Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.
Teens Use Facebook
Mom Goes to Jail
February 25, 2012 permalink
A British mother is facing jail time for violating a court order preventing her from having direct or indirect contact with her two girls in foster care. It seems the kids still living with her found the girls on Facebook and started conversing. Since the social service perpetrators of this outrage don't want their actions known, the case is covered by a gag order. Christopher Booker can only tell the story without names.
Mother could face jail because her children talked to each other on Facebook
This case would make headlines across the land, if it were not hidden behind the family courts' extraordinary wall of secrecy.
Sometime this week, in a case which promises to make legal history, a mother may be sent to prison, apparently because her teenage children – two of whom are in foster care for reasons which, I am told, had nothing to do with her treatment of them – have been chatting to each other on Facebook.
This landmark case, which says much about the surreal state of our family protection system, arose from a judicial order last year that the mother must not talk to her children on Facebook, even through “a third party”. The two girls were taken into care a few years back for their own protection, I am told, not because of any actions by their mother but because their safety had been threatened by members of a gang on the inner-city council estate where they lived. After being sent to a foster home in another part of the country, they eventually managed to make contact through Facebook with their brothers and a cousin, all of whom are still living with their mother in the family home.
Once contact had been established between the younger members of the family, the mother joined in – until this came to the notice of social workers in the city where the family originally lived. This led to the judge’s order last year that the mother must have no further contact with her daughters, an order which she obeyed – even though her girls had repeatedly been told that she no longer loved them. (Thanks to what they had been told by their brothers on Facebook, they knew this to be untrue.)
The children, however, continued to chat to each other, and this was picked up by social workers who were monitoring their exchanges on Facebook. This has led to the mother being summonsed to attend a family court, in a city 100 miles away from where they now live, under threat of imprisonment for breaching the court order.
If the judge sentences the mother, it will have a hugely detrimental effect on the lives of the three children who live with her, Her two sons have already had enough disturbance to their lives, having themselves spent time unhappily in care (again for reasons which, I am told, had nothing to do with their mother’s treatment of them but with the behaviour of a now long-absent partner). They were eventually allowed by the social workers and courts to return to live with her, as was their cousin, who had also been in care.
All three teenagers are deeply dismayed at the prospect of their lives being turned upside down again, after they have found security with someone who loves and cares for them. The two boys and their cousin plan to accompany the mother to the court, hoping they might be allowed to explain that it was they, not she, who initially tracked down the sisters on Facebook, and continued to make contact after the mother had been forbidden to communicate with them.
I have more than once reported on mothers being sent to prison for inadvertently breaching court orders prohibiting them from contacting their children. One was punished for sending her son a birthday card, another for waving across the street when she saw her child, who was in foster care in the same town. A third was sent down when, after walking to a local petrol station to buy a newspaper, she happened to coincide with her daughter, who called out to her from the back of a car which had pulled in at the same time.
But if this latest episode ends in a prison sentence it will make history as the first time that any mother has been gaoled just because her children have wanted to talk to each other on Facebook – supposedly in breach of a court order that was not directed at them in the first place. It is a case that should make headlines across the land. But thanks to the extraordinary wall of secrecy that our family protection system has erected around itself, to hide its workings from public view, it is unlikely to attract any coverage at all.
Such is the England in which we now live, where people can be imprisoned for an offence they themselves have not committed – and where this cannot even be reported, except in the anonymised terms I have had to use here.
Source: Telegraph (UK)