NZ not the only country with CYFS issues

This story (via Family First) is headlined as a smacking issue, but it’s much more than that.

It shows just how easily good parents can get persecuted by law enforcement if the right sort of complaint is made, no matter how ludicrous.

Incredibly, we were also told Guy was going to stay with this other family despite the fact that they had not been subject to any Criminal Record Bureau checks and had no foster-parenting experience.

There was not even any Emergency Protection Order (EPO) in place – required before your children can be subject to local authority care.

I felt our family was fragmenting before our eyes.

Knowing you cannot go near your child and have lost all sense of control is agony. But I was determined to hold it together.

Both boys stayed the night with this family and the next morning I tried frantically to contact Social Services.

Eventually a social worker called us and said: “You’re not allowed to see Guy this weekend. We will be reviewing the situation after the bank holiday.”


On Tuesday, we went to our solicitor Nick Turner and began to kick up merry hell with Social Services.

We warned them that because they had no EPO they had no right to dictate where Guy went and we would see them in court.

Rather than apologise, they told us: “We will be interviewing your children whether you like it or not.

“You are under investigation for child abuse. Stay away from Guy.”

Just as we were about to leave to go to court, the police arrived and placed us under arrest on suspicion of child abuse.

…Eventually, on Friday evening, I was led into a tiny interview room where two stern-faced female detectives lay in wait.

Initially I felt scared but then an overwhelming sense of outrage swept over me.

“Why did you smack Guy’s bottom?” demanded one of the officers.

“Surely you know this is abuse? Why have you not fed him properly?”

“This is ridiculous,” I said. “My son is not emaciated and smacking is only used as a last resort.

“As far as I know, reasonable chastisement is still legal in this country.”

Later that night we were released on bail but warned we faced further investigation.

Indeed, as we walked away from the police station, a social worker appeared and warned us we still could not see Guy except under supervision for two hours a week.

In the meantime they were going to assess us as parents. That was the first time I had ever heard my husband tell someone to “F*** off”.

By the time we arrived home we were dishevelled, filthy and on the edge of hysteria.

But thankfully there was some good news: the judge had thrown out Social Services’ case because officials did not have a leg to stand on.

My brother-in-law had contacted them after the ruling and said: “We are collecting Guy and there is nothing you can do about it.”

Guy had been away from our house for seven nights and was getting very concerned.

The enormity of what he and Oliver had done had long since sunk in.

Meanwhile, Folke and I had yet more meetings to attend.

First was a child protection meeting in Worcester.

Moments before we went in, the supposedly independent chairman told me Rosalind Hayes, the headteacher at Malvern St James, was going to be there and that he had already told her I should be suspended due to the seriousness of the allegations.

Over the next three hours, Folke and I faced a barrage of accusations.

“Why does Guy have no furniture in his bedroom?” we were asked.

This was easy enough to explain. It was obvious, even from a cursory examination, that we were in the middle of refurbishing our Victorian house. The floorboards were being stripped, ready to be varnished.

But the accusations became more and more ridiculous.

“Why are you starving them and depriving them of toys?”

We explained that both allegations were nonsense. The “starvation” claim stemmed from the fact that Guy had been putting on too much weight, so when he demanded snacks between meals I’d sometimes say no.

As for depriving the boys of toys, Oliver and Guy have a Nintendo DS, a Sony PlayStation and a computer.

Like many parents, however, I would not let them vegetate in front of a screen all day.

Our explanations to the panel made not the slightest difference – we were told Harriet and Guy would be placed on the Child Protection Register.

Their conclusion outlines the critical issues.

But we are determined to take action against the police and Social Services, not just for ourselves, but on behalf of other parents who are being hounded in a similar fashion.

Parents need to have the power to set boundaries for their children.

Without discipline in the home, children grow up with no sense of right and wrong.

Folke and I adore our children and try to avoid smacking at all costs. But we would not hesitate to do the same again.

If our battle helps to restore the power of discipline to parents – not to mention teachers and police on the beat – then some good will have emerged from this terrible ordeal.

And that is the problem in Britian, and the issue here even more after the Section 59 repeal. Parents are required under law to look after children, see to their welfare, but are expected to do this with state authorities seeking to remove more and more authority from them at ever turn.

1 comment

  1. On the face of it, this tale is truly horrifying.

    We have our own cases here. For example, people who should know better have tried to vilify the mother in the “riding crop case” as the political raison d’etre behind s59.

    The key facts of the case remain indisputable: a court found the parents not guilty, and yet CYFS ignored the court findings and removed the child anyway. The power to ignore the courts and not be publicly accountable is very scary. It’s not a NZ I want to see.

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