Baby choked to death

2008-07-22 0 comments

The British tourist arrested in Crete for allegedly choking her baby to death moments after giving birth has been named.

Leah Andrews is said to have gone into labour in her hotel room after a night out drinking.

When her older sister and her friend arrived back at the room they were sharing at about 5am yesterday, they reportedly found her trying to clean up the blood.

The 20-year-old was using a sheet with the baby's body inside as a makeshift mop to wipe down the floor and furniture, a police source said.

'The sister and friend saw a sheet with something inside it but they did not open it. They called the police.

'The police came with an ambulance. They opened the sheet and they found the baby,' the source added.

Coroner Manolis Mihalodimitrakis said: 'When the baby was born, it was alive and breathing. After that, someone killed it violently.'

Andrews is under police guard in hospital in the Greek island capital of Heraklion, where she is being treated for heavy blood loss.

She has been told she will be charged with killing her newborn child when her condition improves sufficiently, according to British diplomats.

Police sources said the woman kept her pregnancy a secret from her friends despite expecting a baby within weeks.

The Londoner is said to have two other children who were not on holiday with her. A Foreign Office spokesman said: 'We can confirm a British national has been detained and will be charged with the murder of her baby in Malia, Crete. We are providing consular assistance.'

Under Greek law, infanticide is punishable by up to 20 years in jail.

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Safeguarding Children report

2008-07-20 0 comments

The third Safeguarding Children report from the joint chief inspectors was published on 8 July 2008. The report is published every three years under the direction of the eight agencies inspecting prisons, care homes and other institutions involved in child protection. It seeks to assess

* the effectiveness of the overall safeguarding systems and frameworks that are in place
* the wider safeguarding role of public services
* the targeted activity carried out to safeguard vulnerable groups of children. This includes updated evidence on the groups considered in the previous report, including asylum-seeking children, children in secure settings, looked after children and children treated by health services
* the identification of and response to child protection concerns by relevant agencies.

This report found that improvements have been made across a range of objectives but there are still areas of concern. For example, wIth regards to looked after children, they found that 1 in 10 children’s homes and fostering services are not adequately keeping children in their care safe. The inspectors also found that the choice of placement remains limited for most children and some children feel it is hard to influence decisions that involve them. With regard to secure accommodation, it found that the use of restraint was not being recorded or assessed properly and the inspectors made several recommendations for how these issues could be addressed.

The full report can be down loaded here

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Britain faces an investigation by Europe


Europe to begin investigation of secrecy in family courts. This is brilliant news. Hopefully this will be the start of our children and families finally seeing protection placed exactly where it is needed.

Britain faces an investigation by Europe into secrecy in family courts, amid growing political pressure to overhaul the system.

The Council of Europe has stepped in after allegations that gagging laws designed to protect the rights of children are allowing miscarriages of justice and children to be removed unnecessarily from their parents.

The Times has been running a series of articles this week about the consequences of the system that keeps reporters and the public out of many family court hearings and obstructs people from seeing evidence against them or obtaining copies of judgments. Opponents of the system say that judges can be too ready to side with social workers and experts who want a child removed but whose evidence is rarely made public.

Family courts in England and Wales hear 400,000 cases a year, mostly divorces and child custody cases. In about 20,000 cases a year, however, local councils apply to remove children from parents on the ground that parents are abusive or neglectful.

The council's investigation was initiated by Paul Rowen, the Liberal Democrat MP who is one of Britain's representatives, and will begin in September. It could involve hearings by a committee that will take evidence and be able to visit courts.

It will come at a critical time for campaigners who are fighting to open up the system. The Government has promised to respond to a long-delayed consultation after the summer.

Three years ago the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee said that greater transparency was required and restrictions on the discussion of their cases by parents should be removed entirely.

Moves to open the courts up were quashed by Lord Falconer of Thoroton in one of his final acts as Lord Chancellor in June 2007. He stated that a survey of 200 children had shown that many would be anxious about the presence of the press in the family courts. You can read the full article here

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Soham recommendations not implemented


The murder of ten year olds Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells in August 2002 prompted one of the largest missing person investigations in British history. Few will forget the image of two best friends wearing matching Manchester United shirts or the thirteen days spent hoping upon hope that these girls would turn up safe and well. With the news that the bodies of Jessica and Holly had been found came the how and why.
The answers shocked the country. An inquiry later revealed that there were many lessons to be learnt from the Soham murders.

School caretaker Ian Huntley, 31, received two life terms for the murder of Jessica and Holly. After sentencing it emerged

# Nine allegations of rape, indecent assault on an 11-year-old girl and sex with underage girls while Huntley was living in Grimsby were not shared between Humberside and Cambridge forces
# No record of Huntley's past had been retained by Humberside Police, even though he was charged in one of the rape cases before it was later dropped.

# Huntley had confessed to having sex with one underage girl in 1995 but was not charged or cautioned because she did not want to prosecute.

He could have been cautioned though. And if he had, his name would have been on the national database for at least five years.

# Huntley's name was, however, logged on Humberside Police's own local computer system. In 1999 PC Michael Harding wrote a file on him, saying he was clearly a "serial sex attacker".
But the report was deleted during a review of the database a few months before Huntley applied for the job at Soham Village College.

# Chief Constable David Westwood conceded their intelligence system had "failed almost completely" and admitted he had been wrong to blame the Data Protection Act for the vetting process.

# The force also failed to update Police National Computer (PNC) records to include Huntley's alias surname of Nixon, so the response to any checks would have been "no trace".

They had twice been told Huntley and Nixon were the same person.

# Staff responsible for vetting job applicants such as Huntley were not able to access a database with information about sex offences and children.
Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Police Tom Lloyd said his officers had not vetted Ian Huntley properly and its systems contained "weaknesses".

Two specific human errors were also made during the vetting process.

One staff member entered Huntley's date of birth incorrectly into the Child Access database, while another only looked on the national database under Huntley's alias surname Nixon.

Head teacher of Soham Village College Howard Gilbert said he did not follow up any of the five references Huntley provided at his interview, two of which were undated and three of which were almost 18 months old.
The director of a firm doing background checks for the Local Education Authority said she ticked the police check forms to say she had verified Huntley's personal details, when she had not done so.
# A senior social worker failed to link three underage sex allegations made against Huntley within one month in 1996.

Phil Watters investigated each case, and also failed to connect them with an earlier incident in which Huntley admitted sleeping with a 15-year-old girl.

# Mr Watters also admitted a letter from a local deputy head teacher raising concerns about Huntley had not been passed on to police.

# Deputy director of the council's child care department Martin Eaden said he thought the social services' handling of one specific allegation of underage sex was "totally inadequate in every sense".

The case was closed without the girl having been seen, her whereabouts established or her welfare assured.

in August 2002, a report by Sir Michael Bichard made 31 recommendations to the police, Home Office, Courts Service and other bodies. The proposals were part of a package of measures to make greater use of technology to monitor known dangerous people. Six years later and nine of the 31 safety measures needed to protect our most vulnerable have still not been implemented. A package was put together to make a solid structure. Together they form a connection but it only takes one missing link for a structure to collapse.
Time may have passed but the memory of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells hasn't. Didn't their death mean anything.

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Slave trade Britian

2008-07-12 0 comments

Is this what we in the UK regard as justice. 14 years old and smuggled into a strange country. No schooling. No friends. Just a life of slavery. Forced to wear a T-shirt with the words “My other name is bitch.” emblazoned across it.

The unnamed girl suffered till she was driven to the brink of suicide. Now 17 years old, I wonder how she and her loved ones feel after hearing yesterdays verdict. Samuel Quainoo was jailed for 18 months while wife Ernestina had her one-year sentence suspended because she has young children.

Quainoo an accountant and Ernestina a teacher pretended the girl was their daughter to get a visa but insisted the girl was 18 and brought from Ghana with the blessing of her mum. Both pleaded guilty to trafficking. Judge Jonathan Lowen told London’s Isleworth Crown Court the defendants were lying and the girl’s 2004 entry “was carefully planned”.
You exploited the illegality of her life here. You abused the trust she placed in you.
This was utter exploitation. She was entirely subservient to your will.

Their guilt was clear so I have to ask, the question, WHY wasn't this child's suffering reflected in the sentences. I am sure if a 14year old British child was smuggled out of the country and abused and exploited for two years the offenders would get far more than a suspended sentence or 18months in jail.

Trafficking is a huge problem and the UK needs to start seeing it for what it is. It is the abuse and exploitation of children and the most vulnerable and should be punished as such. Denying we have a problem and treating trafficking as an illegal entry problem is just going to create more victims and bigger profits. News article

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Fathers 4 Justice

2008-07-11 0 comments

Fathers in protest at Harman home - Birmingham Mail
Two Fathers 4 Justice protesters dressed as Spider-Man and Batman have scaled the roof of deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman's home.

The two men said they will not come down until the Government "takes them seriously".

The men said their names were Nigel Ace, 40, who was dressed as Spider-Man, and Tony Ashby, 42, in the Batman costume. They said they had enough food supplies to last for a week.

Mr Ace, who described himself as a sales manager from Bristol, said the stunt was provoked by Ms Harman's recent pledge to ensure equality in the workforce.

He said: "What about dads? We haven't got equality. The Government is ignoring us and has a feminist agenda. We want Harriet Harman to come back here and engage in a debate with us and, if not, then Gordon Brown should come. I am trained in survival, so I don't care how long we are up here."

Mr Ashby, who described himself as a painter and decorator from Leicester, said he had not seen his children for seven years.

He said: "We have been up here since 6am and we are in for the long haul. We don't want to cause trouble, we just want to get our message across."

The protest comes as Ms Harman is due to stand in for Gordon Brown in Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons while he attends the G8 summit in Japan. She left her home in Herne Hill, south London, at 7.45am and ignored the protesters, who draped a flag on her wall saying "Stop the war on dads".

The men said they had not been involved in any previous stunts and drew straws to decide who would stage the protest.

The demonstration is the second time in little over a month that Fathers 4 Justice has staged a protest at Ms Harman's home.

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Kamran Rose 15 months


Kamran Rose 15 months died of appalling injuries on May 10th 2007. Nicholas Kirnon, who had been looking after him battered the toddler to death in an “explosive rage”. Kirnon from Birmingham was jailed today for life with a recommendation he serve a minimum of 17 years.

Mr Justice Butterfield, said: “This is a tragic case. No sentence of mine can reflect the value of the life of little Kamran". Det Insp David Wallbank later referred to the injuries suffered by the little boy and said: “I was present at the hospital and the post-mortem and I have never seen anything before coming close to it. “This was someone trusted to look after him, that is the terrible thing about it.” Of Kirnon, he said: “That sums it up. That is what he was like at the hospital, a man with an explosive and violent temper that he was prepared to use on a 15-month-old toddler. Birmingham Evening Mail

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Khyra Ishaq


The mother and stepfather of a seven-year-old girl who allegedly starved to death have been charged with five counts of cruelty to children.

Khyra Ishaq was found dead at her family home in Birmingham where she lived with her five siblings. Angela Gordon, 33, and Junaid Abuhamza, 29, of Handsworth, were already charged with "causing or allowing" her death.

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Adoption IS Wrong

2008-07-05 5 comments

If any one wants to argue the case for how wonderful adoption is I beg you to read Adoption Undone by Karen Carr. I read this story through a haze of tears and choked with anger. When Karen and Jon Carr adopted four-year-old Lucy as a sister for their six-year-old birth daughter Hannah, they though they'd completed their happy family. But the adoption was fraught with difficulty, and the turmoil that followed brought the whole family to breaking point, forcing Karen and Jon to do the unthinkable.

Once we'd made the decision, we were very excited. We would have a new family, and a sister for Hannah. We'd always wanted another child, a playmate, but by the time we got round to doing anything about it Hannah was six, which we felt was too big an age gap. By adopting, we'd be able to choose a girl just a couple of years younger to be her sister. We thought that, with love, everything would fall into place. We'd just returned from holiday in 1999 when Valerie, the social worker who'd assessed us for adoption, contacted us to say that a child had been identified who matched our hopes: a little girl called Lucy, aged four. Within days, Lucy's social workers were sitting in our living room, drinking tea and discussing her history. We were shown a photo of her aged two, and saw a video of her around the same age. They said she was a bright child and that our situation was ideal because our family replicated her two previous homes, with Lucy being the younger of two sisters. (Lucy had been living with a foster sister, Shahida, who was two years older than her, and she also had an older birth sister, Jade.) We had no reason to doubt this logic. From then on, the introductions had to be done in haste, as her foster carer, Tracy, was being admitted to hospital and the social workers didn't want Lucy going to a new carer for just a few weeks. Instead of the usual fortnight introductory period for adoptions, we were given two days in which to meet and bond with Lucy. Tracy had said that Lucy wouldn't be particularly bothered by the move; she'd walk away without a backward glance. It amazes me now that this wasn't considered a problem. So we met Lucy on the Friday, took her for a picnic on Saturday and on Sunday she came to stay for good. That was it! We didn't know any of her routines, likes or dislikes. It was a huge disruption for her with very little preparation: she'd only been told two days before that a 'new mummy and daddy' had been found for her.
Both Jon and I went into the adoption assuming it would work. We both wanted it 100 per cent. And at the start, Lucy and Hannah seemed to build up a good relationship and would play outdoors together. Things were slightly difficult for Hannah, though, because Lucy felt allegiances to her sister Jade, with whom she still had face-to-face contact, and Hannah felt she was being shut out. Lucy was supposed to meet Jade about five times a year, but if she mentioned she was missing her we'd arrange it – she was her sister, after all.
'When I told Lucy that she had to move out, she just wanted to know when and counted the days on her fingers, "Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday"'
From the start, Lucy was a very demanding child and craved my attention, always wanting to sit on my knee. She was also loud. Day in, day out, it was draining. But what became apparent quite early on was that Lucy and Jon weren't bonding. Their relationship was distant. If we went for a walk, Lucy would always hold my hand, determined to be next to me. Hannah felt sorry for her dad because he was being left out, so she'd take his hand and they'd walk ahead. I'd tell him that he shouldn't let this happen as it just encouraged Lucy's clinginess.
It got to the stage where every night we were arguing about Lucy's behaviour and his reaction to it. After she'd been with us about six months, I rang the social worker for advice about the distance between Jon and Lucy. She said, 'Well, she can't stay there if she's not bonding with one of the parents.' But I was determined to make things work so I reassured her and said, 'Oh, it's OK. I'll make sure she's fine.' So it was left at that.
Lucy had some funny habits. She insisted on wearing short socks all the time, and would put dozens of slides and pony tails in her hair in the morning. It was a constant battle to get her to look more acceptable for school. One day I was trying to negotiate with her, and Jon said, 'You look stupid, Lucy! Take them out!' That evening, I blew up at him, saying that he made things worse by talking like that. He'd sometimes call her a 'nuisance'. He was never cruel to her, but offhand and sharper than with Hannah.
Of course, I didn't help matters by not disciplining Lucy enough. Even when it was her own fault that she fell out with Hannah, Lucy was the one who would end up on my knee. I just felt sorry for her. Jon and I spent hours discussing her, but the arguments were getting worse so, at the end of 1999, we sought support from a charity called After Adoption.
They recommended 're-nurturing' to build an attachment. This meant simulating experiences that occur naturally in birth parent and infant relationships. For example, tightly wrapping Lucy in a shawl and rocking her while keeping eye contact. And giving her a piece of soft cloth to keep in her pocket, which she could touch at any time and know we were thinking of her. It helped up to a point, but Jon felt foolish doing some of the exercises, and didn't feel he should have to work so hard to have a relationship with his daughter.
He really did try. Occasionally he'd spend time playing on the computer with her, and when she was seven he took her on a caravan trip because our After Adoption worker suggested they might both benefit from lengthy quality time together. During this break, Lucy mentioned that she'd noticed he spoke to Hannah differently, and Jon discussed her behaviour with her. When they returned they were both positive and he felt emotionally closer to her. But after a while things just went back to how they were before.
By now, her relationship with Hannah had worsened. There were a couple of incidents at school where Lucy had been incredibly disloyal to Hannah – befriending a girl who'd been mean to her and, along with some other girls, pushing her into the mud while she was wearing her new coat. Although we didn't realise it, Hannah's self-esteem was rapidly declining and she was depressed. She wouldn't play with friends and stayed in her bedroom for hours. She would call herself ugly and fat, and we noticed she wasn't eating much.
I always blamed Jon, not Lucy, for the lack of a bond and now I realise that was unfair. Lucy probably should have had therapy of some sort before coming to us. In hindsight, I think that her abrupt separations – from her birth mum and then her foster mum – led to some sort of attachment disorder, preventing her bonding easily.
We didn't seek help for Lucy till towards the end. The GP referred us to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, but the adoption broke down before that got under way. We were already having family therapy: in fact, despite our problems we decided we wanted another child, and in August 2003 I became pregnant.
Eventually the adoption didn't break down because of Lucy or Jon, but because of what happened to Hannah. Just before Christmas 2003, Hannah showed me a mark that she'd scraped on her stomach with a pen. She sat on my knee and cried, saying that she got worried and angry. She didn't blame Lucy explicitly, but she did say that she liked our time after Lucy had gone to bed the best. I resolved to give Hannah lots of attention over the holidays, and Jon and I decided to take her to the doctor after Christmas.
Then on 10 January 2004, when Lucy was in bed and I was running a bath for myself, Hannah ran ahead of me to jump into my bath water and I saw two new scratch marks on her belly about six inches long. She ran into her room and pulled the quilt over her head and wouldn't speak to me. Eventually I coaxed it out of her. 'I can't hurt Lucy so I hurt myself,' she said. 'If I go to you, you tell me to be more tolerant, and if I go to Dad it starts arguments – so I just hurt myself.'
As I sat crying in the bath, it suddenly became clear. Despite our best intentions, our whole family was in tatters. Hannah was so distraught that she was turning her anger against herself. I told Hannah that night that, despite our attempts to make things better through family therapy, her dad and I had decided that Lucy would have to leave. She was horrified and kept saying, 'She won't go to a children's home, will she?'
I reassured her she wouldn't. Then I told Jon. He protested – he was determined we could make it work – but I threatened to leave with Hannah if he didn't agree. The truth is that my need to protect Hannah overrode my need to care for Lucy.
It took a month for Lucy to leave because, at first, the local authorities said we just needed support. We discovered later that they didn't believe what we told them about Hannah, and were convinced that we wanted Lucy to go because I was pregnant with a 'miracle baby'. They didn't realise I'd always been able to conceive and had chosen to adopt instead.
Eventually, Jon threatened to bring Lucy to their offices and leave her there. The result of this was that they rang one Friday and said, 'OK, we'll come and get her on Monday.' In tears, I begged for more time to prepare her but they were adamant. So, again, she was to have an abrupt separation.
It was the worst day of my life when I had to tell Lucy she was leaving. I was crying and saying, 'I'm so sorry, Lucy,' and she said, 'Do I have to move?' She'd guessed.
When I said 'yes' she just wanted to know when, and counted the days on her fingers, 'Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.' Then she said, 'I thought I was going to stop breathing and die when you said that.'
I said it was because of her dad's relationship with her – which I know was wrong, but we didn't want her blaming herself and we were trying to keep Hannah out of it. We didn't want either girl to blame the other. Over that weekend, Lucy's reactions changed constantly. She'd been told that the reason her birth mother couldn't look after her was because she was ill. 'But you're not ill!' she'd say to us, accusingly. Then she'd wonder about the place she was going to and was almost excited, saying, 'They might have loads of money.'
On the day, Hannah decided she wanted to go to school but Lucy stayed at home. We must have spent a great part of that day packing, but it's a blur to me now. My only recollections are of Lucy sitting next to me on the sofa and asking me the time frequently, and then asking, 'So how long have I got left?'
At 4pm two social workers arrived to take Lucy. Then she was gone. I used to say I don't feel guilty, because guilt is attached to wrongdoing. But I did and still do. And I grieved. I noticed a massive gap after she left.
In hindsight, there were some crucial errors that meant the adoption was bound to fail. The two-day introductory period just wasn't enough. Also, although we knew that Lucy was used to being the younger sister when she came to us, we didn't realise that she'd had two very competitive relationships with older girls.
Her birth sister Jade was allowed contact with their mum while she wasn't (because Jade was six years older and the court ruled that her attachment was therefore greater); that must have made her feel terrible. Then there was an older girl in Lucy's foster family, Shahida, whom her foster carer was adopting; again Lucy must have felt unwanted. She should never have been placed in another family with an older sister. We later found out that in the last year Jade had been passing her messages from their birth mum saying that they were her real family and that one day they'd all be together. Jade's influence must have confused Lucy about her sense of identity and who she really belonged to. Jon firmly believes that, had she not maintained contact with Jade, everything might have been different.
I'm still very pro-adoption. For many children it provides years of fulfilling unconditional family love. But anyone considering it should arm themselves with as much background information on the child as possible, and make sure the introduction period is handled properly. Wanting to do 'good' is not enough.
Lucy is with a different foster carer now but still feels like our absent daughter. Because we adopted her legally, we continue to hold parental responsibility for her, but it's not in any real sense, just on paper. She's 12, which makes her chances of being adopted by anyone else very slim as people tend to want younger children. We send birthday and Christmas cards but last year didn't get a response. I've been told that she talks about us affectionately, but who knows? We've since had Macy, who is four, and Hannah is now 14.
In Lucy's file we've placed a letter saying that if she ever wants to contact us we'd like to hear from her. Perhaps the story has not ended after all.
All names have been changed. Karen Carr's book, Adoption Undone, is available from for £7.95. For more information on adoption, visit BAAF's website or call 020 7421 2600
There is so much I want to say about this story but I don't want to respond to it with a rant of anger and venom towards the vile selfish adopters. The point is this isn't just a story, this is a child's life. No thought or consideration was given to her needs and interests. This was a child who was little more than a designer convenience to fill a selfish whim.
Every single person involved in the child's adoption, from the adopters to case workers and agencies should be charged with child neglect. Right down the line people neglected to protect her best interests. What is the saddest reflection of all is that without exception from the adopters down to the officials on every level all feel a tremendous sadness and all have praise for the adopters bravery and courage in telling the 'raw' and honest account of their heart ache.?? Anger, WHY are there no feelings of anger.
Am I really just a hurt and bitter angry adoptee... NO, and that I am sure about. These people didn't only crush this child's mind and heart they have gone on to make money out of the situation in the form of a book.
Adoption is wrong.

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Secretly Crying

2008-07-04 0 comments

Every year more than 50,000 children in England and Wales have their fates decided by the family courts. When divorcing parents cannot agree on how the children they produced together should be looked after, a judge from the family courts will adjudicate and enforce a particular way of dividing those children’s time between their two parents. Equally, when officers of the state (usually social workers) believe that children’s interests would be better served by being taken away from their biological parents and given either to a new couple to adopt, or handed over to the care of a state-run institution, it again requires a decision from a judge from the family courts, a decision which will be irrevocable. Secret justice-private-hell

The outcome of a family court hearing can result in a far greater 'sentence' than any criminal court. A sentence handed out by family courts WILL often be a life sentence to both children and parents alike.

Unlike the British judicial system though the proceedings of family courts are shielded from any out side scrutiny due to the veil of secrecy. A secrecy it is claimed that protects the child.

The blanket that covers what takes place in the family courts is so impenetrable that there is no systematic research about the effects of their decisions: no one except the judge, and the affected family (occasionally not even the family) is allowed to read the secret court documents.
A system of any sorts in reality can only be as effective as the measures put into place to ensure correct procedures are followed, implemented and held accountable. Far from edging towards any sort of openness and fairness in family proceedings the secrecy veil appears to be getting much darker. The scope that social  workers have to cite as grounds to remove a child is forever widening.

It is not  necessary to show that a child has been damaged in any way at all. All that is necessary is the claim that, at some point in the future, the child might suffer emotional damage — a claim which is of course impossible for any parent to disprove.

How many more families have to be wrongly ripped apart.  How much longer will our child protection secretly go on protecting the enforces. Maybe it would be easier to ask how long is a piece of string.

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