The Troubling Role of Trauma in Social Work – a parent’s view.

I am grateful for this guest post from contributor She asks how do social workers perceive ‘trauma’ and what impact does that perception have on their decision making? Are social workers being tempted to make ‘diagnosis’ of conditions that are outside their expertise?

When we see pictures of puppies or kittens we may have a strong impulse to go ‘Aaaah’. When we hear of ‘traumatised/abused/neglected children’ we should feel a visceral sense of revulsion. Social workers working with children will see it as their professional role to make things better for the ‘traumatised/neglected child’ but what does a traumatised/neglected child look like? That can be very hard to assess. At one end of the spectrum the child may be very quiet and at the other end a child may be beyond control and have any number of difficulties from extreme anxiety to violence. Are the problems of such children a result of abuse/trauma or could there be other reasons for their difficulties?

What if a social worker takes it upon themselves to assess the problem and becomes so fixed in his/her views that he/she fails to robustly assess all possible reasons for a child’s difficulties and take any steps he or she can to pinpoint exactly where the problems are? I believe many social workers have reached the point where they are now in danger of making these calls based on their own ‘hyper-vigilance’ around trauma/neglect.

What is trauma?

I must confess I never paid too much attention to ‘trauma’ before social workers entered my life and I began to hear this word again and again. I suppose my idea of trauma would have been a natural childbirth – the most natural thing in the world even if it is challenging when you are going through it.

Social workers seemed to use trauma as shorthand to explain why someone might be having a difficulty. This version of trauma seemed to me to be closer to a therapist’s version of trauma, an emotional wound or rupture that needed to be addressed before the person could move on with their life.

I’ve since had the benefit of hours of support from therapists around the ‘fall-out’ around our family situation so I think I really do now understand trauma – the life-changing, perspective-altering, ‘no-going back, get used to it’ type of trauma but I still have serious reservations about how social worker perceive trauma and the role it plays in people’s lives. The idea of a social worker fixing emotional wounds may help social workers get through a very challenging day but it seems to me to bring with it a number of really quite serious problems.

The danger of scapegoating

I believe that social workers often deal with parents in distress/despair including the ‘just about managing’ who have tipped over into crisis. They may, for example, be caring for disabled children, in poor health, living with violence, carrying debt they have no chance of paying off or in poor/insecure housing and employment. They may also not speak English very well or be dyslexic or have learning disabilities. They may have a whole range of vulnerabilities that they need help with including help parenting a child with unexplained emotional and behavioural difficulties.

I don’t want to make this an article about the destructive effects on families of policies that are ‘rebalancing’ our society so that we all become ‘economically productive units’ but it is a fact that these policies are really hurting many of the ‘just about managing’. Social workers may feel powerless when faced with the effects of these policies and may not have the resources to meaningfully address the difficulties of those affected but it is an undeniable fact these policies are having a hugely detrimental effect on the mental health of many of our children. (See–-housing-instability-marks-lives-of#163961_20170330102705)

When supporting families in dire circumstances, it is tempting for the social worker to take on the role of ‘expert’, stick a label of ‘incompetent’ on the parent without acknowledging the role of factors beyond the control of social worker or parent on the child’s difficulties. Parenting classes are a rite of passage for parents in this situation. Having being on an excellent but wildly inappropriate Troubled Families Programme this is emotive territory for me. There may be no money for anything else but in my view it is unethical to send parents on parenting courses without a very clear idea of the child’s/families difficulties and how the course will help in all spheres including around personalised health support.

The ‘nature vs nurture’ debate.

Where to start…
Trying to find answers for a child’s difficulties is such a highly contested area and moves well beyond the social work world. This contest is fought out for example in the arenas of genome sequencing and brain scanning and there are also a small number of clinical trials challenging myths that have informed whole policies including policies on social work training. (See ) There are ‘dirty tricks’ including presenting brain scans of children brought up in environments where they have been extremely mistreated,used to evidence harm caused by parental incompetence.

This battle is also fought by people based on their own difficult experiences of childhood or of parenting a child with unexplained and profound difficulties for whom they have been unable to get help. Few players do not have strongly held beliefs or professional reputations at stake.
Clinicians are grappling with the implications of this in terms of clinical practice. Policy makers have identified a tsunami of demand and know there are very limited clinical resources with the expertise to make these calls for individual children.

As an example of the difficulties clinicians face there are two diagnoses for virtually the same set of symptoms. Attachment disorder for the children of the disorganized, unresponsive parent living in poverty that is unable to parent their child successfully (cause – parental neglect) and late diagnosis Autism/Asperger Syndrome possibly with a demand avoidance profile for the children of ‘competent’ parents. (cause – as with all the Autisms largely genetic with a possible in-vitro environmental element).

Fraudsters abound with ‘bleach cures’ and dubious ‘therapies’ and families are desperate for answers. There are virtually no diagnostic paths for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. No matter what the circumstances of their parents, it is, in my view, likely that the low priority given to mental health services for children has all-but failed a generation of self-harming, anxiety immobilised adolescents and their families, many with unidentified disabilities and difficulties such as sensory and sleep disorders,. ( It is also likely that low self-esteem is a major contributing factor for many children/young people with ‘behavioural’ difficulties. Somewhere in the mix comes trauma – the ‘emotional wound’ type and the ‘neglect’ type and the type you ‘recover from’ and the type you ‘learn to live with but never recover from’. The good news where trauma is concerned is that recovery is often possible with the right support unlike disability which is life-long.

Imagine what is like for a parent really struggling to get help for their child to be told the child’s difficulties are ‘on your head’, caused by ‘trauma’ and by a social worker to boot and yet many social workers believe this is their call.

What is the Social Workers role?

It may or may not be true that there is widespread mis-diagnosis of ADHD, ASD, Attachment and anxiety and similar disorders but it takes another clinician to make this call for an individual child and to generalise you need evidence of widespread mis-diagnosis via randomised clinical studies or equivalent.

I believe when trying to help a young person with profound emotional, behavioural difficulties social workers should be alert, question, look for guidance from clinical colleagues, raise concerns where you have them, provide personalised support to the best of your ability, fight for their clients rights for good support including good clinical support but you should always stick to your area of competency. The ability to make clinical diagnoses as a result of trauma just does not fall within it.

53 thoughts on “The Troubling Role of Trauma in Social Work – a parent’s view.

  1. Planet Autism

    “It may or may not be true that there is widespread mis-diagnosis of ADHD, ASD, Attachment and anxiety and similar disorders”

    There is *underdiagnosis* of autism and ADHD especially in females. There is misdiagnosis rife of attachment disorder in children who in fact have neurodevelopmental disorders, based on the opinions and labels dished out by such unqualified professionals as social workers and being used to monitor families and take children from some of these families.

    The problems start when children are undiagnosed and their behaviours are not understood as neurodevelopmental disorders. If CAMHS have failed to diagnose an autistic child (there are stories of parents being told that because their autistic child appears to be coping in school they don’t need a diagnosis! Also comments by clinicians “we don’t want to label the child do we”) then social workers coming along with their size 9’s making ill-founded assumptions can be very dangerous for families. This is probably why neurodevelopmental disorders are overrepresented in the care system!

    An autistic child, and especially a PDA child, means that these parenting courses that parents are pushed into just don’t work. The rule book is very different for these children. Yet social workers are not trained in autism and expect to fit these families into their tick-boxes. It just will never work.

    The horrific thing is that LAs are using child protection interventions against autism families in retribution.

    “In recent times, a new tactic has been used by Local Authorities when dealing with perceived to be ‘problem parents’; the involvement of Social Services. In practice, this is becoming more commonplace.”

    “…it is becoming more apparent that Social Care Departments across the country are quick to conclude that it is simply ‘bad parenting’ as opposed to considering the features of the diagnosis.”

    “If however the parents are intent on seeking funding for further support or a specialist ASD placement (via the SEN Tribunal) then this procedure is often used as a means of halting any challenge to the Authority regarding educational issues; a quite shameful tactic. Unfortunately, situations like this are becoming the norm.”

    “As opposed to working collaboratively with the family, many Local Authorities will go on the offensive. Any perceived challenge from parents will be a catalyst for Social Services involvement and a host of issues for them to face, most notably child protection procedures…”

    Social workers have very limited training considering the issues that families are dealing with and will always therefore be prone to wrongful opinions on what they are seeing. What you describe, professionals working outside their sphere of competence is something that really irks me. Yet nonetheless they will be backed up by other professionals in the pool. Talking about trauma, how about the trauma caused to families (including the children) by the wrongful actions of social services?

    “A huge increase in the number of children being referred to social services has caused “catastrophic” trauma for tens of thousands of families without any corresponding increase in the number of child abuse cases detected, the author of a study has said.”

    “We are now at a situation where up to 5% of all families are now referred for assessment every year,” said Dr Lauren Devine, principal investigator of the Economic and Social Research Council-funded study.”

    1. looked_after_child

      This thread seems as good as any to post this quote below. It is about ‘behaviour that challenges’ in relation to people with Learning Disabilities/Autism.

      “Positive Behavioural Support (PBS), aims to enhance quality of life as both an intervention and outcome ….PBS interventions are also constructional in that increasing the person’s repertoire of adaptive behaviours and their range of positive life opportunities is a central objective. In contrast, the use of aversive or punitive interventions is rejected on the basis of their incompatibility with a values-led approach” (

      It seems to me that there is a very real danger that risk-averse Social Care professionals with very limited training in understanding the potential impact of LD/Autism within a family, resort to ‘punitive interventions’ via the courts because they have little time and few resources around ‘increasing the family’s repertoire of adaptive behaviours and their range of positive life opportunities’. The big problem with this, even if you set aside the injustice – none of the underlying problems go away – just ‘displaced’ to different settings/contexts.

      Apologies, piece above – not ‘in-vitro’ should be ‘in-utero’

      1. looked_after_child

        Last quote from me from this resource –
        “While the emphasis on PBS in UK policy is welcome, its main impact to date is that many services, agencies and trainers now lay claim to implementing this approach when their actual practice bears little or no resemblance to the model … This parallels experience in North America, where a similarly rapid promotion of PBS was associated with a misunderstanding,
        dilution and corruption of the approach.
        The genuine implementation of P BS requires joined-up working across service sectors and within multi-disciplinary teams, ensuring that both teams and the individuals within them
        understand their role in delivering this approach. It also requires the recruitment and retention of the right people, quality training and staff development, opportunities for staff progression within services, the ability to assess staff performance and evaluate service provision,
        knowing what to look for in a service provider, and consistency in practice to facilitate research”

        Only phrase missing is ‘window dressing’?
        We hear so much about ‘therapeutic’ this and that…wonder ( or not) if the same issues apply?

        1. looked_after_child

          What ‘Attachment Theory’ misses???

          The value of Early Diagnosis in supporting parents to support their autistic children
          PACT (Pre-School Autism Communication Trial)

          The PACT study tested a treatment that aimed to enhance parent-child communication in autism and the social and language development of the child. The approach aims to help parents adapt their communication style to their child’s impairments and respond to their child with enhanced sensitivity and responsiveness. There is a focus on increasing shared attention through eye-gaze, sharing, showing and giving. Parents are encouraged to use language that is tailored to their child’s level of understanding. Parents are also introduced to strategies that facilitate child communication and participation, such as action routines, repeated verbal scripts and the use of elaborations, pauses, and teasing.

        2. Angelo Granda

          looked after child, I agree. My experience of care homes and the carers fits exactly.
          They lay claim to be experts and that they are implementing positive-behaviour plans, autistic communication strategies such as PEC cards, allowing freedom of movement, adequate family contact ,occupational therapy etc.etc.etc. but in actual fact they are not.
          For one ,the staff are not trained in administering these things, they are not experts ,often they are temporary, sometimes youngsters,often agency staff recruited for a day or two.
          Plus the home’s own interests and finances come first at all times and the ‘rules’ of the house too risk averse. For example, the girl who is confined not by necessity but because the Council bureaucrats are taking ages to consider funding.
          I am not saying these people are dishonest,they do their best but I am saying they are neglecting the young people and making them worse.
          A home placement should always be the preferred option with outreach support.
          It is the LA’s who I am calling dishonest and that is because they appear to avoid deliberately going to get correct advice from autism experts. They prefer to fudge issues and go to CAMHS and psychiatrists with plenty of experience of mental illness but very little specialist knowledge of autism. This can be no mistake on their part.

      1. HelenSparkles

        looked_after_child I’m ok thanks, coming toward the end of treatment, and I don’t want to scare anyone, but it has been quite a trauma in itself. I’m looking forward to the passing of time and being able to say this time last year! Thanks for asking.

        I really don’t know why any SW are doing anything other than saying, this might be xyz, we need a clinician to tell us. Sometimes diagnosis isn’t clear but they are more likely to give you what you need to work with to ensure the right support is in place.

          1. looked_after_child

            I hope Helen you have a good Summer. It is a good time of year to regain health ..long days and good weather

          2. HelenSparkles

            If that is the case I am thinking of, it was an almost unintelligible report, and not the kind of thing I am used to reading. Sarah sees more of the inside of a court than I do though, so might know how much more widespread it is or isn’t.

            Social workers do have an expertise and some therapeutic language sometimes feels unavoidable (because you’d have to use 10 words to say psychosocial for example) but I’m more of a fan of using language everyone can understand.

  2. Sam

    What did parents want?
    Just before the recent conference about violent challenging behaviour (VCB) in special needs children, I emailed the parents who were due to attend to ask them what they most wanted from the day itself. These are, without exception, parents who are being pushed to their very limits, coping with frightening and dangerous situations every day, and dealing with painful and traumatic injuries being inflicted on a regular basis by the children they love more than anything else in the world.

    Reading their replies was humbling, particularly when I realised that most of them wanted, more than anything else, was the chance to simply spend time with other people in the same situation so that they would be believed, understood, accepted and not judged for the first time ever.

    Yvonne Newbold VCB

    To be understood and accepted
    That’s what we all want, deep down, to be with people who inherently understand us and to feel validated and valued for who we are and what we have experienced. It’s really not a lot to ask for, especially considering how extremely difficult life is for this group of parents. Yet almost without exception, they were able to recall times when they had tried to explain their circumstances to others, and they were made to feel judged, blamed, belittled and shamefully inadequate as parents.

    VCB Yvonne Newbold thumb

    Loneliness was another issue that many parents talked about in their replies. Loneliness doesn’t just imply being physically alone, on the contrary some of the parents were surrounded by people in their everyday lives. However, nobody in their circle truly understood and believed in them and in their child and they were lonely in the way that only other people’s attitudes can make someone feel entirely alone and isolated.

    To help our children
    The second most common wish for the day was that they were hoping to learn new strategies and ideas that they could use to help their children cope better with their frustrations, and that might be able to reduce the level of violence their children are using as a way of communicating. Linked to this were several comments about wanting to understand why these behaviours occur, and how to prevent them or to de-escalate them when they happen. They wanted information, support, signposting and advice.

    child Yvonne Newbold

    Information – it’s not a lot to ask for
    Again, it’s not a lot to ask. Their children have a diagnosed disability such as a learning disability or autism, and this behaviour is a well-documented potential symptom of these diagnoses. There is a lot of information about how these behaviours can be more successfully managed or even re-directed, yet finding that information and piecing it together can be nigh on impossible. There are specialist behavioural support teams who can work with families to help their children. Yet the vast majority of parents can’t access these teams easily, and even those who do manage to get specialist support often have had to wait years to be taken seriously enough for a referral to be made.

    Books Yvonne Newbold

    Avoiding injuries
    Avoiding injuries was another big issue, and that included how to prevent the child from self-harming as well as protecting their brothers and sisters from injury during these behaviour episodes.

    Practical tips
    When a child has developed patterns of challenging behaviour than can be violent, the dynamics of the family shift so that it can feel as though the child themselves is in control of the household with everyone else walking on eggshells doing all that they can to keep them happy and settled. Parents recognise this, and wanted practical tips on how to re-establish firm boundaries in these sorts of situations, and to take back the control of the family.

    Fear of the future
    There was another theme running strongly through the replies from parents, the fear of the future. What happens when their children get bigger and stronger if no one has helped them to re-direct their violent behaviour? Parents are desperate to know what they can do now to help their children reach their full potential and to find different ways to channel their frustrations. The biggest fear among parents is that their children, once they reach adulthood, may end up in prison or locked away in a long-stay mental health unit.

    boy Yvonne Newbold

    Professional Help
    How to access professional help was another huge issue. Help that should be immediately available to these families, some of the most vulnerable in the country. Instead, shockingly, one parent after another recounted their experiences of being disbelieved, blamed, dismissed and abandoned by the very services supposedly put in place to support families most in need.

    Lack of training among Professionals
    Staff in schools, in Local Authorities, Social Services and Health Care Centres have no training in violent challenging behaviour, so they have no understanding that it’s an issue at all. When a parent asks for help, more often than not it is so far outside a staff member’s own lived experience that they simply don’t know what to do, how to react, or how to help.

    Training Yvonne Newbold

    “Parent Blaming
    Instead, many families are blamed for their child’s behaviour, and it is very common that parents end up facing child protection proceedings instead of getting the help for their child that is so badly needed.

    There were several parents at the conference whose children, sometimes including the brothers and sisters, had been forcibly removed from their home and placed in the care system. All because the professionals involved with the families had wrongly made an assumption that the parents were somehow to blame for their child’s special-needs driven behaviour patterns.”

    Glad that a professional recognises this, perhaps more will. We can but hope

    1. looked_after_child

      Hi Helen
      Looked up psychosocial –
      ”The psychosocial approach looks at individuals in the context of the combined influence that psychological factors and the surrounding social environment have on their physical and mental wellness and their ability to function.”
      Hmmm – I would’ent be a fan of this language at all. I really do not think it helps anyone – it is a sort of pseudo-science in my view – jargon that actually tells us little about the complexity of human experience or the experience of a single individual or group of individuals.
      There are so many better words and phrases – reflective, understanding, awareness, capacity, support, adequate as x , inadequate because x, excellent, poor, however, engagement. dis-engagement, loving, caring, vulnerability, detached, high needs due to x . etc etc

      If someone resorts to jargon I’m always suspicious as to why .. it is often an attempt to give a spurious legitimacy when the case is not very strong. I bet this stuff will not age well either because it relies on ‘insider’s knowledge’ of the jargon and time moves on and these concepts get consigned to the ‘junk bin’ of history or the meanings change.
      Attachment theory for example as understood in the 1980’s is probably very different to what it is today.

      A ‘Secure base’ could be something that ISIS or its equivalent operates out of in another 20 years whereas language that describes the human experience is likely to reach its target audience better today and tomorrow.

      I really hate it because it creates ‘experts’ out of people who speak the language only but may have no deep understanding of the issues involved. It disempowers the supposed ‘non-expert’ and where SW is concerned the aim should be that people should always be the experts in their own life.


      1. HelenSparkles

        Psychosocial was just an example word, it isn’t actually often used, except by clinicians. Psychosocial is an example of a word doing its job, it is one word which is very specific. The reason I used it as an example was because it would take a large number of words to unpack it, as you showed.

        I agree that families are the experts on themselves, I’ve known families to use language I don’t understand, just because they have become the experts in their child’s conditions/disorders/needs etc.

        I don’t think people should use words they don’t understand and I do think that language should be plain, when using an example of a clinical diagnosis in a statement, the SW may quote the expert’s opinion rather than actually claiming that expertise. I can’t imagine a SW using the word psychosocial without it referring to a psychological assessment for example.

        I don’t care what you call it, attachment, secure base etc. It remains that, in order to develop healthily, children need a safe, reliable, responsive and available adult who is attuned to their needs and who can consistently be trusted to meet them.

        1. Sam

          I don’t care what you call it, attachment, secure base etc. It remains that, in order to develop healthily, children need a safe, reliable, responsive and available adult who is attuned to their needs and who can consistently be trusted to meet them

          Perhaps it was explained in these terms parents would understand, please simplify where possible. I am sure you do Helen.

          1. HelenSparkles

            Let’s hope so Sam, I never use the word attachment because I just don’t think it means what people would (quite understandably) normally interpret it as meaning. Easier to say what children actually need and what i want to see (in CP cases) in plainer terms. I risk sounding all holier than thou but I just don’t think it is fair on parents to do otherwise and I do think it is important to check someone’s understanding.

        2. looked_after_child

          ” children need a safe, reliable, responsive and available adult who is attuned to their needs and who can consistently be trusted to meet them.”

          Children deserve this and who ever brings them into this world should take on this responsibility.

          This is the bit I’d question as an absolute – ” in order to develop healthily,” they need this. Seems a bit hard on the child who dos’ent have it but may for example have good relationships with older siblings etc..

          1. looked_after_child

            I guess I’m saying there is the norm and that non norms are riskier but dos’ent mean they cannot work for a child with good all-round support.

          2. Angelo Granda

            Children deserve to live with their natural parent regardless of whether or not he or she can be consistently trusted to meet the child’s needs and it is the child’s human right to do so. Sometimes a parent may be ill or otherwise temporarily indisposed and that is when we ( through the Local Authority) do our level best to support the family and grant the child’s human rights. Sometimes, indeed, the child may have an illness or disability which makes it exceedingly difficult if not impossible for the natural parents to meet their needs completely.
            It is only in very dire circumstances that the LA should think of removing a child into care, even when threshold criteria for neglect are met.That is the law as I understand it.
            The problem is that there is no actual definition of what we are to regard as ‘dire circumstances’ in my opinion.
            I would be grateful were readers to suggest where we can set some sort of line. I guess LA’s set it too low which is unjust. I think some sort of malicious on the part of parents should be in evidence before circumstances can be considered sufficiently dire.

          3. HelenSparkles

            The threshold for significant harm, or risk of significant harm, is relatively clear Angelo.

            I think LAs do take to court their views for a decision to be made, that shouldn’t be viewed as the bar being set too low, but as SW not making the decision about where the bar is.

          4. HelenSparkles

            It is tough on the child who doesn’t have it & sibling relationships are v important but not a substitute;, siblings also need their needs to be met.

            Developing healthily refers to emotional and physical development, both can be affected by cortisol flooding the brain (at times of stress which are more frequent if adults caring for children are not attuned to their needs/can be relied on to meet them).

      1. looked_after_child

        Hello Helen

        Please can you direct me to the clinical studies needed to evidence this statement :-

        ‘Developing healthily refers to emotional and physical development, both can be affected by cortisol flooding the brain (at times of stress which are more frequent if adults caring for children are not attuned to their needs/can be relied on to meet them’.

        Many thanks

  3. looked_after_child

    Yvonne Newbold is a parent Sam but if you look at the line-up of speakers there were people from NHS and CAMHS etc. There were also people in the room the MoJ there too ( our prisons are full of special needs young people, many of them Care experienced that should never be in there) Bear in mind this conference was on a Saturday so many would have been there ‘on their own time’ This is hugely, hugely encouraging professionals who know understand the massive injustice – just not enough know but if we keep getting the message out there things just may change.

  4. looked_after_child

    No DfE though..still some way before they join the dots and they run social care for children including requiring minimum standards of SW training about disabilities.

    I do sometimes wonder if someone did a FOI request about the autism awareness programme within the DfE what they would find? It might bring scrutiny to their ivory silos.

    1. looked_after_child

      Just so you know -I’m really really biting my tongue hard when it comes to the DfE. I was lucky enough to be at an APPG when I heard a very respected social worker academic give evidence to the effect that he remembered a time with the DfE thought their job was to protect children and now they think their job is to protect the Minister….
      said it when I Trowler was also on the panel…
      .did’ent make it to the minutes sadly.. just a bit too rich/too close to the bone..

      1. looked_after_child

        You could’ent but agree with him if you followed Hansard discussions around the Children and Social Work Bill. Either no-one had the courage to tell Lord Nash for example what he did’ent want to hear/he was very badly briefed or he has very few scruples… Not his finest moment by a long, long shot.

        1. looked_after_child

          Somewhere in there is a whole other thread about what your ‘guiding star’ should be particularly when working in such a complex, emotive area – is it ethics, is it ideology, is it earning a living? Where does pragmatism fit when finding the best answer in context? When do you ‘cross the line’? Is something all right because it is legal? What are your values? What makes you uneasy and why? What do you do if so?

          ‘avoidance of desensitising is paramount’ .. Right?

  5. Angelo Granda

    Yes, we can but hope, Sam. That is about it, I’m afraid. The main problem though in my eyes is a legal one. For many, many years now the real professionals have recognised the practical realities and that parents are not to be blamed . However, many of the CP Professionals i.e. SW’s , their managers, the IRO’s and the various sets of solicitors WANT to blame the parents because they WANT to go to Court in order to procure the children for the care system. Not in the children’s best interests ,but against the law in the best interests of the authorities.
    How can we prove it on the balance of probabilities?
    That is easy! How do we prove that Police and criminal lawyers are acting against the law in their own interests? By demonstrating that they have broken the rules, not followed correct legal procedures, not carried out a fair ,impartial investigation etc. and not revealed all the evidence to the Court. Defendants have human rights and one of them is to a fair trial in accordance with the law.
    The civil courts are no different, in principle. Children , when their future is considered in a family court have a right to a fair hearing , too. The problem is that they aren’t assured one because the lawyers and judges do not enforce the law properly. They reckon , quite outrageously , that even when correct legal guidelines and procedures are flouted, when circumstances have not been investigated fully, objectively and impartially and when evidence contra-indicative to removal from natural family is withheld that if THEY decide quite at their own discretion that the children might still be at risk.
    I think that is where these barristers and Judges come from. A recent thread asked have CP professionals got a sense of humour. I guess they have a similar one in this day and age to that of Judge Jefferies when he used to condemn mothers to the rope and their children to transportation for nicking a crumb of bread.
    I think it was Sarah who described how it is obvious how a case is going to pan out within ten minutes of looking at the case -papers. Parents have described how a case builds up to a decision and how even their own lawyers appear to turn a blind eye to their arguments and fail the children in Court. At the end of a case, all the SW’s are smiling and engaging together happily with the lawyers including the respondent’s. They are all happy because I think that is because at the end of a case, their fees become payable.
    I doubt whether this comment will go down well with the lawyers or the other professionals but ,in truth, they are having a damn good laugh. With the Judge as their head, they are turning round to the Public at the cost of the children, laughing and trumpeting ( albeit in secret)


    They have assumed the authority to trample all over the child’s rights in what they claim to be in his best interests. Authoritarianism.

    Of course, I genuinely admire readers who keep us all informed particularly about autism. J’accuse the Local Authorities of deliberately targeting families with autistic children for the ‘treatment’ . Looked after child, factseeker, Sam and others, are there any statistics or professional opinion which supports me?ARE what are the statistics?

    1. HelenSparkles

      I think the way lawyers and other professionals interact in the court environment probably does need to be considered by all of us. It is a place of work and familiar setting to those people, so the courtesy even with the opposing side is much as it would be in any work place, there is after all no need to introduce additional conflict. I do though think the appearance matters, particularly to families, and very much to anyone who thinks people are happy because they have procured children for the care system – you sound very much like JFF when you say those things Angelo.

  6. looked_after_child

    Hello Angelo
    You must find evidence otherwise these are just wild theories. I don’t believe that professionals are just feeding the Care system in their own self interest. I believe in the Care system. It just want no child to enter it when this could be avoided with targeted and personalised support earlier and I want it to be fit for purpose – not hit and miss/haphazard/ lottery-type support and too often it is.
    We shall have to agree to disagree!.

  7. Angelo Granda

    No, they are not wild theories at all and I have already suggested how it can be proven on the balance of probabilities. I don’t believe in wild theories. That is for Social Workers and their lawyers and the Judges are only too willing to go along with them.
    As I have written above in the case of children with autism and other neuro-disabilities, the failures are indisputable. The problems these children have has been known for years and years and it has also been common law for more years than I can remember that CP professionals should seek the advice of specialists and consider the circumstances after looking at them alongside other children with the same complaint before taking any decisions as to their welfare or accusing parents of neglect.
    Do you honestly think the authorities FORGET accidentally to do so ? Do you honestly think they FORGET to act openly and honestly, withhold evidence and conceal positives for parents by mistake. It is not wild theory that one victim came on here and attested that “not one good word was said about me ,not one” despite all the good work she had put in and the changes she had made at home.
    Why do you think the Court can be so easily overwhelmed when the LA’s and their henchpersons don’t investigate impartially as they should do? That isn’t wild theory either, we have McFarland asserting that the primary duty of the CS is to make a fair and impartial investigation into the facts of a case and to report to the court what they find…… then we have a social worker on this resource honestly asserting that there is no such thing as an impartial investigation into facts and the aim of the CS is to prove significant harm in order to rescue children from what they have already themselves judged to be neglect ( before investigating the facts).
    BTW, I never wrote that professionals act in their own self-interest but that they don’t act in the best interests of children. However, it cannot be said with certainty they do not act in the best interests of the LA’s which pays them. Plus it cannot be said with any certainty that solicitors who act extensively for LA’s have no conflict of interests when acting for victims.
    Don’t forget also that Sarah has already told us that even when guidelines and legal procedures aren’t followed, the Court can decide that it doesn’t matter if the Court thinks the children may still be at risk. Even though the evidence and appraisals which persuades them so is shoddy and biased.
    No-one is saying that the authorities never have any reason to be concerned. Of course they do.
    I think it is more than abundantly ( by the way they act) that they deliberately elaborate upon facts, exaggerate circumstances and cause experts to make unrealistic appraisals by presenting very brief, false evidence. They ignore the basic essential essentials such as consulting parents and extended family who can support them despite the frameworks. They don’t inform parents of their right to an advocacy service neither do the solicitors. Is that wild theory? looked after child,you disappoint me.Don’t let them take you in. Question them more. Like you ,I support child-protection .Families should be supported when they have problems. Not destroyed. Its bad for the

  8. Angelo Granda

    As for feeding the care system you should not be so sure . The authorities haven’t apologised for the malpractice when procuring children for Australian work camps yet ( even though the authorities over there have years ago. There is lots we don’t know about yet until the secrets come out. Why not apologise? Where are all these thousands of children? Are they banned from exercising their right to free speech when they come-of-age? Like they are in care?

  9. looked_after_child

    Hello Angelo
    I’ve not been working in this area ( sometimes I’m not sure what it is anymore but I think it is about making the Care system fit for purpose for autistic children that really have to be in Care because once everything else has been tried it is the best option) as long as you. My son is very bright academically – he was always seen as ‘of high value’ to society.
    When his troubles began, his teachers and GP dropped him like a hot brick. There was clearly something wrong but he was to old to get a diagnosis ‘from afar’ and he could not see he had any difficulties. He became ‘worthless’ to society – nobody had though children/young people like him deserved decent healthcare or that we deserved good support as his parents and so on and so on..until he entered Care.

    When he did so the way we were marginalised because of his age was not in HIS best interests. The reality is that we will be there for our son when all the professionals who make short term decisions about/with him are long gone.

    I want no other family to experience what we experienced BUT I know I cannot influence people who can make changes for the better if I make them feel they are in a very small space and I’m shouting at them. This really can be hard to gauge sometimes when you care passionately about something – the reality is most people have other concerns and working with this can sometimes take its toll.

  10. Angelo Granda

    We agree on most things but do you agree with me that CP professionals are not imbeciles?
    They have their motives for failing to follow procedures correctly and for turning blind and deaf ‘uns to parents and to the need for autism ( and other neuro-disabilities) – specific expert reports and assessments. They don’t ignore the rules in the best interests of the children. The Adoption and Children’s Act states quite unequivocally that decisions must be taken in the ‘whole-of-life’ interests of the child and that they must be provided with the chance of a proper HOMELIFE. They have their motives when they raise their eyes to the sky or drop their gaze to the floor whenever anyone presents them with evidence that their reports and assessments are wrong. They won’t change their reports!
    Why is it do you think that when mums become emotional and upset because of separation ( which is a normal, human reaction) the CS put forward false suggestions that they have MH problems? Do you really think they truly believe it themselves or do you think they are deliberately trying to defame Mum and to discredit her evidence? Likewise when children are traumatised by removal and abused in care, why do you think we need Public Enquiries to expose the authorities? They are not open and honest and will never admit faults, that’s why!
    It really gets my goat when lawyers and so on give so little credit to parents who have given evidence on this resource. They even bring forth stupid theories like ‘ research suggests that parents tend to invent their own narratives’ to negate them. Or that they are ANGRY ! People are not angry, they are just flabbergasted at the confidence tricks pulled on them. They are entitled to expect fair and impartial decisions made on facts indeed they agree not to call witnesses and put forward their own evidence because their lawyers assure them they will get a fair hearing. Often the decision to remove is made before facts are established ( within ten-minutes of reading the case papers) by lawyers who really should know better. Anyone who wants to know the truth , they should study the FRG discussion forums for a few years like I have. Hundreds of parents come forward quite independently and they all give shockingly similar stories ( such as Friday evening removals and false referrals) and the best the LA’s can come up with is that all these independent families have somehow got together and organised some sort of ‘conspiracy’ to discredit them.
    Until we all accept the truth and admit to faults we won’t get anywhere and this is what I continue to try to get across. When cases are conducted wrongly in any way ,the only remedy is an appeal to a higher court.
    I agree with you completely that we should all work together to improve the system and I have tried to be constructive. However, as I keep saying, even if the system is improved ,it means little if the LA has illegitimate aims. They will just hide the ‘ improved ‘ evidence and refuse to follow the improved procedures. So more radical changes to the legal system are called for. I never shout at professionals either. I try to stick to the grey areas but that doesn’t mean we can duck the truth.

  11. Angelo Granda

    These questions are general ones :-
    Is autism a physiological condition which disables a child and/or a neurological disability? Are melt-downs ( including apparent self-injurious behaviours) caused by sensory overload as a result of autism?

    Or is it a mental illness? If it is ,what mental illness would that be?

    If it is known that an autistic youngster understands everything but cannot communicate his wants and needs properly , can he be claimed to lack capacity and confined under the MENTAL incapacity Act under a Dols application to a residential home ( not a mental hospital) for life? Or does he have to be diagnosed with a mental illness?
    Can a deaf or dumb person who lacks capacity to communicate be so confined for life just because the SW’s claim it is in their best interests?

  12. HelenSparkles

    Dols relates to adults only as far as I am aware, different safeguards apply for children.

    The ability to communicate is not related to capacity. There are ways of communicating with people who does use conventional methods of speech and hearing.

    Autism is not a mental health issue. It is a a lifelong developmental disability. “Meltdowns” are not just caused by sensory overload, they can be caused by a myriad of issues, including anxiety.

  13. Angelo Granda

    Your reply is very much appreciated ,Helen. My reference to DOLS was in relation to ‘youngsters’ of 18 yrs and over. Social workers normally prepare such applications in advance before they actually reach that age.
    I have to agree with you totally. There are ways of communicating with unconventional ,autistic youngsters , deaf and dumb youngsters and so on. If the right people and by that I mean those with experience of the disability concerned are used ,I guess that would be the best course for a Court to take. It’s no use asking an ordinary Doctor or even an ordinary psychiatrist to certify incapacity as they haven’t the relevant experience. This especially applies when the doctor concerned does not even take the time to see and examine the youngster but relies solely on his or her ‘box-file’ ( bozo) judgment when signing an individual’s freedom away. Do you agree with me?
    I agree with you totally also that that autism is not a mental health issue and I am grateful that you confirm it for us. Do you agree it isn’t technically correct ,therefore that a Court should take away a youngster’s liberty under the auspices of the MENTAL capacity ( or is it incapacity) Act?

    I hope you are feeling better and appreciate your answering questions despite the difficult treatment etc. I hope it is soon all finished and you can get back to normal.
    As you know, in the NHS , controversially nurses and doctors are often severely limited in what they can and can’t do by the strict directives issued to them by trust managers and other non-medics. Patients are not cared for optimally as a result and outcomes not always as they would like. As a social worker for many years and as one who was once a manager yourself, do you think the same problem exists in the CS? Particularly are ALL the managers fully-qualified, registered etc. social workers with many years of practical experience at the sharp-end? Or do some LA’s employ managers without the same qualifications you have, possibly ones with more experience of accountancy and managing financial budgets etc?
    This is a big complaint in the NHS and in schools. Is it a problem with the Social Services? As one who has been a manager yourself, you are in a good position to know.

    1. HelenSparkles

      I am not in adult services nor do I work within the service in place for young people who transition to adult services. Assessments of capacity and applications for DoLs are not a simple area. It would be wrong of me to comment without that knowledge base. Those assessments are undertaken by experts and being autistic isn’t on it’s own a reason to assess someone.

      I am not critical of my care under the NHS, quite the opposite. The constraints of a system which needs more funding are obvious in the NHS, schools and CS. Unless everyone wants to pay more tax (& it seems they don’t) public services will have those constraints in place. I’d be quite happy with a government who would fund services more adequately, particularly for the most vulnerable n our society, and ensures support is in place where it is needed. I’d pay more tax. It is often said by political commentators that people here want Scandinavian style services with American tax regime, the two are incompatible.

      As far as I am aware, all managers in CS are qualified and registered social workers, they otherwise couldn’t be operational in a safeguarding role. That they also have to manage a budget has been the case forever. I managed a budget as a manager, it isn’t rocket science, and I’m not an accountant!

  14. looked_after_child

    Link is not working to article above – not sure it was there this am. I will repost in due course


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *