Letter: Accused of abuse

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Of course I agree with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown that people who ill-treat kids should be reported. But the callers who think very carefully before grassing a neighbour are not burying their heads in the sand, but recognising the that it is a lot easier to put a child into care than to get him out again. Denouncing a family is likely to cause a lot of misery to a lot of people, including the child concerned. No wonder they hesitate.

Ms Alibhai-Brown is right, it is terrible to be falsely accused of hurting your children. This happened to my wife and me, and the allegations included our teenage son, who was accused of abusing his sisters. It is a terrible thing to happen, but what is even worse is to be cleared by the police and the courts, yet still treated as an abuser by social services and barred from seeing your children. There is no appeal against their decision for my family and myself.

The slogan "best interests of the child" is used to justify whatever the social workers and the foster parents want. The whole system is cloaked in secrecy. There is no legal aid available for representation.

If Ms Alibhai-Brown wants to encourage people to act on the slightest suspicion over the way their neighbours are raising their kids, she should see what can be done to open up the system that takes so many children from their natural families, only to kick them out on the street again when they turn 18. One in four boys in jail are graduates of the care system. Do you call that "safeguarding the nation's children?"

THOMAS McCOURT

Glasgow

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