We know that if the professionals in the child protection system are told that a child is being hurt or at risk of being hurt, they have to act. And that can sometimes mean an intrusive investigation into the family and some difficult questions.
Here we set out some of the words of parents who have been investigated and no concerns were found – and how they found the experience.
We hope that all who work in this field can recognise the potentially enormous impact of their interventions and will appreciate the importance of remaining professional in all their interactions.
One mother’s story
This mother had to deal with an investigation following something her son said at school. Nothing came of the investigation but she is still dealing with its aftermath and her shock at the attitude of some of the investigating professionals.
There were no concerns about my son until an unqualified student with no experience of autism turned an informal chat into a ‘therapy session’ in which she questioned him as to why he ‘looked sad’. This led him to become anxious and confused. A referral was made on the basis of what he said during this session.
We were not informed that a referral had been made and my son was sent home and was in great distress when he tried to explain what had happened.
I think I was so shocked at what had happened to us because I had spent 10 years putting everything I had into the children, particularly my son (with SN and who we had adopted) and my daughter who had died of cancer.
I remember thinking ‘what more do they expect of me? What more do I have to do to prove that my children are the most important thing in the world, that I would do anything to keep them safe?’
The thing that had kept me going after my daughter was the knowledge that I had done everything I could for her and I had felt proud that we had fought for our son. That he had been handed to us out of the blue because a relative couldn’t care for him and I had dropped everything to take him as one of our own.
But none of that seemed to mean anything and ever since I feel I have lost my credentials as a good mother. I have never been a brilliant or perfect or complacent mother but I knew that I did my best.
And all that seemed to have been snatched from me. For no good reason. Through the unprofessional behaviour of others. To those professionals it was a routine thing that was done and dusted and nothing came of it.
Not to me.
I have done the initial complaint and the response was rubbish. I am still working up to the second one. It is one of the very few times I have wished I was rich. Just so I could pay a solicitor to deal with it (even though its not a strictly legal matter).
The arrogance is breathtaking. I quoted paragraphs from the area guidelines and their own policy and the person dealing with my complaint just ignored the things he couldn’t justify!
I know I have to get on with it but ….GAH…I hate it.
I think it shakes your confidence in your ability to keep your child safe to be honest, and your trust in the health profession as well. Once my son was referred on every professional acknowledged that I was a knowledgeable and experienced parent who handled ds sensitively and that helped a great deal.
Five years after my son’s diagnosis I had my daughter and she restored my confidence, I escaped the pnd and puerperal psychosis, my daughter was a model baby and when she was diagnosed with autism at two it was so smoothly done (No one would have dared doubted me by then).
The anger has gone, I look back and just feel sad now and grateful in a way that it was autism because had it been something life threatening I’m in no doubt that my concerns wouldn’t have been listened to or acted upon until it was too late.
I’ve done the tribunal and judicial review to get my son into independent specialist school so you have my sympathy but I learned from my complaint to keep meticulous notes and they helped enormously.
My son was my fourth child, I was never neurotic, I had never expressed any concerns about the others, never needed any support and the others thrived. Suddenly that all counted for nothing, they totally dismissed that I knew what the average child should be able to do and my son was nothing like average.
I even said I thought it was autism (because my son presented as classical autism and I was looking for reasons why) but that was seen as being proof it was MBP. The psychiatrist himself asked for referral for assessment for autism because it was so obvious and yet the GPs thought they knew better than the psychiatrist and the SALT.
Their arrogance astounds me to this day.
The HV was forced to retire soon after my complaint when a baby nearly died because of her advice but the GPs are still there and it’s an open secret in this area that if a child enters school with developmental difficulties that haven’t been noticed or addressed the child is at that practise so my complaint counted for nothing in the end.
Hang in there, go through every complaints procedure, it’s bloody frustrating but I got a little pleasure knowing I was giving them extra work and they were shit scared up before the health authority which pleased me no end.
You may also be interested in our post – what if the doctors don’t believe my child is really ill?