A Grandmother’s Perspective on Family Violence
Hi John, after reading through the family violence discussion document today I sent the following email through and thought you and your subscribers might be interested in the subject.
My recent and current experience regarding my grandchildren has highlighted significant problems with our systems approach to this subject. Specifically the rights and powers to protect children from harm. As a grandparent I have a duty and responsibility to protect my grandchildren from harm caused to them by their parent, however current legislation does not allow me to do so. I have no power to take a child away from the abuser.
After staying in hospital with my 3 month old granddaughter injured by her consistently neglectful mother (who didn’t want to be there) shaking her and screaming at her, I had absolutely no power to prevent the mother taking the child away at discharge time.
The abuse and neglect was reported to hospital staff and Social Workers who then referred the matter to Family Works. The Hospital Social Workers advised that the mother was free to take the child if she wanted to. The harming of this child was not considered to be important enough to be considered urgent and appallingly the mother suffered no consequences for what she had done to the child because – the child had survived and recovered. Therefore the mother was permitted to take the child and everyone ‘hoped’ that it wouldn’t happen again. I was advised that I had no legal right to stop her taking the child. We were told that ‘eventually’ someone from Family Works would make contact with the mother to help her do a better job.
It became very apparent that part of the complacency was due to the fact that it was the mother who harmed the child which apparently is ‘more understandable’. If the abusive parent had been the father, more action would have been taken. Gender bias when it comes to the safety of children is unacceptable.
Placing a child back in the care of their abusive parent without any supervision is unacceptable and denies that child their basic human right to be safe from harm. Babies cannot speak up or defend themselves.
- The Law and all agencies working in areas regarding child safety, should put the safety and wellbeing of the child BEFORE the rights and wishes of the abusive parent.
- grandparents should have the legal right and power to remove the child from the abusive parents care until that parent has received counselling and completed an approved parenting programme and anger management programme. Until these programmes are completed and it is proven that the child will be safe, the abusive parent should be permitted supervised access only.
- shaking a baby is ABUSE
- pouring ‘boiling’ milk into a babies mouth is ABUSE
These are serious issues that must be addressed.
Our current systems obsession with keeping children with their parents (especially mothers) has gone too far and has caused complacency within the agencies responsible for dealing with these matters. The systems and rules themselves are putting children at further risk.