Boy Taken Away After Mother Says ‘No’ to Ice Cream
A High Court judge called claims made by a social worker “utterly insubstantial” and “obviously inconsequential” after the worker indicated a mother was failing to meet the emotional needs of her son and recommended he be taken away from her. The claims were made after the woman refused to take her son for ice cream to get his hair cut in the style he requested. She was thereafter separated from him.
The case was brought to the High Court after a lower-ranking judge at a family court hearing ruled the boy, now eight years old, should be taken out of his mother’s care and made to live with foster parents. The woman challenged the ruling and it paid off. The boy was returned home with his care continuing to be supervised by social services.
The judge ruled it was “very hard” to figure out exactly what social services had “against” the mother, alleging that social worker’s reports were filled with fluff rather than specific arguments against her ability to parent. The court ultimately ruled, “The local authority’s evidence in opposition to the mother’s application was contained in an extremely long, 44-page, witness statement made by the social worker…This witness statement was very long on rhetoric and generalized criticism but very short indeed on any concrete examples of where and how the mother’s parenting had been deficient.”
At the hearing, the social worker had been asked to “identify her best example” of deficient parenting on the mother’s part and the reasons she had failed to meet her son’s emotional needs. The caseworker replied her best example was that the mother had chosen not to take the boy for ice cream. “’Her response was that until prompted by the local authority mother had not spent sufficient one-to-one time with (the boy) and had failed on one occasion to take him out for an ice cream,” indicated court documents, which called the response insubstantial and stated, “A further criticism in this vein was that the mother had failed to arrange for (his) hair to be cut in the way that he liked. Again, this is obviously inconsequential.”
The social workers also claimed the boy had formed an attachment to his foster parents, but the court argued it “must be on guard against subtle and insidious forms of social engineering in favor of new ‘better’ parents…The court must recognize that the state has no right to deprive a natural parent of the right to bring up his or her child unless it can be shown that the exercise of that right would endanger the child’s moral or physical health.” Further, it was concluded that the argument to keep the child with foster parents “does not place any weight at all on the principle of proportionality, or on the right to respect for family life, let alone on the positive duty of the local authority to take measures to achieve a reunification of the blood family.”
The reasons leading to the child being taken away and placed into foster care in 2016 were set out in court rulings but have not been made available to the public. According to files, other incidents held against the mother included one in which her boyfriend had emotionally harmed the boy when he decided to take away a Power Rangers sword while the child was waving it around indoors.