Monday, September 05, 2011
Evil Scottish social workers want to take young children away from their loving parents
Parents of seven told: Your children are too fat, so you will never see them again. I imagine, however that the "right to a family life" in the Human Rights act will eventually thwart the Fascists
Four obese children are on the brink of being permanently removed from their family by social workers after their parents failed to bring their weight under control.
In the first case of its kind, their mother and father now face what they call the ‘unbearable’ likelihood of never seeing them again.
Their three daughters, aged 11, seven and one, and five-year-old son, will either be ‘fostered without contact’ or adopted.
Either way, the family’s only hope of being reunited will be if the children attempt to track down their parents when they become adults.
The couple, who have been married for nearly 20 years and are not being named to protect their children’s identities, were given a ‘draconian’ ultimatum three years ago – as reported at the time by The Mail on Sunday.
Warned that the children must slim or be placed in care, the family spent two years living in a council-funded ‘Big Brother’ house in which they were constantly supervised and the food they ate monitored.
But despite subjecting them to intense scrutiny, social workers did not impose rules on what food the children should eat, and there was apparently little or no improvement.
News of the decision to remove them was broken to the couple, from Dundee, on Tuesday. Critics called it a disgraceful breach of human rights and a chilling example of the power of the State to meddle in family life.
In an emotional interview, the 42-year-old mother said: ‘We might not be the perfect parents, but we love our children with all our hearts. To face a future where we will never see them again is unbearable.
‘They picked on us because of our size to start with and they just haven’t let go, despite the fact we’ve done everything to lose weight and meet their demands. We’re going to fight this to the bitter end. It feels like even prisoners have more human rights than we do.’
The couple have not committed any crime and are not accused of deliberate cruelty or abuse. Their solicitor, Joe Myles, said there was ‘nothing sinister lurking in the background’ and accused social workers of failing to act in the family’s best interests.
‘Dundee social services department appear to have locked horns with this couple and won’t let go,’ he said, adding that the monitoring project caused more problems than it solved. ‘The parents were constantly being accused of bad parenting and made to live under a microscope.
We have tried very hard to do everything that was asked of us. My wife has cooked healthy foods like home-made spaghetti bolognese and mince and potatoes; but nothing we’ve done has ever been enough.
The couple have three older children who are all distraught and angry at the ruling.
Speaking through tears, their 15-year-old daughter said: ‘The social workers should hang their heads in shame. A person’s weight is their own business and only we can do anything about it, not them. My parents are good people and they love us all. The four little ones don’t know what is about to happen to them.’
Social workers became aware of the family in early 2008 after one of the sons accused his father of hitting him on the forehead. In truth, he had fallen and hit his head on a radiator – a fact he later admitted. However, the allegation opened the door to the obesity investigation.
While the couple admit experiencing what their lawyer calls ‘low grade’ parenting problems, which would have merited support, they were aghast when the issue of weight was seized on as a major concern.
A council report at the time said: ‘With the exception of [one of the names], the children are all overweight. Advice has been given regarding diet but there has been no improvement. Appointments with the dietician have been missed.’
At that point their then 12-year-old son weighed 16 stone; his 11-year-old sister weighed 12 stone; and his three-year-old sister weighed four stone. It is not known how much the four younger children weigh now.
The couple were ordered to send their children to dance and football lessons and were given a three-month deadline to bring down their weight. When that failed, the children were placed in foster homes but were allowed to visit their parents.
After the couple objected to this arrangement, the council agreed to move them into a two-bedroom flat in a supported unit run by the Dundee Families Project. They insisted on the couple living with only three of their children at a time.
At meal times, a social worker stood in the room taking notes. Doctors raised concerns that the children put on weight whenever they spent time with their parents, a claim they vehemently denied.
The couple and their children also had to adhere to a strict 11pm curfew. This involved ‘clocking’ in and out by filling in a sheet held by an employee who lived on site.
Although the children’s weight was the major concern, other allegations were included in a report. It showed that social workers were worried when the youngest child was found crawling unsupervised. The parents point out they were never far away and the flat had no stairs.
They also found her ‘attempting to put dangerous objects’ in her mouth. The family say this is natural in toddlers and she was never successful.
To have a social worker stand and watch you eat is intolerable. I want other families to know what can happen once social workers become involved. We will fight them to the end to get our beloved children back.
Social workers were further worried when she crawled through the contents of an upturned ashtray – an ‘unfortunate one-off incident’, claim the parents. All the concerns were dismissed by the family’s legal team as ‘low grade’ problems.
It is understood the father crumbled under the strain of being so closely monitored in January this year and moved into a council flat elsewhere in the city.
In the next few months, the mother breached the lunch and dinner meal observations, by her own admission, on ‘several’ occasions while taking the children to see their father.
She personally never broke the 11pm curfew but once allowed her seven-year-old daughter to remain at her father’s flat after she fell asleep. She did not want to disturb her and argued the child had ‘two parents, not one’ and was in ‘good hands’.
These breaches led staff to declare the trial a failure and the mother was asked to leave the unit in April this year. She moved in to her husband’s flat but the children were then handed over to foster parents.
Her solicitor said he planned to use independent experts to prove that the children want to live with their parents and have been damaged by the social workers’ intervention. He added: ‘We may ultimately look towards human rights laws.’
The father, aged 56, said: ‘We have tried very hard to do everything that was asked of us. My wife has cooked healthy foods like home-made spaghetti bolognese and mince and potatoes; we’ve cut out snacks and only ever allowed the kids sweets on a Saturday. But nothing we’ve done has ever been enough.
‘The pressure of living in the family unit would have broken anyone. We were being treated like children and cut off from the outside world. To have a social worker stand and watch you eat is intolerable. I want other families to know what can happen once social workers become involved. We will fight them to the end to get our beloved children back.’
It is estimated 26 million British adults will be obese by 2030, with obesity levels running at an all-time high among children. Official statistics show those who are overweight spend 50 per cent more time in hospital, placing extra strain on the NHS.
Tam Fry, honorary chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, said: ‘This is a disgrace. These parents have clearly attempted to comply. They have, if you like, played Dundee City Council’s game and yet they are still losing their children.’
Dundee City Council said: ‘The council always acts in the best interests of children, with their welfare and safety in mind.’
Christian group ditched by British charity... for offering to pray for debt victims
A Christian organisation has been ditched by a national charity for offering to pray for people with debt problems.
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) has been forced to leave AdviceUK, an umbrella group representing the interests of thousands of advice workers, after it was judged that praying was ‘incompatible’ with membership.
The decision was described by campaigners yesterday as an ‘extraordinary curtailment of freedom of expression’. It follows a series of similar cases involving Christians who claim their freedoms have been curbed following the introduction of controversial equality laws.
She added that anyone seeking help from a group with ‘Christian’ in its title would not be surprised by an offer of prayer from a counsellor.
Yesterday, Steve Johnson, chief executive of AdviceUK, described the offer of prayer by CAP as an ‘emotional fee’. Asked to explain what he meant, Mr Johnson replied that CAP was effectively expecting clients to ‘pay’ for their advice by agreeing to pray with the counsellors. ‘Advisers must not offer or impose their values,’ he added.
CAP has been a member of AdviceUK for six years and says it has never made prayer a condition of its free service.
In a statement, it said: ‘While CAP is committed to providing impartial help and advice to all members of society, as an expression of our care for clients we do offer to pray with people. 'This adds to the chilling notion that there is something wrong, something sinister, about being motivated by faith.'
‘In discussions around ethos and purpose, AdviceUK made it clear that they saw any form of promotion of faith to be incompatible with membership criteria.
‘In order to protect the integrity of both organisations, it was amicably agreed that CAP would not continue to be an AdviceUK member.’
CAP said that its counselling service would be unaffected by AdviceUK’s decision. A spokeswoman added: ‘Given the right support, people can and will pay off what they owe.
‘We help people in debt regardless of age, gender, faith or background. In our most recent questionnaire of more than 1,000 clients, 88 per cent said that prayer was appreciated or OK.’
AdviceUK, which has 870 member organisations, boasts of being ‘in a unique position to influence Government departments and other bodies’. It says it ‘provides a voice to funders and supporters’.
In April, The Mail on Sunday revealed how electrician Colin Atkinson was threatened with the sack for displaying a Cross in his work van.
And last year nurse Shirley Chaplin took the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust Hospital to an employment tribunal after she was ordered to remove her crucifix at work.
Didn't get the job? Blame 'lookism', as discrimination against the ugly 'is the new racism'
I knew this had to come
Some might consider it an ugly truth that attractive people are often more successful than those less blessed with looks. But now our appearance is emerging in legal disputes as a new kind of discrimination. ‘Lookism’, it is claimed, is the new racism, and should be banished from civilised societies.
It is currently the subject of several court actions in America, and some experts say similar cases should be considered here too.
Economist Daniel Hamermesh argues that ugliness is no different from race or a disability, and suggests unattractive people deserve legal protection. ‘My research shows being good-looking helps you earn more money, find a higher-earning spouse and even get better deals on mortgages,’ he said.
‘Some people are born ugly and there’s not much they can do about it. You’re pretty much stuck with your looks. ‘Logically there’s no less reason to protect the ugly than the disabled, African Americans, other racial minorities or religious minorities, as we do. We could even have affirmative action for the ugly.’
But Lawrence Davies, of the Equal Justice law firm, believes we should be wary of amending current equality laws. ‘People who appear to be conventionally beautiful have fewer barriers to workplace success,’ he said. ‘However, protecting conventionally ugly people or offensively linking that condition to a disability would take society in the wrong direction.’
The issue has been highlighted by the case of Shirley Ivey, 61, who is suing her former employer in Washington for ‘lookism’. She left her job at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory affairs suffering from stress after allegedly being told by a supervisor that he would like her more if she was prettier.
Sex offenders paid to baby-sit
Illinois program subsidizing child care for poor families allows violent felons access to children
Cornelius Osborne may not seem like baby-sitting material. He was convicted of raping two women. A succession of felonies, from robbery to failing to register as a sex offender, repeatedly sent him to prison, state records show.
But over more than two years, the state paid Osborne nearly $5,000 to baby-sit two children, before his latest conviction — for dealing drugs — put him back behind bars.
Osborne, of Chicago, wasn't the only sex offender paid by taxpayers to baby-sit, according to a Tribune investigation that found cases of convicted rapists, molesters and other violent felons given access to children over the past decade. The money comes from a $750 million-a-year program that subsidizes child care for more than 150,000 impoverished Illinois families.
The state Department of Human Services poorly vetted baby sitters for years — and when a 2009 law forced better checks, it took nearly 18 months to start them, the newspaper's investigation of the Child Care Assistance Program found.
Also, despite the reforms, the Tribune found that even now the state lacks safeguards to weed out baby sitters who watch children while living in the homes of sex offenders and other felons deemed too dangerous. Based on those findings, the state is vowing further reforms.
It's nearly impossible to determine just how many of the illegal baby-sitting arrangements the state has allowed. The newspaper found no cases where children were harmed, although privacy laws shield data needed to do an in-depth study.
Still, the Tribune's findings are frustrating to Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine, who pushed for the reforms mandating better checks to weed out illegal arrangements.
"You're talking about not only the state sanctioning, but the state creating, an economic incentive for someone with a criminal record to be in a room with a kid," Murphy said. "That's frankly not a situation that I find acceptable."
Advocates such as Maria Whelan insist that the vast majority of baby sitters are aboveboard and that the 14-year-old federal-state program is key to helping parents work their way out of poverty. About half of the subsidies are in Cook County, where they are administered by the nonprofit Illinois Action for Children run by Whelan.
"This is a program that is absolutely essential if we are going to, with a straight face, tell families that if they work and if they continue to develop themselves, we can help them make a difference for their families," she said.
Program administrators have gotten national recognition for weeding out parents who don't qualify for the subsidies. But records show they've struggled for years to weed out disqualified baby sitters, such as Osborne.
The honor system
All it took for Osborne was a 2004 application mailed with the help of his sister, whose two children he would be paid to watch in her Englewood apartment.
She was able to pick the baby sitter, and she told the Tribune she didn't worry about her brother hurting the kids. But she did worry the state would object.
"I thought he would be rejected," she said, "but they didn't. I never got a call. They never asked about it."
They should have. The program has long barred those convicted of sex crimes and the most violent felonies. But Osborne wasn't spotted because of how the form was filled out. It asked him if he had been convicted of any crimes and, if so, which ones. His response showed "drug trafficking" — a crime that at the time didn't disqualify him.
He didn't mention the prison stints for rape, robbery and kidnapping, which would have.
And there's no record anyone checked further.
At the time, the state trusted Osborne and tens of thousands of other applicants to be honest.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.