The Education Select Committee has today reported on the care system, with some interesting conclusions. Amongst other findings, the report concluded that too often, the benefit of the doubt is given to parents, causing in prolonged abuse or neglect of children and that overall, there should be more children taken into care.
The report confirmed something which lawyers acting for abused children have known for a number of years; that there is often a failure by the system to intervene soon enough to protect children.
There is a failure to listen to children particularly those between the ages of 14 and 18. If these children were listened to the opportunities to protect them would arise sooner.
Another interesting finding of the Committee is that care is not such a bad option after all.
As a lawyer specialising in abuse claims, I am often required to sue Social Services Departments for failing to intervene and protect children soon enough. A child may be living in a horrendously abusive situation suffering physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Social Services become aware of this and fail to intervene quickly enough; thus prolonging the abuse and causing long term damage to the child.
We often face an argument from the defendants in these cases that if the child had been removed and placed into the care system, the long term prospects would not necessarily have been much better.
It is refreshing to see in the report that this is not necessarily the case and that many children in care do now have a very positive outlook and experience of the care system.
Care may not therefore be the negative option that is sometimes portrayed by defendants.
By Jonathan Bridge, Child Abuse Solicitor