The two children of a mother who hit them outside their school are to live with their aunt.
The case of Chd1 & Chd2 (Children : care orders) concerned siblings aged nine and six. They were taken into interim (temporary) care in March when their mother was seen hitting them in an “uncontrolled way” outside their school. The mother will face criminal charges in connection with the incident in January next year, under section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. This governs cruelty, including assault, to persons under 16.
After an initial stay with foster carers, the children went to live with their mother’s sister, referred to as ‘Au’, and the local authority and the children’s guardian both concluded that they should remain with her under full care orders. Sitting at the Family Court in Bristol, His Honour Judge Wildblood explained:
“The Local Authority contends that [the incident when the mother hit the children] was reflective of the harsh, emotionally impoverished and unduly punitive upbringing that the children had when living with their mother.”
The mother admitted the incident but resisted the local authority’s application for care orders, arguing that the children should be returned to her.
The mother was Jamaican and had indefinite leave to remain in the UK. She also had three older children, who had been taken into care in similar circumstances in 2004, while the oldest child in the current proceedings had been made subject to a supervision order in 2006, shortly after her birth.
The two children in the current case had different fathers – one Jamaican and one from Malawi.
The children’s guardian noted that the mother “had had an extremely difficult life and views the world as hostile and racist.”
Nevertheless, the children’s guardian told the court in a report that the children “present with significant emotional and behavioural difficulties which impact on their education, ability to form friendships, identity and social presentation.”
The judge considered the accounts of witnesses who had seen the mother “punching” and “hitting” her children outside the school.
He explained that the law mandates that the relationship between children and their mother should only be “invaded” as a “last resort”. However, he continued:
“I have given very careful thought to the needs of the girls and regard it as unthinkable that they could be returned to the environment that the mother offers, having found an emotionally supportive and violence free environment with their aunt. Thus a change in their circumstances by which they returned home would be positively harmful to them.”
“This mother deserves every sympathy for the hardship that she has suffered and I extend that sympathy to her. However, it is also very plain that her own background has fashioned her style of parenting and has left her with such a backlog of emotional difficulties that she is unable to offer the girls the emotional parenting that they need.”
Judge Wildblood issued the care orders.
Read the full judgement here.
In May the High Court approved the adoption of a disabled girl from a Jamaican background despite the opposition of her father.
Photo by Hadar via Flickr