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Monthly Column, June 2005

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Victims of the childsnatchers

A civilised society is one in which an individual has a clearly defined territory of responsibility and freedom, which cannot be curtailed unless he incurs a definite penalty for infringing some prohibition which is clearly stated in advance. We are not living in a civilised society in this country any more, we are living in an oppressive one. One of the indications of this is that children can be taken away, permanently, from their parents, against the will of both the parents and the child, without the parents having broken any law, but simply because it is the opinion (or professed opinion) of some agents of the state that the children are at more than average risk of defective treatment in the future.

The latest case of this kind was revealed in the Daily Mail of Saturday May 7th 2005. The Daily Mail, referred to this as 'the scandalous case of a young couple whose family has been destroyed because their IQs did not satisfy Essex County Council.

Their two children, a girl of four and a one-year-old boy, were taken into care… The parents had not hurt their children or let them go hungry. There was no sign of abuse or cruelty and, sitting in secret, a family court judge told the couple they had done nothing wrong, but still ordered that the children be put up for adoption to give them 'a better life'… The father said: 'They said our little girl wouldn't reach her full potential if she stayed with us.' (from Daily Mail article of Saturday 14 May 2005, article entitled 'Victims of the childsnatchers'.)

The article continues:

… another Essex couple who have lost one of their three children to social services. The father has a full-time, responsible job. The mother has a mild learning disability and cannot read and write but is devoted to her three sons…

The couple… went with their son when he was taken to his new home with foster parents. The father recalls: 'We had to leave him there. He was only eight and was crying for his mum, holding on to her leg. Social services don't know the damage they are doing, ripping kids away from their parents.'

And in both cases, the fathers were accused of being aggressive and told to go on an anger management course. The first father was told by his course tutor when he arrived that he didn't have a problem. The second father has not yet got a date for his course and rolls his eyes at the thought. 'Of course I am angry. They are taking my child away and destroying my family. I don't need classes. I need my son back.'

Another judge said simply: 'It depends how people look at someone with learning difficulties; it's something from which you don't recover.'

It transpires that local authorities are particularly keen on removing children from parents with low IQs. Professor Tim Booth, who recently held the chair in Sociological Studies at Sheffield University, has just completed a two-year investigation into the treatment of parents with learning disabilities when they become embroiled in care proceedings. His findings are a damning indictment of the system.

In his report, Professor Booth raises the spectre of widespread discrimination against parents with learning disabilities by social services and the family court system. He and his co-author, Wendy Booth, looked at a total of 437 care proceedings in Sheffield and Leeds and the figures tell their own story:

· Fifteen per cent of all local authority care applications involve a parent with learning difficulties

· Another 5 per cent of applications involve a parent with borderline learning difficulties

· Parents with learning difficulties and their children feature in care applications up to 50 times more often than would be expected from their numbers in the population

· 75 per cent of children with parents with learning disabilities were taken away from the family

· Two in every five of these children were put up for adoption

· The children of parents with learning difficulties were significantly more likely to be the subjects of such adoption orders than were the children of other parents. (Ibid.)

There are plenty of careless and irresponsible parents around, and the while the risk of accidents etc. may be about average in low IQ homes, there are plenty of sections of the population (even if I would not wish to suggest what their defining characteristics might be) in which the risk is greater still. The idea is not liked that IQ and other characteristics, such as a sense of responsibility or forethought, may be inherited. But suppose it is, and suppose the social services believe that it is.

The children of low IQ parents are likely themselves to have low IQs, and they are being treated like an endangered species, which must be removed from the family nest and carefully brought to breeding age under careful supervision, before being released into the wild to contribute to the breeding population of their species. This programme may already be having some effect on the situation. Phillippa Russell, the Commissioner for Disability Rights, is quoted as saying: ' … there are far more people with learning disabilities living in the community now, having ordinary relationships and having children'.

Meanwhile, the hated 'middle class', which is likely to be endowed with above average IQ, forethought, etc. in a society which is heavily geared against them, is already contributing proportionately less to the breeding populations of the future. The trend to smaller middle class families looks set to continue, as, under the influence of debts incurred in paying for university courses and rising taxes on property, apart from other factors, their sense of responsibility and forethought lead them to put off starting their families until an ever later age, and to curtail their numbers on account (among other things) of their wish to provide adequately for their education.

Celia Green
June 2005