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CBT referral to Child Protection Services

(18 Posts)
Oldsadman Wed 29-Nov-17 00:38:32

Hi Mums, I did a light three finger smack on the thigh of our 20m old during a stressful nappie change. Felt it was appropriate at the time because he was doing buckaroo kicks; crocodile rolls and grabbing anything in sight whilst covering me in poo and all other tried and tested methods of discipline had failed. It worked but I wasn't happy with myself afterwards and had a massive argument about smacking with my wife who was in the room at the time. Just happened to have my first CBT counselling session that afternoon so I used it as an example of the stress; low self esteem and self loathing that I've been experiencing in recent months (I felt really bad about what had happened). The therapist didn't ask any questions. Next thing I know, I've been referred to child protection services (section 17). They didn't tell me that's what they were going to do. Even the social worker didn't make it clear that it was about my son when she called (though in fairness, it was reasonable for her to assume that I had been informed by the therapist). Since seen them, and read a lot of online research on spanking that has genuinely made me question whether there is ever any appropriate situation for spanking, but from a mental health perspective I now feel lower than ever before. I realise now that I might just have stayed within the law (there was no mark left), but feel I have totally failed as a dad. Even when I rationalise it and say it was a soft one off and we all learn. I've read posts on this site from people that would have me locked away. Its at a point where I can't actually talk to anyone about it - not family; not friends and seemingly not even a shrink. If i'm really lucky, it might get brushed under the carpet and kept as a dirty household secret. I don't feel the referral was necessary or fair. In fact, I feel it was an abuse of privacy and an assumption that people struggling with mental health are a greater risk to children. My job relies on me having a clean DBS check and I'm not even sure I'll have that any more - even if CPS take no further action. Was the counsellor hasty with her referral and should I complain - or would this just raise more scrutiny and doubt in my ability to bring up my children without abusing them?

Ttbb Wed 29-Nov-17 00:47:34

While I'm surprised that you were referred over a smack the fact that you did it in anger as opposed to being one of those people who thinks that it's a legitimate form of discipline would probably raise red flags. I would imagine that it is best to chalk this up to experience and never do it again and never mention it again. Best to put it behind you.

AfunaMbatata Wed 29-Nov-17 21:10:20

Well if it was as soft as you claim then it wouldn’t have had any effect on your child’s behaviour would it?

Don’t complain, instead use your energy to help you get well- further therapy, parenting classes, medication etc.

Wish you the best , don’t give up .

BatteredBreadedOrSouthernFried Wed 29-Nov-17 21:17:02

Are you in the US? I know they call it child protective services there. But you mention a DBS. In the UK it is social services who investigate child protection issues. Im not sure how it affects your job prospects in the US but in the UK it wouldn’t show on a DBS unless you are arrested and I think charged with something.

BatteredBreadedOrSouthernFried Wed 29-Nov-17 21:18:58

I don't feel the referral was necessary or fair. In fact, I feel it was an abuse of privacy and an assumption that people struggling with mental health are a greater risk to children.

No it was absolutely necessary. You disclosed a physical assault on a child. Your therapist has a legal obligation to report that to social services. Children take priority over your privacy in such circumstances. You really must understand that?

LivininaBox Wed 29-Nov-17 21:25:55

The therapist was putting the welfare of a baby above the welfare of you, an adult.

You can't "discipline" a 20 month old. The nappy changing situation you describe is totally normal toddler behaviour and you need to develop coping strategies such as distraction or moving stuff out the way. Sorry to be harsh but the fact you are defending yourself is a bit worrying.

Oldsadman Thu 30-Nov-17 13:49:03

Thanks for commenting. I did it because I felt I had run out of options (had tried distraction with toys and props and offered incentives such as his dummy etc). He's strong and was as likely to hurt himself as much as he was me. Not being in control of a situation does not equate to being angry. There's also confusion here about the difference between someone explaining what happened and someone trying to justify their actions (which I'm not). Specifically, I am someone who was overwhelmed with guilt and who was struggling to get a measure on the actual extent of my failing due to the skewered way in which clinical depression can make us think and feel. Irrespective of that clarity (which I'm now thankfully getting), I know I will not be the only loving parent out there who has been shocked, saddened and alienated by the sudden realisation that they haven't acted in their child's best interests. Consequently perceived to have carried out a 'physical assault' on who they love and care for most. The world is a changing place and I know you have to change with it, but I had no idea that smacking a child was viewed so dimly by such a large proportion of society. Nor did have any idea that it had been made illegal throughout Europe and parts of the UK. We can learn through education, but not by persecution. I would dispute any suggestion that I have physically assaulted my child but I understand that by definition, that's what many people and organisations would say I have done. That is depressing to the point that I believe it would tip a lot of clinically depressed people into a state of suicide (I'm fine). As a side matter for LivininaBox, most advice I have read, suggests that you can start disciplining a child between 12-24 month. He has understood what time out meant from about 16m. When I think of the horrific cases like Baby P or even the socially accepted violence that my own generation was exposed to when we were growing up, I realise that all these changes are for the best interest of children, and I support the progress that's been made to address it. My concern is that a well intending but ill informed parent like myself could end up with a 'game over' outcome such as a criminal conviction or suicide for the sake of preventing a loved child from experiencing ten or fifteen seconds of a stinging sensation. If I've got that wrong, then fine - apologies for wasting everyone's time.
My original post was to see if anyone thought the counsellor's referral was a fair one. I have since learned from social services that it wasn't so I will go by their advice and complain. Will I smack my children ever again - no because I now realise the law makes any debate for acceptable circumstances pointless. I just hope that other parents who have failed to keep up with modern parenting methods and the laws on discipline find more reassurance than i have. Maybe from this thread, because to undergo the transition of understanding and beliefs under such persecuting, invasive and threatening circumstances has been alienating and put unnecessary stress on myself and the well-being of my family. In my opinion, there is a desperate need for broadcast information; and an additional support layer between social services and other public services.

Woollycardi Thu 30-Nov-17 13:59:31

OP, I am currently having therapy and have depression. I also have youngish children and feel I need to write this down. Part of my depression has been a crippling fear that I am not a fit parent, that I am failing them, that they could do better with someone else, I have had periods of doubting every tiny decision I make with them. Part of my therapy has been to be able to voice this in a room with someone who is absolutely non-judgemental. I don't want to judge your situation, or your therapist, so I don't know who is 'right' here, but I agree with you, we are raising our children in strange times where our roles as parents can feel like they are constantly under scrutiny. I don't know if that is my depression talking or if that is just a truth about our society, but something feels out of balance. I don't want to comment on what happened with your baby, but I wish you all the best with treating your depression. I know that the action of your therapist must have thrown the trust in your relationship with them out of the window. Good luck.

Dinosauratemydaffodils Thu 30-Nov-17 14:03:16

I was under the impression they were meant to tell you before putting in a referral. I'm currently undergoing psychotherapy for PTSD amongst other things and when I met the clinical Psychologist for the first time he outlined examples of things that he would have to tell someone else, i.e. if I was a danger to myself/others but that he would always tell me that he'd done it/was doing it preferably at the point of me disclosing.

I would find it very hard to continue therapy with someone I no longer felt I could trust and would be asking to be referred to someone else.

For nappy changes of that type, how steady on his feet is your son? That's about the age we had to move to pullup type pants and mostly standing changes even for poo covered nappies because it was like wrestling a rhino into a pair of Barbie's trousers. Standing him up for all but the most horrendous nappies made a huge difference to changes.

AfunaMbatata Thu 30-Nov-17 14:07:01

Im not a believer that such a young child can be naughty, they display behaviours for reasons, they have no control over their behaviour really. They need you as a parent to try and figure out those reasons and respond. Physical punishment is never ever appropriate.
Just stop trying to justify what happened, instead truly accept it was wrong and do your best to never get to that place again. Like I said before- parenting classes, therapy, books etc.

BatteredBreadedOrSouthernFried Thu 30-Nov-17 14:14:22

Oh wow! Imagine trying to have an argument with this bloke. It would never be worth it.

Anyway, you smacked a baby, you disclosed it to a professional who has a legal duty to report it. So they did. If you had admitted to smacking your wife because you didn’t know how else to make her do what you wanted would you be surprised to have police at your door? I doubt it.

CappuccinoCake Thu 30-Nov-17 14:15:13

I wouldn't waste time on complaining. The therapist hearing you agonize over hitting your child isn't the one to work out how hard or whether it was okay or not hence the referral to SS who can see the child and investigate. It's the therapists responsibility to refer on. that said it's a break down of trust so you obviously need a new therapist.

I smacked my eldest a couple of times and agonized over it for a long time. Its never justified but the important thing is to move on and learn better ways to cope.

I really wouildnt be using time out on a babysad I found the "how to talk so kids listen and listen so kids talk" book really helpful.

Oldsadman Thu 30-Nov-17 14:32:41

Thanks for these comments. Nice to know I'm not alone and I wish the very best to you too. If people with mental health difficulties are made to feel that they can't talk openly, what hope is there for them. Time out has worked really well so far, especially for things like biting and pinching - to the point that it doesn't happen anymore, which is great because he goes to nursery a few days a week (and get's bitten!). I'll have a look at that book.

cremedelashite Thu 30-Nov-17 14:39:13

You should have been told that any risk to yourself, other people, especially minors that is raised in the room, may cause confidentially to be broken and other services to be sought. You raised physical harm to a child, albeit I hear you say it's a tap. It tends to be at the counsellors discretion if they tell their client that a referral has been made. You could argue you should have been told, but maybe the counsellor felt they had reason not to.

cremedelashite Thu 30-Nov-17 14:45:04

Think about it another way- a persons violence to a child escalates and a mental health professional had a chance to raise with social services but didn't...You're saying you're not that person but the rules are there to protect the vulnerable

Oldsadman Sat 02-Dec-17 00:39:24

Thanks Cremedelashite. I wasn't told any of that. I've since come to realise that that I was seeing a CBT Therapist fresh from a university, with a bit of staff training. That's how struggling NHS services are attempting to deal with the economic pressures - they've taken on increasingly cost efficient contractors who bid to deal with the extra demands and stresses on the service by offering short and intensive CBT courses, while qualified counsellors and psychotherapists get laid off or squeezed out. I still don't think I raised physical harm to my child. The pain was probably comparable to picking a piece of ice out of a puddle which my kids do for fun. The more I read about this on the internet, the more I am convinced by the fact that it is the world that is mad - not me. It's a very poignant question you ask - no one would ever want a child to slip though the net of protection, but as I allured to in my original post - no one would want a loving and kind parent suffering from depression, to be more exposed to the suspicion; accusations; alienation; stress and paranoia that results from an overzealous referral to social services. There is sweeping shift of opinion that even a light or moderate smack on the bum amounts to child abuse. Maybe that's a good thing. For me, it's been horrific and I'm sure it will be for others in similar situations. Micky mouse therapists and a tightening up on the law might improve stats and reduce risks of abused children going unnoticed, but the by product (in my opinion) will be broken marriages; lost jobs; self harming; substance abuse and suicides.

BatteredBreadedOrSouthernFried Sat 02-Dec-17 09:24:03

but the by product (in my opinion) will be broken marriages; lost jobs; self harming; substance abuse and suicides.

Or you could just not smack babies.

It’s quite worrying how hard you are trying to shift the blame for the consequences of your actions. Which suggests to me that SS definitely should be keeping an eye on you.

Out of interest, what will you do when your baby smacks you? (He/she will) it won’t hurt anymore than lifting a piece of ice out of a puddle. So it’s ok?

AfunaMbatata Sat 02-Dec-17 09:29:10

I think I’ve just lost what little sympathy I had for you.
Stop justifying hitting a tiny child.

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