Should parental rights be terminated?

  • This thread forms part of a series of topics on how the State and society as whole treats the most vulnerable.

    Other topics in this series:

    Why aren't the elderly looked after?


    A couple shot their children with a BB gun as a "bizarre and frankly barbaric chastisement" for not doing chores properly, a court has heard.

    The Blackpool pair, who cannot be named for legal reasons, used the weapon on their five children for four months, Preston Crown Court heard.

    Social workers missed signs of danger around a toddler who was stamped to death and focused too much on the condition of the mother who killed her, a serious case review has found.

    Ayeeshia-Jayne Smith was murdered by her mother Kathryn Smith in May 2014.

    The serious case review by the Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board says professionals should have been more "inquisitive".

    Unfortunately, there are many of these sort of stories every week, but these two stories highlight to me, in my opinion, an obvious way in which the State is failing to protect children.

    In some countries on the continent like in France, if some kind of abuse or neglect of children is suspected, it is acted on immediately. Parents are given a chance in some circumstance to mend their ways, but where addiction to drugs and/or alcohol is rife, French authorities act very differently to UK ones. Act, being the key word here.

    Abusive parents in France, where suspicion and evidence of abuse of their kids exist, are called into a tribunal and given a set period of time, say 3 months, to go onto compulsory courses to help them with their addictions and/or programmes to help them modify their violent behaviour. If they do not turn up at these courses and/or they are not successful in modifying their behaviour, French judges immediately terminate parental rights and the children are put up for adoption.

    The thinking in France as well as in some other European countries, is that children should not be exposed to harm for a prolonged period of time and parents should only be given a time limited chance to change their abusive behaviour or lose custody of their children. There is something in French law which states that children are not the property of their parents and this thinking goes to the heart in why French authorities deal with abusive parents so differently to the UK.

    Our system is very different as one group of my neighbours found out. They fostered two young children who at the time were 3 (the girl) and 7 (the boy). Social services told my neighbours that the kids came from a difficult background, but gave no details.

    To cut a long story short, by the time the boy was 16, he was threatening my neighbours with knifes, there was an allegation of rape made against him and my neighbours, after searching his room looking for drugs, found extreme violent pornography and nazi literature.

    His sister was very different and for most of the time she lived with my neighbours, was very calm, but in the last year she lived with my neighbours, she started self-harming.

    Why this case is very different to what happens in France, is that during the entire time these kids were being fostered by my neighbours, their parents saw their kids, sometimes on a weekly basis. After each parental visit, the kids were odd and increasingly became disturbed. My neighbours later found out, that the kids were not being supervised by social services during these visits and found out that drug talking and alcohol was being taken by the parents while "looking" after their kids. Other things were happening as well as my neighbours were to find out...

    Isn't it about time we say that the protection of children comes above that of even the rights of parents to their own kids and subject to judicial oversight, if abusive parents cannot or are unable to change their ways, their parental rights over their children should be permanently terminated?

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