You may have already heard about the 8 year old boy removed from his mother's care because she wouldn't take him out for an ice cream. On the face of it, it seems like the return of the boy was a win against Social Services, but this mother is not out of the woods yet.
The reason given for removing this boy from his mother's care was “emotional neglect”; a very broad term open to a huge variety of interpretation which also makes you question how much better these needs could be met in foster care. In fact, the disruption of a child's life via removal from their usual situation is guaranteed to cause emotional disruption, which is surely counter productive to say the least.
Justice Mostyn, who ordered the boy returned home had this to say of the social worker's report:
This witness statement was very long on rhetoric and generalised criticism but very short indeed on any concrete examples of where and how the mother's parenting had been deficient.
The concrete examples were that the mother didn't take her son out for an ice cream and didn't allow him to have his hair cut in the style he liked. So how narrow is the line between emotional neglect and teaching your offspring that they can't always have what they want, if this is classed as not meeting emotional needs?
It seems the investigation from Child Protective Services started because the mother wasn't considered to be spending enough one to one time with her son. In today's 1st world system it's normal and even encouraged that parents are working 8+ hours day. Once home they are exhausted, have food to prepare and a house to clean. Is it any surprise that they struggle to find much time to be with their children? If they don't keep the house clean CPS will call that physical neglect and if they don't go to work they will struggle to provide and that's neglect too. They are in a no win situation where emotional neglect seems to be closing the circle.
Anyway, I digress. On this flimsy evidence a junior judge ruled that the boy should be removed to foster care while mum visited to be assessed on her parenting skills. I'm not sure how parenting skills can be assessed in such a supervised and stressful situation though.
The mother applied to Carmarthenshire Social Services to have her son returned and the application was refused. It took a senior judge to finally overrule them and return her son. Yet despite Justice Mostyn ruling the criticism as “insubstantial” and “inconsequential” and returning the boy to his mother he still ruled that:
the boy's care would have to be supervised by social services.
Effectively social workers still have full access to try and find more “concrete” evidence to once more remove this woman's son. Call it over-reacting, but to me this is akin to someone who is kidnapped and raped being rescued and told they can go home, but their rapist will come and tuck them into bed each night!
The removal of this woman's son was pretty much kidnap and should have been ruled as such. Instead, Justice Mostyn has placed his kidnappers back in his home. Is that even justice? Isn't it about time this mother and son were left in peace?
While I'm pleased that the tactics of CPS are finally hitting mainstream media and maybe more people will start to believe how bad things are getting, I don't feel we should be complacent that justice is coming. It seems to me that their tactics remain underhand and we need to continue to read between the lines.