining with even the worst of the worst parents, still have a better long-term outcome than those brought up in care. And that's the real tragedy.

steppemum Fri 18-Jan-13 23:09:30

actually there are addicts who are able to be parents. There are people who have long term 'steady' drug addictions, who manage everyday life surprisingly well. There have been some interesting programs about it.

There is a parent at our school who is a drug addict, apparently her kids have been in and out of care over the years, but she has them with her now. Kids have issues, the boy is in ds's class and he is very, very out of control, but is basically a nice kid. I wish someone had put him in a good stable family about 6 years ago, but it is easy to be wise in retrospect.

Holly - a lot of the time they're just put on methadone as a replacement with no plan to reduce and quit over time. It basically just replaces the heroin in a lot of cases but obviously is legal and monitored

All the patients we had for inpatient detox were on methadone and also still using heroin, I wasn't there long though. (student placement) Lots were also from Beler

Narked Fri 18-Jan-13 23:13:17

'A drug addict can still be a good parent'

Some might, but most won't. Addiction is selfish. If it's drugs vs the child's welfare, drugs will win every time.

Bogeyface Fri 18-Jan-13 23:19:45

Addiction is selfish. If it's drugs vs the child's welfare, drugs will win every time.

This is why I cant understand why addicts children aren't removed. And yes, it is true that a childs life will be worse if they are in care, but that is a seperate (and very important) issue. From what my child advoocate friend told me, children in care thrive until their teens. That is when they are aware that they will soon be on their own. They have no one and they know it. Even their foster parents are limited as to what they are allowed to do. So they hit 16 and are suddenly thrust out into a world that they have only seen the very worst of and dont know what to do. Thats why they end up repeating the cycle that of their parents (often themselves victims of the "care" system, a misnomer if ever there was one).

Hitting 16 or 18 does not make a person an adult. Imo the care system should continue until 25, foster care being available until that age if the person needs it.

Spero Fri 18-Jan-13 23:19:48

Funny isn't it, I've been on loads of threads where people are outraged at 'risk' of future harm being enough to remove a child and demanding proof of actual physical harm before they can be taken.

Some drug addicts can be good parents. With help and support. If you took away all the children of all the drug addict parents, you would have to find thousands of new foster parents - from where? and the Daily Mail and John Hemming would explode.

I have dealt with loads of parents who were drug addicts. Quite a few failed. But some made it. They are given help and advice about locking away their methadone. This woman put it in a child's beaker. not every drug addict is so stupid or so careless. Always assuming that's true and she wasn't giving it deliberately to the child to keep him quiet. That also happens.

trouble is, none of us have a crystal ball. It is not always easy to tell who will be the 'responsible' addict and who won't. But because, quite rightly, so much fuss and worry is raised over removing children, sometimes children get left when they shouldn't be.

If you really want things to change/be better, train as a foster carer so there are real options for these children.

DoJo Fri 18-Jan-13 23:24:02

I agree with 3littlefrogs - the care system is not necessarily a solution so much as a different set of problems...

SashaSashays Fri 18-Jan-13 23:30:03

There are so many children being seriously neglected, abused or in need of care that with the children of addicts the potential for neglect or harm is not enough of a driver to remove them. The system is overwhelmed so they prioritise the most at risk first.

Drug care and in fact drug management in this country is piss poor, but that won't get better any time soon, not with the cuts.

Care for children will also not improve with the cuts, SS are just doing their best with what they've got. Some of the stories I've heard first hand accounts of, make leaving your child with its dad while you sleep of drugs sound like good quality loving thoughtful parenting. Levels of neglect, which with poverty rising are likely to worsen, are astounding.

Bogeyface Fri 18-Jan-13 23:31:01

This woman put it in a child's beaker. not every drug addict is so stupid or so careless. Always assuming that's true and she wasn't giving it deliberately to the child to keep him quiet

Thats exactly what H said sad

I am not allowed to foster because I cant offer a room to a child. We own our own home and are overcrowded according to local standards. I would love to, I really would, infact my exH said that I would adopt the world if I could.

maddening Fri 18-Jan-13 23:31:24

I think that while these people are under treatment such as methadone then they should be allowed to live in safe homes with their children under a level of supervision - otherwise no - until they are stable they should not be in sole care of the children.

In a centre the children can be safeguarded and the parents might have a greater level of success.

Imo anyway.

A friend who was an ex-addict had a friend who came-to to find her 3 yr old dead after she had found a bottle of methadone while her mother was unconscious - this was over 20 years ago - it is wrong

Bogeyface Fri 18-Jan-13 23:34:36

I suppose I just dont understand.

I have 6 children and I would die for all or each of them. They are all the light of my life, they are the reason I wake up and breathe, if something took them from me I would have no reason to live.

I dont get the concept that they could be any less than the most important thing in the world, and it breaks my heart to think that there are children all over the world suffering for a lack of the love that is theirs by right sad

Spero Fri 18-Jan-13 23:38:34

a residential assessment place can cost £50,000 for six months. How on earth are you going to fund placements for all the drug addicts when essential services and benefits are being cut?

I do understand why people are so angry and upset. What I don't understand is why you think nothing is being done - not because no one else has noticed the problem but no one can afford to do anything about it.

I am sorry op that you can't be a foster carer. We really do need many, many more people.

lisad123everybodydancenow Fri 18-Jan-13 23:41:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

IdreamofFairies Fri 18-Jan-13 23:43:43

a truly awful story i dont know much about it

but as far as i know 'just' being a drug addict doesnt mean they can remove children thy have to prove neglect or abuse which can take time.

care i agree is not working great at the moment so many foster parents are lied to and handed 'problem' children with little or no support, so they get stressed the child gets moved and before you know it the childs like a bad smell no one wants.

and people are shocked children in care have emotional problems.

on the plus side in the area i live in even though you do leave care at 16/18 you still have a social worker and a dedicated care leaver worker who is there for advice and support till 21 24 if in education so they are not left to drift at 16/18.

it all comes down to money and the fact people are not willing to invest in these children's futures. more funding now for ss, for training and fostering support. more parenting in education, rehab etc

means in the future less money on prisons, anti social behaviour, rehab, crime etc

unfortunately there is not enough money to go around everywhere.

Softlysoftly Fri 18-Jan-13 23:51:39

There was a case near us recently of a baby with methadone in its bottle to keep him quiet so not shocked just very very sad .

As has been said though the alternative is overstretched.

Bogeyface Sat 19-Jan-13 00:27:16

There was a case near us recently of a baby with methadone in its bottle to keep him quiet

And yet "addicts dont always make bad parents"

I make no apologies for saying that stories like that are why for me, where addiction is concerned, it is guilty until proven innocent.

Spero Sat 19-Jan-13 00:37:25

How do some examples of drug addicts killing their children allow you to conclude that ALL drug addicts can't parent?

Lots of non addicted parents kill and hurt their children every single day of the week. A child under two is at most risk of being killed by his/her parents. Not all of those parents are drug addicts, not by a long chalk.

Many things go into the toxic pot of bad parenting. Drug addiction is a big problem. But so too is low self esteem, hooking up with violent men, and general stupidity and laziness.

I worked for SS and have been involved in a few cases where addicts were parenting. A few points. SWs are not psychic. You have to rely on what you see, are told and assess. You have to put all the information together and hope to make the right decisions. It all looks so easy and obvious from the armchair. On the ground it is complicated and difficult.

When is use misuse? When is misuse addiction? When is one addicted parent worse than being in care?

There are not enough SWs, rehabs, good placements or supports. As long as we let SWs get overwhelmed and let the government sell off the NHS...

Bogeyface Sat 19-Jan-13 00:48:07

I didnt say they couldnt Spero. I said that anyone with any knowledge of addiction knows that the addiction comes before all else, so that the an addict must prove themselves a good parent in order to keep their child rather than proving they are a bad one before the child is removed.

Junebugjr Sat 19-Jan-13 01:05:30

I'm not sure what the solution is, but of the families I've worked with, those parents who have addictions seem to be the most unpredictable.
You can be working with a family, they're engaging, kids are doing well , the addiction seems to be in control and then Bam, they've had a relapse, and the shit hits the fan. I've had one woman, who was a lovely person and a good mother most of the time, seemed to be doing well. It took one slip with her alcohol addiction, and her youngest only 18 months, very nearly became one of these statistics. It's the unpredictability of it that's the most dangerous, as all it takes is 5 minutes of the parent being unconscious or less responsive and all sorts can happen with little ones.
Personally, I think enforced contraception is the way to go for addicts until they've been under control for a number of years. I deserve to get a flaming for that opinion I know, but when looking at the other options, I just think well what else can really be done, like spero says it costs an absolute bomb for specialist treatment, that LA's could not pay for. To fully address and put the resources into families like these would send David Cameron grey!!

MichelleRooJnr Sat 19-Jan-13 01:11:55

I do work in this area and there are many parents who are addicts/ex-addicts/in support who are very able to provide good care to their children.
bogeyface being an addict does not mean you put all else above your addiction - that is not the nature of addiction.
Not every heroin user will rob old ladies or steal from their families.
Addiction is demonstrated by the effect of usage on many areas of daily life.
So someone may not be able to maintain employment because of their usage - but that doesn't mean they will neglect their children.
Many many people use substances for many reasons - but often they can also meet the needs of children, pay their rent, attend appointments etc while struggling with their addiction.

I agree that addicts can be good parents.

Bear in mind that the press tends to demonise addicts and so we only tend to hear about those with a chaotic lifestyle, or horror stories such as this one.

We don't hear about the VAST numbers of "functioning addicts" (so many there is an actual term for people who are addicts yet still live so called "normal" lives.)

There are addicts in EVERY walk of life, from the homeless to high level professionals - some chaotic, some functioning in high powered, ridiculously well paid jobs.

Doctors as addicts is not as rare as you would think hope, my childhood GP was a lovely man who died young. Turns out he was a morphine addict and died from an overdose. What is morphine? It's heroin.

Recent studies have also shown that a significant number of people are addicted to prescribed opiates. People from all walks of life popping pills, but it's OK because they are prescribed. So is Methadone.

This is an incredibly tragic story - and it happened because the parent in question was living a chaotic lifestyle. That doesn't mean that ALL addicts are the same. I'd like to bet we have all known someone who is an addict and never had the slightest idea.

To simply say that addicts don't make good parents is neither true nor fair.

5hounds Sat 19-Jan-13 01:23:42

Bogeyfaces words about the care system and been thrust into the world as a teen at 16 are spot on. That person was me. Every word

Mosman Sat 19-Jan-13 01:28:58

Look at statistics, many of the outcomes make it appear as if children aren't that much better off in care.

And that's what people need to consider everytime they start wailing for SS to come along, I have seen foster homes where the children are treated worse than dogs, with a separate cupboard's of food with the fruit, veg, nice brands in that the FC can't have just as one example. The drug addict isn't perfect but you know most parents aren't.

Bogeyface Sat 19-Jan-13 01:47:37

5Hounds I wish I had been wrong. I hope that you are doing ok now x

5hounds Sat 19-Jan-13 01:53:51

I'm 25 now but still deeply scared by my past and still only have myself. Doctors try to help with antidepressants. If it wasn't for my dogs who I adore I wouldn't be here.

Mosman Sat 19-Jan-13 02:09:54

If over crowding is the only problem then one day you will be able to foster Bogeyface just make sure all the cupboards of food are available to all the children.
I probably will but not until my children have left home.

Bogeyface Sat 19-Jan-13 02:11:36

I am almost 40 and by the time that we have a room available for a foster child under the rules, I will be 55 (assuming they all bog off to uni!). I truly hope they would take me then smile

Mosman Sat 19-Jan-13 02:19:50

I would wait until all your kids are out of the house, from what I have seen you do not get rosy faced well behaved cherub's placed with you who just need a bit of love. The woman we know has had her house trashed from top to bottom, been burgled by the FC's friends, had knives held to her throat. You just do not want your children exposed to that I wouldn't have thought.

Bogeyface Sat 19-Jan-13 02:30:35

Thanks Mosman.

Sadly I know how awful it can be, but I would still like to try. I would prefer an older child than a baby, I feel that I could help them better.

Joiningthegang Sat 19-Jan-13 07:16:19

Yabu

Firstly, there are many morr parents misusig alcohol than illegal drugs - you want to take their children too - many more children damaged by alcohol use than drig use.

Secondly - when were the outcomes for children in care any good? What are you planning to do with these children?

Chubfuddler Sat 19-Jan-13 07:23:35

Basically it sounds as if these were neglectful parents one of whom also happened to be an addict.

Plenty of loving parents are addicts. There are enough alcoholics on MN to prove that. Most of them would gladly die for their children. Kicking an addiction can be harder than that though.

Chubfuddler Sat 19-Jan-13 07:24:47

And I don't think the care system is the panacea some think it. There was a report on the care system recently called something like "the state: the worst parent in the uk".

ErikNorseman Sat 19-Jan-13 08:16:51

You can't remove children from parents without strong evidence, and being drug addicted is not strong evidence. I'm sure, if you think about it, you will actually be very relieved and grateful that as a society we can't remove children from their parents based on a hunch or a prejudice...

The care system is imperfect but the damage is usually does by the child's early experiences, then compounded by lack of permanence in foster care. I have known children grow up with one set of lovely foster carers from age 2-18 and still end up psychologically destroyed.

Ifyoucantsayanythingnice Sat 19-Jan-13 08:29:51

Blinkin hate threads like this, people commenting on addiction based on what they have read in the DM or the Sun

I work with drug addiction and specifically substitute prescribing. These parents deserve to be sentenced for manslaughter, they made a ridiculous decision which resulted in the death of their child

However..... They are not indicative of all parents who have struggled with drug addiction, services like the one I work for and social care work their butts off to identify and worK with families where children are a risk, we do not plonk people on methadone and leave them with it, we provide sructured and consistent support to address addiction and provide the psychosocial interventions people need. Some parents with drug addictions can prioritise their children and do and work hard to change and make their lives better.

Children cannot be removed simply because parents have had/have drug addiction issues as this does not indicate children are at significant risk. Do you have any idea of what children suffer in the care system?

Children can be at risk in violent relationships and when there are parental mental health issues. Would you advocate that children are removed from ALL parents with depression/abusive relationship/bi-polar?

Do your research and stop with the knee jerk reaction 'to remove the children' because of the stigma attached to drug use to a system that isn't working.

thesnootyfox Sat 19-Jan-13 08:30:59

It's sad. Parents needs are put above the children's.

Adversecamber Sat 19-Jan-13 10:06:31

My sister was put in care from age 8. My sister is seriously mentally unwell, some of this is from being in a care home. I do understand the knee jerk reaction people have and why they think it is best to take dc in to care. It is not the answer and a vast number of dc would have to be put in care far more than the system could hold.

OhThePlacesYoullGo Sat 19-Jan-13 10:29:11

My parents were both addicts. I was abused in every sense of word. Nonetheless being in 'care', was really only marginally less horrid.

JohnBender88 Sat 19-Jan-13 12:00:59

My little girl spent her first week in neonatal. There was another little girl in the same room who spent 12 straight hours screaming in agony due to heroin withdrawal. Her mother came in for maybe an hour and then left again. From what I heard she got to take her home.

It makes me sick that there are so many couples who can give children a loving home and beautiful life but these addicts can pop them out like peas and are allowed to take their babies home due to it being their "human right".

Do the babies not have any human rights? The right to be brought up away from drugs, abuse and neglect?

Spero Sat 19-Jan-13 12:00:59

Horrible article in the times today about fathers who kill their children 'while there is no clear pattern, the central observation of experts is that the culprit tends to be middle aged and emotionally isolated'.

So on ops logic you would monitor all middle aged and emotionally isolated fathers as they have been shown more likely to murder their children after splitting up with the mother?

Life is complicated. You can't just isolate one factor or one group and say you lot aren't fit to be parents. That is potentially extremely unfair, to the parents and children.

Goldenbear Sat 19-Jan-13 12:56:04

YANBU, heroin addiction is not compatible with being a parent. There are whole heap of other problems that are often related to being addicted to that particular drug, you cannot have heroin in moderation- throw children in to that mix, it is a tragedy. DP had a circle of friends that all had what you would call privileged backgrounds, a man and woman from that group went from lighter drugs to heroin use- within a year she had dropped out of uni and was begging on the streets. He was equally desperate, they had to leave rented property as had no money. There lives fell apart. They also had parents shipping them off to rehab but they are still suffering 8 years on. I can't begin to imagine what things would've been like if you had a thrown a child into that mix!

I know of another case where the addicted mother was eventually murdered by the heroin addict boyfriend, luckily her three daughters had been taken into care after years of abuse prior to this. I know that their life improved considerably when fostered.

The fact is that this child at least would still be alive if he had been taken into care. Life in care or no life atall? My Dad was adopted as a baby and was very pleased about that as his mother tried to kill him by jumping a small height out of a hospital window when she was heavily pregnant as she didn't want him.

This is not a DM view - I just don't agree that our approach to children's welfare should be so defeatist. I read The Indepedent and The Economist so don't tar me with the same brush just because I happen to disagree with the attitudes that are ultimately letting children being victims rather than the priority!

Goldenbear Sat 19-Jan-13 13:06:56

Oh and I don't understand why people object to public outcry to these kind of news reports in the press. There should be outcry when a 2 year old boy dies in this way. Let's start objecting a bit more to children being treated like this and nothing being done about it rather than accepting 2nd best in opportunities for these children born to parents like this or death being better than going into care at 2 - I mean wtf is that about???

freddiefrog Sat 19-Jan-13 13:40:08

I'm a foster carer and my current placement is the child of an alcoholic and a heroin addict.

The only reason my FC was removed from their parents is because they were imprisoned.

IMO, my FC should have been removed from their parents' care years ago. It's not just the immediate concerns of neglect and abuse, but the effect on the child years down the line. Years of witnessing her parents' lifestyle, servicing their own addictions above the needs of their child has left my FC with a serious alcohol problem, a drug problem and completely wild and out of control. FC is completely messed up, and IMO, only a spell in a juvenile detention centre will get her clean and away from the people she calls 'friends' - drug addicts, sex offenders.

FC has been let down by the authorities all her life, social services just don't have the staff or cash to take every child like this into care. Mum and Dad were meeting her needs in so far as food and shelter, stuff like attending school and wearing appropriate clothing, but the emotional and mental damage has been devastating

Smudging Sat 19-Jan-13 13:57:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mrsjay Sat 19-Jan-13 14:01:00

poor Rileysad I
have relatives who had their kids when their parents were both junkies and 1 was born addicted, I dont know why they were allowed to live there, there was grandparents invovled in the care of them but they remained with parents the parents had good days and bad days the bad days the kids were dirty and not fed very much on good days they were spotless at school on time and well fed,

morethanpotatoprints Sat 19-Jan-13 14:09:18

This poor child.

What I find surprising is once again there seems to be this stereotypical assumption about parents who are drug addicts.
I read an article in Cosmo several years ago where professional couples were admitting to holding parties where huge amounts of drugs were consumed. These were rich people living in great big houses who got together most weekends oh and took their dc for sleep overs.
So yes all parents who do this are the dregs not just the poor ones living in social housing.

Goldenbear Sat 19-Jan-13 14:21:17

That's the point though isn't- the care system is not good enough so we just resign those children to a shitty life. Well personally I think that kind of apathy towards solving these problems is not acceptable. Throwing out there remarks about it being sad but where are all these children going to go is giving up on them. 'Sad' doesn't really cut it does it?

Heroin is highly addictive, rapidly consumes your whole life, you cannot be a social heroin addict like you can be a moderate drinker therefore you cannot be a parent that is going to be good enough in those circumstances.

Ifyoucantsayanythingnice Sat 19-Jan-13 14:55:02

I would be the first to say that if a child isn't being cared for, that their safety cannot be assured, that the parents cannot provide the love, stability and security that child needs then other carers need to be found.

There should be an outcry when a child dies because parents and agencies failed that child.

That does not mean that I agree that sweeping statements can be made about a group of people within society.

A mother with PND killed her two children. I didn't see anyone calling for all women with PND to have their children removed.

All individual cases should be taken on their merits. The majority of clients on my caseload have turned their lives around, are accessing treatment and have happy and well adjusted children. I have a few with child protection involvement and a few whose children have been permanently removed. To be honest their lives as children were so shite I wonder could they ever have parented regardless of their drug use as adults.

Ifyoucantsayanythingnice Sat 19-Jan-13 14:58:15

I also worked with a couple who had used heroin for 10 years with no treatment, had worked full time, had no criminal convistions, had a lovely home and a lovely son who they adored.

How utterly terrible for them and that child if he had been removed at birth because that just what we do

Ifyoucantsayanythingnice Sat 19-Jan-13 15:03:16

I also agree with Goldenbear that the care system needs to be better, adoptions need to be faster and we should never consider leaving children in a terrible situation because where they go would only be marginally better.

Jamillalliamilli Sat 19-Jan-13 15:24:10

When you send a child to an only marginally better situation, you’re often sending them to somewhere the abuse is different and better hidden, not marginally better, but adults can feel better at no longer having to see what the child is facing.

nokidshere Sat 19-Jan-13 16:36:37

Even marginally better is good though. I was a child from a violent alcoholic home, I spent from age 10-17 in the care system, and then went on to work for SS.

Whilst the care home was far from good, it did provide a roof over my head, food and clothing - all of which were non existant at home.

Working alongside SW as an adult I wanted to "rescue" every child. But it can't be done. There are strict rules and regulations and plenty of red tape which makes the cogs turn very slowly at times.

Now as a parent myself I absolutely believe there is a case for enforced contraception/steralisation for anyone who has abused or neglected a child or has children already in the care system.

andtheycalleditbunnylove Sat 19-Jan-13 17:18:30

i taught a girl who had twin sisters, one of whom had drunk their mum's methadone and died. the effect on the mother, the guilt and horror, was real enough, as was the effect on the rest of the family. none of the children were taken away. the bereavement had a more disruptive effect than the drug abuse.

an older girl from another family who was taken away had to live in a children's home where she had to fight (actually fight) to keep her few possessions and where taxi drivers waited parked round the corner from the home to take girls and boys to meet 'friends' who would give them money for sex.

There will be a Serious Case Review, which will state what went wrong.

This is happening in another case that occured last year, Jayden Lee Green.

These are not typical cases, it is thankfully very rare that a child born into addiction isn't placed on a CP plan and doesn't have daily visits from Family Support/HV and SW's.

The HV visits are daily if it is stated in the child's plan, children on "plans" do not come under the usual system of MW/HV care.

There isn't a gap in the provision, it is usually the breakdown of services why these incidents happen.

Whilst an addict can be on a Methadone programme, it would be rare (and shouldn't happen at all) that anyone using Heroin would have residency of a child.

An ex addict/addict will have a Safeguarding MW assigned to her care and she will visit upto 28 days after birth, then as well as SW's, a range of family Support will be involved.

It looks at face value that this family slipped through the net.

FarrahFawcettsFlick Sat 19-Jan-13 17:49:26

BirdsGottaFly

How cas SS determin if a methadone user is also using/replacing meth with heroin?

Does the parent consent to drug testing? Does meth mark as different to heroin on blood/hair tests?

Q: why do (some) meth users replace/parallel use heroin? Is it to top up their controlled meth dose or does heroin provide a 'better' high. Is it better to use heroin and come off it rather than meth? If so, could the NHS provide heroin or would this be a political no-no.

SS orders drugs tests as a standard,if the parents refuse, then it is presumed that they are still using and the baby will usually (or is in my LA), removed at birth.

The parents are put into various projects to address their issues.

The drug tests can tell the difference between Heroin and Methodone.

In this case fromother report that i have read, NHS staff were reluctant to report this couple to SS, the police attended the house 11 days before the child's death.

Police and the health service still think that the Child Protection system is to harsh and puts unnessecary pressure onto parents, so don't follow guidelines about reporting.

As the mother is the patient, her needs are often seen as being above the baby's.

Heroin gives a different high than Methodone and Methodine doesn't completely take away the withdrawal sysptoms.

From what i have been told by ex users is that they haven't changed who they mix with and are tempted to still use.

The hardest part is fitting backinto society.

I know of a few ex users who try to join in college courses and groups but are shuned, because of their past.

In a drug user/street worker group there is a sense of belonging and acceptance that they don't/cannot get anwhere else.

The isolation quadruples if they have had children removed. Society is quick to condem drug use but when a user stops, the judgement/condemnation doesn't.

Goldenbear Sat 19-Jan-13 18:40:06

andtheycalledthebunnylove, arguably a small person lost their life and chance to grow up to adulthood as a result of a totally avoidable occurrance. The Mum felt dreadful - that's ok then? I don't see how that is an argument to not take very young children in to care in that situation. Heroin and very young children (especially) don't mix- the desire for the drug is a lot greater than the desire to protect your children. That's what a highly ADDICTIVE drug does to you- it makes you an addict!

McNewPants2013 Sat 19-Jan-13 18:41:04

A close member if family will always be in the methdrone program until her son reaches a certain age, she is now clean and isn't on any drugs now and turned her life around.

The police can demand a drugs test at anytime and 1 positive test her son will be removed from her.

Ifyoucantsayanythingnice Sat 19-Jan-13 21:06:25

Police and the health service still think that the Child Protection system is to harsh and puts unnessecary pressure onto parents, so don't follow guidelines about reporting.

Not where I work, please do not generalise. I take safeguarding very seriously and the child is always the priority and paramount regardless of the fact that the parent is my client.
The police in my area are on the whole very well trained in safeguarding and child protection and regularly refer where parents have been arrested/under the influence etc.

If anything it is getting harder and harder to meet the thresholds for social care to assess

Ifyoucantsayanythingnice Sat 19-Jan-13 21:16:12

Methadone and buprenorphine do completely take away withdrawal symptoms when prescribed appropriately and at the right doses. It is taken in the pharmacy, daily, supervised by the pharmacist until the client shows suitable stability i.e negative drug tests, lack of intoxication, regular attendance at appointments.
Our service provide lockable boxes for any take home doses.

I liaise with health visitors, school nurses, the police, social care etc and perform regualr home visits to keep children as safe as possible.

It is a tragedy when a child dies or is harmed and if it is a preventable tragedy the parents and the people that didn't do their jobs properly need to be subject to the full weight of the law.

Please don't tar us all with the same brush though.

Some professionals are dedicated to making lives better and 'addicts' can change.

determinedma Sat 19-Jan-13 21:21:24

Haven't read all of this, but the reaction that a child of addicts should be taken into care is naive. Many addicts function well, many " normal" parents are secret drinkers/dope smokers/abusers.
Dh works in a residential unit for children in care. It is an unreal lifestyle for the children, and hideously expensive to maintain. It cost thousands of pounds per WEEK to keep a child in care. Who is going to fund it?

andtheycalleditbunnylove Sat 19-Jan-13 21:41:29

andtheycalledthebunnylove, arguably a small person lost their life and chance to grow up to adulthood as a result of a totally avoidable occurrance. The Mum felt dreadful - that's ok then?
what rubbish. of course it isn't ok. but if your child drank your medicine and died, would you expect to feel fine about that? and would you expect to lose your other children, into care, if there was an accident at home?
as for the care system, the people working in it are probably working their backsides off, but it still does not work for children.

Goldenbear Sat 19-Jan-13 22:08:12

Sorry but I think you must be naive if you think smoking weed is the same as taking heroin. The kind of individual that would try heroin must be fairly reckless as everyone knows that you are taking a huge gamble in doing so. That kind of personality trait matched with the highly addictive nature of the drug itself, the all consuming nature of the drug, doing anything to get the money to feed a habit that often starts the first day after you've taken it is not a situation a child should be allowed to stay in- it is too much of a gamble. I'm not talking about people that are no longer sick from this addiction but I don't agree that you can be a functioning heroin addict WITH children, without children is a different discussion.

Like I said up thread I was friends with an array of people 8 years ago that dabbled in different things, unfortunately 2 took heroin and were addicted straight away- their demise began that week it all fell apart for them so quickly. They were boyfriend and girlfriend and ultimately this made things worse. They had parents who paid for private rehab but it didn't work the 1st 2nd or 3rd time. I am far from naive when it comes to the area of drugs so please don't patronise me.

In terms of funding you need an alternative to a child being at risk, it is not acceptable as a civilised society to shrug and say, 'who's going to fund it'.

determinedma Sat 19-Jan-13 22:20:29

goldenI don't think I did say that smoking dope was the same as a heroin addiction. And I have no intention to be patronising but it is idealistic to think all children of heroin addicts can be scooped up and taken into a nice cosy care home where all will be well. Most care homes have waiting lists and many of the children in there have huge problems which manifest themselves in violence against the care workers and other children. And while I'm hate to seem materialistic, it really does cost several thousand pounds a WEEK to keep a child in residential care. I'd be interested to hear where you think this will come from? From your taxes?

Goldenbear Sat 19-Jan-13 22:20:56

andtheycalleditbunnylove, so it isn't ok or it is ok, sorry you're not very clear on that one?

determinedma Sat 19-Jan-13 22:24:02

Which one?

determinedma Sat 19-Jan-13 22:24:38

Sorry, wrong post

Goldenbear Sat 19-Jan-13 22:38:13

You suggested normal people drank and smoked dope in the same sentence as addicts functioning well, that suggests they are akin to each other and they are not. I don't think an alcoholic is a 'normal parent' or anyone who smokes lots of skunk is going to be anything other than neglectful as their life is motivated by an addiction. DP's Dad was a 'functioning' alcoholic. He worked in a profession which wasn't affected at first but the addiction is more drawn out. His every thought was concerned with where he could get a drink and it was too the detriment of his children's safety. DP said once he drove them for 3 hrs back to their Mum's home and he was totally pissed. 9 year old DP was telling him to look out for things on this journey or they would've crashed! He was an addict and the alcohol came first. That is not normal parenting IMO.

I think an overhaul of the entire system is needed if it is considered idealism to take children away from incredibly dangerous situations.

Spero Sat 19-Jan-13 23:40:39

Those of you who want to take children away from all drug addicts, regardless of how they are functioning, how they are trying to deal with their addiction, how much support they are getting from family/professionals...

seriously, where are you going to put these children? How many care homes are you going to build? with what money? How many foster parents are you going to recruit? From where?

its no good fulminating. There really is no where for most of these children to go. Even children removed from situations of dire emergency and immediate risk of really significant harm can get bounced from one placement to another.

SashaSashays Sat 19-Jan-13 23:55:36

It is so naive to say just remove all the children.

Firstly none of us are perfect parents and if children started being removed based on there being a potential for harm hardly anyone would be with their children. It would include those suffering mental illness, those in financial problems, the obese, smokers etc etc etc I think some posters don't have a full understanding of quite how many children do suffer levels of neglect and abuse.

Secondly I understand the concept of worrying about the cost being not good enough, but the money does make a difference, its not something you can ignore. The NHS could be state of the art and amazing, drug education and prospects so people felt less driven to drugs would be perfect, so many of our services which contribute to children being in these situations are dependent on funds. The difference with care is that as well of funds it needs very specific people. Even if you could offer much higher wages or financial incentives for working in SS finding the right staff who can handle and work in such a challenging situation isn't that simple. Then you've got the foster parents, where are they all coming from. Despite all the vetting and checks you've still got a good few shit ones.

As an individual, if you feel strongly about 'our children' try and make a difference or try and make changes.

I think that the Serious Case review will show that the child should have been removed and that he was let down by services.

Every child living with addicts who is subject to the neglect/lack of care that this child was, should be removed and funding etc doesn't come into it, in this case.

As in the baby P case, i think that there will be all departments that are found wanting, it won't be just SS that fault is found in, but in the health service and police, also.

Smudging Sun 20-Jan-13 09:18:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

determinedma Sun 20-Jan-13 09:24:24

WhatSasha and Spiro said!
The system does need an overhaul and until we are equipped to remove the children from poor parents - all of them?- then stamping your feet and saying they should all be in care is pointless

Spero Sun 20-Jan-13 09:47:40

there are things you can do as an indvidual. You can consider training as a foster carer or volunteer as a mentor to a vulnerable child. You can get involved with your school, after school clubs etc, etc - anything really to provide a life line to a child who may be suffering at home, but just not suffering 'enough' to provoke immediate State intervention.

But a wholesale revamp and restructuring of the system I am afraid will never, ever happen. It would require massive public investment, which will never, ever happen because 99.9% of people will not even contemplate higher taxes to fund it and thus no politician will push it.

As a family law practitioner we are currently undergoing a 'modernisation' of our system and urged to be more efficient. All of this is going to be achieved on zero extra money. rather, money is being removed from the system and it will shortly be flooded with self represented litigants when funding is removed from private law cases. social workers are repeatedly demonised in wider media and told they were wrong to intervene and remove children.

I am sorry, but I think we have ended up with a child protection system that clearly reflects our priorities as a society. And vulnerable children don't make the list of what we really care about and what we will spend time and money on.

annoyednow Sun 20-Jan-13 09:48:54

Is there any level of support that can keep a unit with heroin addicts functioning? I'm thinking of Eva Rausing and her husband. Their wealth couldn't keep their unit functioning. They were lucky to have good supportive extended family to take the children. Unfortunately this safety net just doesn't exist for lots of people. It's not simply wealth, it's the human capital that some people are lucky enough to have.

Spero Sun 20-Jan-13 09:58:41

good point. i do think that some people are just very damaged and cant be helped. but the problem is, you cant necessarily tell at the outset that someone should be written off. if you just remove children from anyone who is an addict, you risk doing terrible emotional harm to that child. its about trying to find the balance ofharm. it is really difficult and wrong decisions are made. but i think the alternative - blanket removal - is worse.

determinedma Sun 20-Jan-13 12:56:43

spero makes a good point about the emotional damage caused to a child when he/she is removed from their parents, however bad the parents are. They are the devil they know, and the thought of going into care is terrifying for these children. And, despite the best intentions of some wonderful care workers, DH being one of them, a life in care is hard. Generally the care homes are small because of the complex needs of the children and there has to be a high ratio of staff - low paid staff who are willing to be assaulted, spat on, bitten etc on a regular basis. Sometimes, because of lack of places a young child will be place in the nearest available care home, often with older teens showing terrifying levels of violence towards staff and other youngsters. It can be a lonely and frightening place and no matter how hard to try to explain to a youngster that this was the better option, they wont thank you for it. Not initially anyway! The careworkers then become the focus of the child's anger because "you took me away from my mum" and there is a mountain of work to be done to help rebuild that child's trust.
DH currently has an 8 year old who asks him regularly to be his daddy and take him home. DH explains that he cant but T replies "yeah, you just dont want me either. You should have left me with my mum, she loved me!"
She may well have done, but mental health issues and addiction made it unsafe for him to remain with her any longer and now she doesnt want him back ever. T doesnt know this yet. he will probably be in care for the next 8 years and then turned out into the world to do what? Go where? Institutionalised and alone. So, i think my point is, going into care may have saved his life, but believe me it isn't a comfortable rosy option.

Kungfutea Sun 20-Jan-13 16:18:46

I think part of the problem is lack of prirotization within children's services as to which cases they are going to take on, which ones they should start care proceedings for.

For example, Coventry social services were roundly criticized by a judge for wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal costs chasing a family with very flimsy reasons. I'm sure that at the same time in Coventry there were many children in dire need of quality social work whose needs could have been met if those funds had been properly allocated and someone had advised Coventry that they needed to prioritize their resources.

I have a good friend, ironically herself an experienced barrister who specializes in family public law, who has been forced to leave the country due to children's services. In the country she moved to, it was found that her dd needed therapeutic psychiatric care and is currently in a children's psychiatric hospital and that absolutely the worst thing for this child would have been to have removed her from her mother - yet this was exactly what children's services in the uk wanted to do. The social workers where she is, even after seeing all the material which was sent from the UK, cant believe that social workers in uk were applying to take her dd into care (and they got the order as well in her absence).

My friend was terrified at the idea of her vulnerable child going into foster care with god knows who, she was terrified her dd would commit suicide as she had spoke of it before. Childrens services have wasted thousands in legal costs in her case, doing more harm than good and meaning that chikdren who truly needed their support were going without. If she'd have gone into care, she'd have taken a 'spot' in a foster home from another child or gone to a ridiculously expensive care home when what this child needed was therapeutic psychiatric care.

Hopefully, the social services won't pursue her abroad, other than contacting social services in the country she's in which they have done and which is completely fine of course, but they may petition the courts abroad for the return of the children. That would be a disgraceful use of public funds and she may go to the papers at that point (who have said they are very interested but she hasn't until now to respect her dd's privacy).

There needs to be more accountability in the system rather than just pleading 'damned if you do, damned if you dont'. It's not that simple and when you have courts which look at a balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonab,e doubt, the margin of error becomes much much greater.

Spero Sun 20-Jan-13 16:28:38

I agree with your points about wrong prioritisation and I have seen examples of it. But I make the same point over and over again - any system run by humans is going to fall foul of human problems - personality clashes between parents and social workers for example, so the SW sees everything the parent does with a very prejudiced eye.

Given that SW are drowning under every increasing case loads then the potential to make mistakes or misjudge a situation increases too. I think the real solution for vulnerable children and families is to have more and better help focused at an early stage.

By the time it gets to court it is probably too late for effective interventions and I don't think the problem is the standard of proof. Making everything 'beyond reasonable doubt' is going to add a whole new layer of problems. I know it is what people like Ian Joseph call for but how do they implement this? They think judges are biased and stooges so are they calling for juries in child protection cases?

All well and good but it is going to add enormously to the time and the costs of these proceedings. I would rather money is spent at the earliest stages before a family has been mired in chaos and dysfunction for many years. It is then incredibly difficult to turn it around.

Kungfutea Sun 20-Jan-13 16:37:03

I agree that you can't do beyond reasonable doubt in family court. But if you're going by a balance of probability, the statistically you're simply more likely to be wrong!

My barrister friend said that in many cases she dealt with, things could have been prevented from escalating with more intensive support for parents at an earlier stage.

Btw, I posted about my friend under another nn in legal. I didn't want to give away too many details then as she hadn't yet left but the reason I said she knew what she was talking about legally is because she is an experienced family law barrister who used to practice at a 'magic circle' inns.

She said magistrates nearly always go with social services and that they aren't even legally trained, I was shocked by that! I hadn't realized they aren't lawyers themselves!!

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 16:40:18

My friends dad was a m gistrate, he qualifications? Ex Bank manager.

They are almost always lay people who are given the job becuase they in good standing hmm

I do see that it isnt practical to take all children of addicts, but I stand by what I said that heroin addiction (any addiction tbh) isnt compatible with parenting as the addiction will, by its very nature, always be the priority. How to solve the problem? I dont know, but it is wrong.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 16:42:26

Gambling addiction led to the wife and children of an ex friend of Dh's becoming homeless. He went to prison for theft from his employers and she was evicted from their home as he hadnt paid the mortgage as he was spending all of his money and all of her contribution on his addiction.

He is now doing voluntary work at a charity shop and she is working 3 jobs to keep a roof over her childrens heads in the roughest area in our town sad

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 16:43:02

Sorry for typos, on my tab and I still cant work out the delete bit! It cuts and pastes instead!

Kungfutea Sun 20-Jan-13 16:47:09

I never knew that about magistrates. It's really scary. I don't think juries are the way to go but I wouldn't want my children's future to be decided by someone whose qualification is ex-bank manager. They should be legally trained judges at the very least.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 17:03:18

https://www.gov.uk/become-magistrate/what-magistrates-do

So basically, it is the very people gossiping about you that make the decisions!

Spero Sun 20-Jan-13 18:31:48

90% pf criminal cases are dealt with by lay magistrates. Again, its the money. Get rid of magistrates and pay judges to deal with all cases? you will need a lot of money.

All magistrates are assisted in court by a legally qualified clerk who advises them on the law. They have pretty extensive training. I don't think it is ideal but you are not being judged by people with no knowledge or experience.

Again, I don't agree that they 'always' go with the LA. But I do try to get cases moved up to the county court because I think generally care cases are too complicated for the mags. Sometimes they have problems organising a hearing for more than 3 days and a lot of the more difficult cases require 5 or more.

Are you sure your friend was a barrister? There is no such thing as a 'magic circle' Inn - there are four Inns of court and it is utterly irrelevant to your practice which Inn you are at. You just have to join one to qualify. What is important is your Chambers.

Kungfutea Sun 20-Jan-13 19:25:55

Yes, I'm sure she was a barrister. What kind of question is that? I probably have the terminology wrong because I googled magic circle once to see what it meant with regard to a solicitor who had said it and saw that her chambers (which is what I meant) is considered 'magic circle'. It's not something she ever said to me.

And, yes, she specialized in family law, especially public. And she got to the point where she wouldn't act for the la anymore, only the parents, who she felt got a raw deal. Ironic then that the la would then start proceedings against her!

Spero Sun 20-Jan-13 19:45:24

I asked the question, because no barrister would say that and I thought it was weird. Fair enough, she didn't say that.

I am surprised that proceedings were started against her, particularly as she knows the system. But obviously you can't go into detail.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 19:58:55

I am surprised that proceedings were started against her

Makes you wonder if they were pre-disposed to go against her as she was acting for parents against the LA. As we know, once they get the bit between their teeth, they wont let go. They never let the truth stand in the way of a good child abduction.

Spero Sun 20-Jan-13 20:37:24

sorry op but that is just crap.

I don't understand why you can on the one hand be angry that children aren't being removed, then trot out this nonsense that the child protection system is all about abduction.

make up your mind.

hermioneweasley Sun 20-Jan-13 20:43:15

There are lots of people who want to adopt babies. If these babies were removed at birth due to the very high correlation between being an addict and unsatisfactory parenting, then they would all be placed in safe loving homes. In a small number of cases the parents might have been fine, but this madness of keeping kids with addict parents on the off chance they are ok baffles me.

Spero Sun 20-Jan-13 20:45:45

it may baffle you Hermoine, but it doesn't baffle the European Court which is way if we whipped all babies off at birth, the UK would find itself hauled up time and time again for gross infringement of the Article 8 rights of all concerned, and I definitely include the children in that.

yes, lots of people want to adopt babies. nice, middle class, no familiy history of substance abuse, mental illness type babies. people may not be so eager to queue up for these babies as you think.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 20:59:08

Spero the irony didnt escape me, I worded it wrongly.

It seems that there are too many cases of innocent parents being hounded at the same time as children like Riley are being left in unsafe and neglectful situations. How is that crap? Its a fact!

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 21:03:47

people may not be so eager to queue up for these babies as you think.

A hell of a lot more than want to adopt a screwed up 8 year old because his removal was left too late....

Spero Sun 20-Jan-13 21:05:47

yes it is a fact that mistakes are made, often very serious ones.

But just as you don't assume that all GPs are out to murder you after Dr Shipman, nor can you make some throw away comment that all LA's just get the 'bit between their teeth' and just love a bit of abduction.

Part of the reason the system is in such a mess and so many defensive wrong decisions are made is due to the constant barrage of ill informed hysteria about the 'evil' system. Social workers are under immense pressure and over worked. Believe me, they are not looking for children to abduct. They are fire fighting on every level, reacting to emergencies instead of being able to intervene and plan sensibly for children.

Spero Sun 20-Jan-13 21:07:46

op, you may want to live in a society where people's babies are removed at birth because they are a member of a particular group.

I don't. I think that would be a horrible kind of society.

Bogeyface Sun 20-Jan-13 21:16:01

A member of a particular group implies racial or cultural or religious.

Drug addicts are damaging to themselves, to their children and to society. They break the law simply by being possession of the drugs that they are addicted to, many break the law to fund their habits, many deal to fund their habits thus spreading misery further.

I simply do not buy the theory that a child should not be removed from a neglectful (at best) addict parent on the basis that the parent might be ok one day. One day will be too late, the damage is done. I would be interested to see how many of these so called "functioning addicts" there are compared to those who have lost their children either officially or because granny stepped in, or because the addict died.

There simply is not the justification for keeping a child in such circumstances, especially as the only person who suffers is the child, the one person in the whole sorry mess who cant speak for themselves and has no true understanding of what they are suffering. And in time, the cycle repeats because drug use, abuse, neglect, violence and crime are the only thing the child knows. It knows nothing of unselfish love, of kindness or living without fear.

Kungfutea Mon 21-Jan-13 03:54:01

Sorry spero, but I'm afraid that is not true of all social workers. I'm sure there are some excellent ones and I'm also sure that child protection is extremely challenging. But some of them are also wasting their time and precious resources chasing cases which are marginal at best with, seemingly, little accountability for which cases they decide to go ahead with. Look at the coventry case, how many resources were squandered there? Very much an example of 'bit between the teeth' although you're quite right that we shouldnt generalize to all las on the basis of one example (although i suspect there are many more).

And then the system is set up so that you have a layperson, who in criminal cases with a much stricter burden of proof can only give 6 months prison (is that right?) but who can make the decision to make a care order removing a child from his or her family until they are 18 with a much more lax burden of proof - and who rarely goes against what the local authority are proposing. In my opinion, removing a child from his or her family, while not punitive, has far more impact on a family than 6 months imprisonment.

I would never have believed how the system can operate and the power of las until I saw what my friend went through. One social worker wrote that she is manipulative and that is why she is so successful as a barrister, I mean, how inappropriate! When my friend complained, it was dealt with internally and she was told her complaint wasn't justified. And it's quite terrifying what may have happened if my friend would have stayed in the uk. Yet a magistrate quite happily granted an interim care order.

I'm sorry, the system in the uk is not a good system. What happened to my friend shouldnt have happened. I don't think our record on child protection is stellar or even better than in other countries, but we seem to be far quicker to take chikdren away than they are in other countries.

AlienReflux Mon 21-Jan-13 04:37:12

Functioning addicts exist. as do countless Functioning alcoholics, should we take their babies at birth too?

sleepywombat Mon 21-Jan-13 05:00:58

My parents were addicts. My dad a lot worse than my mum at keeping clean (he finally died of hep c when I was 20) & he did steal from me several times, but he was still an intelligent, funny man, when not under the influence, who loved me so much. My mum did her very best for me. Both my parents had harsh upbringings, suffered bereavement in childhood & huge periods of depression pre-drugs, so I can completely understand why experimenting as teens turned into addiction.

I've had some emotional & mental issues in my life, but lots of people do. I've done well academically & in life in general.

If I'd been taken into care, I think a) it would've pushed both my parents over the edge, b) I would be a hell of a lot less balanced than I am.

DizzyZebra Mon 21-Jan-13 05:14:10

The taking children at birth thing is difficultbecause there are what you call 'functioning adicts' even with drugs as strong as heroin.

I know two. I've seen them go without because they do ensure their kids have their needs taken care of first.

I've never seen them endanger their children.

I do think in cases of such a strong addiction, more involvement from social care is needed, perhaps compulsory healthvisitor input too.

From that article, I am amazed the boy survived as long as he did.

DizzyZebra Mon 21-Jan-13 05:34:04

I also believe addiction is similar to pain regarding how people handle it. I can handle pain if I know exactly why its happening and that it will stop soon, its a focal point. . I believe that the functioning addicts that I know are similar when they withdraw - they know why it is happening, and they know it will stop soon - they just have to get through those few hours.

I was incredibly I'll once and I was prescribed some incredibly strong opiate based painkillers.

No one told me you have to have a break to prevent addiction, and I wasn't able to readthe instructions myself. When I stopped taling them I withdrew. It was horrific. Id have clawed my own eyes out if it meant it would stop. I sat awake for daysand nights, sweating, screaming, everytime someone spoke it was like they were screaming down my ear.

I didn't understand why. I think if I had more id have carried on taking them. I just wanted it to stop.

I get lile that with codine too, if I have to take it, but now I understand its easier to manage if I experience withdrawel upon stopping them.

I think that's the same reason functioning addicts can manage. From what I've seen anyway.

Mosman Mon 21-Jan-13 07:44:06

Compulsory HV really ? Mine told me that my 2 day old daughter was a demanding little bugger because she wasn't going 4 days without a BF and swung her around like a rag doll to weigh her, almost by the feet. Then there was the one who told my husband I would obviously get PND with DC4 because I hadn't had it with the other three so it was my turn. Their area of expertise should be breast feeding, child development, maternal health etc and they can't often even get that factually correct.
I can't think of anyone I'd trust less tbh.

Mosman Mon 21-Jan-13 07:44:28

4 days - 4 hours - bloody ipad

Spero Mon 21-Jan-13 07:58:39

I agree Kungfutea that the system isn't a good one but where I suspect we disagree is the reasons behind this. I see the reasons primarily in no particular order or importancr due to lack of available judges, hence lack of court time to deal sensibly and proportionately with cases, lack of experienced social workers who are leaving the profession due to unrealistic work loads and constant pressure and denigration, the increase in social problems due to more vulnerable families, they are more vulnerable because services that once existed to prop them up are cut or done away with altogether....

what I don't accept is that the system is inherently and deliberately corrupt, designed to abduct babies and that weak cases are routinely pursued.

yes, mistakes are made. I don't want to comment on your friend, I don't know what is going on there, she coud have been the victim of a hideous miscarriage of justice - in which case I think she has a duty to go to the papers to try to shine a light on what is happening. But unless she has shared with you every document in this case and you have been with her to every meeting and every court hearing, you just can't know the full story, you know what you have been told. And there may be more to it than you know.

I don't think care proceedings are taken lightly, and in 90% of my cases I am more concerned by way the LA waiited so long before doing something.

Mags can only sentence for six months in criminal cases, but if they think what you did was serious, they can transfer your case up to the Crown court for a longer sentence - I think! haven't done criminal law for ages.

I also agree with you that taking a child is probably worse than a sentence of imprisonment - you will come out of prison, but you wont get your child's childhood back. But you also must remember that most care cases take over a YEAR to resolve - this is one of the massive problems in the system. So parents get every chance to show they can turn it around or deal with LA criticisms of their parenting.

wordfactory Mon 21-Jan-13 08:58:29

The sad fact is that there is nowhere to put children who are removed from their parents.

The lack of foster placements is so acute that many local authorities have to seek placements hundreds of miles away.

Children's homes are full to bursting.

Children in care have the worst outcomes of all children in the UK.

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