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Abuse in Foster Care
June 29, 2013 permalink
In today's column Christopher Booker tells what happens to children after they go into state care. It is not a pretty picture. Without mentioning it by name he is describing the Cinderella effect, the propensity of parents to take better care of their own children than the children of strangers. Serious estimates are that foster care is ten times as abusive as parental care. When a social worker takes a child from a home twenty times as abusive as normal and puts him in foster care, his life can improve. But today's social services do nothing of the sort. They snatch children over trifles and make their lives far worse by placing them in the kinds of care described by Mr Booker.
What our judges forget when they send children into care
When vulnerable youngsters are cared for by the state, they are too often neglected and abused
In Leicester recently a jury was shown a 93-minute police video of a 14-year-old boy describing how, after being taken by social workers into care, he was for three years subjected by a care worker to sexual abuse so horrendous that he repeatedly pleaded for help from other members of staff. His pleas were ignored. He finally went to the police, who shot the video but did nothing. Shortly afterwards, the boy hanged himself with a curtain cord. Only when his “carer” was charged with 10 offences did the prosecution produce in evidence the video on which the police had failed to act.
Last week five men were given life sentences for raping, torturing and sex-trafficking six girls – one as young as 12 – over six years. Three girls were in council care. Their “carers” not only ignored the girls’ pleas for help but also connived in what was going on. Remarkably similar stories have recently come from Rotherham, Derby and Rochdale, also involving the systematic abuse of young girls in care that social workers encouraged to continue.
One victim of the Oxford case, Jane, appeared in last Monday’s Panorama: Kids Lost in Care. This described the horrific experiences of several children removed from their families and placed in care. One distraught couple described how their grand-daughter had been moved 13 times to different care homes in two years, and how their pleas to her social workers were repeatedly ignored, until days after running away again from one home she was found dead of a drug overdose. The film ended with Jane, who had been sold for sex on the streets of Soho while in care, observing of those charged with looking after her: “They’re meant to be responsible for innocent and vulnerable children. To put them in a situation where they are even worse off than they were to begin with is confusing. A lot of this wouldn’t have happened if they had done their job properly.”
Since the start of 2008, when the “Baby P” scandal was in the headlines, applications by social workers to take children into care have more than doubled, from fewer than 400 a month to nearly 1,000. In England alone, 67,000 children are now in care. Yet many are so unhappy that, according to the police, some 10,000 a year “go missing”. Having followed hundreds of such stories in recent years, few things have struck me more forcefully than the number of children taken from their families, often for the most dubious of reasons, who then, in “care”, report abuse and ill-treatment far worse than anything alleged against the parents from whom they were removed.
Such is the other half of the equation of what goes on behind the scenes of our “child-protection” system that too often gets overlooked. It is one thing to take children from their parents for no good reason. But just as tragic is the fate of far too many children when they enter the murky underworld of state care. Of course, there are times when it is right for the state to intervene on behalf of children who are being genuinely abused. Of course, there are good foster carers, and nothing could be more heart-warming than those cases where children removed from a cruel and dysfunctional home find a new life with loving adoptive parents.
But more evidence is emerging, despite the wall of secrecy our “child-protection” system has built to protect itself, that this is far from being always the case, and that the system can too often make a horrible mockery of that mantra beloved by lawyers that all is being done in “the best interests of the child”. When judges rubber-stamp requests for children to be taken into care, this is the half of the equation they too readily ignore. They act as if taking of children into “care” means what it says, instead of the very opposite.
One of the few judges who seems to have given careful thought to this crucial question is our most senior female judge, Baroness Hale of the Supreme Court, as she displayed in a recent dissenting judgment which has become quite a talking point in legal circles. To her measured thinking in the case of “B” (a child) I hope soon to return.
Source: Telegraph (UK)