Saturday, June 25, 2005

They Could be Coming to Get You

It is the sad case that many a Home Educator wakes up in a cold sweat in the early hours of the morning, convinced that the powers-that-be are after them and their children. The sad thing is: they aren't necessarily wrong.

And is not just Home Educators who run this risk; every single family in Britain should be holding onto their children as well as their hats, for their is no telling where the arbitrary judgement of the law, aided and abetted by the psychiatry profession, will aim it's terrifyingly unreliable scatter gun techniques.

A recent article in the The Spectator, which dealt with the subject of a child being forcibly removed from her mother at the behest of the family courts and irretrievably adopted by another family, serves as yet another reminder of the gross injustices and their arbitrary nature, that are being routinely perpetuated in the UK today.

It is the case that children can be removed from their families on the evidence of just one psychiatrist in the family court. Now, all you sane readers out there will know that psychiatry, for all it's pretensions to the contrary, is not a science. It cannot be relied on to provide a reliable semblance of the truth, for the theories it provides are not falsifiable; eg: any one manifestation of behaviour could be interpreted as being caused by any number of different sorts of possible incidents and there is no way that one could disprove any of this. In the story cited by the Spectator, there was complete disagreement between the two psychiatrists who had interviewed the family, one of whom was of the firm conviction that the child was thriving in her natural family. This didn't seem to bother the courts, however.

To compound the problem of the credulity of courts and the power of often deeply unprofessional and questionably motivated psychiatrists and paediatricians (cf: Prof. Southall), there is the added and very serious problem that these particular courts are closed: press coverage is not permitted; there is no possibility of external scrutiny or peer review. These guys can get away with any sort of rubbish and slander. Worse still, the standard of proof required in the family courts is much lower than in the criminal courts - cases do not have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

There was a programme "30 Minutes" on Channel 4 in June 2004 on a similar subject. I wrote this then, and it seems little has changed in the intervening time:

In the programme, the journalist, Dea Birkett, interviewed a number of families who have been falsely accused of abusing their children, some of whom have had their children forcibly removed through the family courts.

One woman came very close to permanently losing her 3 children after visiting the vet. Some of her dogs had died under mysterious circumstances and the vet took it upon himself to refer the family to a paediatrician. The doctor, Prof. Southall, pronounced the loss of the dogs through suspicious circumstances to be a typical result of the behaviour of a sufferer of Munchausen's by Proxy. This mother was also apparently damned by the fact that she was slightly overweight (which according to this professional is typical of the syndrome). During this whole process, the children were fostered out to other families. Just as this woman was about to lose her children for good, it emerged that her ex-husband had poisoned the dogs.

This family was lucky. There are plenty of other innocent families who have actually lost their children into the care system. Ms. Birkett emphasised how this sort of thing can happen to absolutely anyone and that it seems as if there is an element of post code lottery about it all. Some Health Authorities have an enormously high number of children on their at-risk registers whilst just over the border there are hardly any on the equivalent list.

Ms Birkett also interviewed Prof. Southall (the now notorious paediatrician) who seemed almost not to acknowledge the possibility of false positives, being predominantly concerned with false negatives. When questioned directly on the issue of false accusations, he seemed to regard it as an utterly trivial problem. This man needs his head seeing to. He is destroying public trust in the Health services. People are now right not to trust their doctors any more. How can the Prof. not see that this will significantly increase problems everywhere? Far better to have a trusted and unsupported GP tactfully helping families before they reach total crisis than someone picking up the bodies of disaffected, distrusting, secretive families who haven't dared to seek help earlier. The implications of the actions of this man and his ilk must be thought through much more carefully.

One lawyer for some seemingly falsely accused families said that false accusations and removal of children represents one of the gravest injustices in Britain today. I fervently agree and hope the publicity about the issue will force the government to take stronger action than they have already. These injustices MUST be stopped.

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