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Family Wrongs is a resource for families who are under threat from social services in the UK (also USA and Australia). Advice for ordinary well-adjusted (but perhaps 'unconventional') families as well as those who are struggling financially or psychologically or suffering from ill health.

[still under development] - A salutary warning in the meantime: child protection authorities have virtually unlimited powers that are routinely abused and often condoned by the family courts (who hold all sessions in secret). In the UK, over 200,000 families are affected each year (50,000 children taken into care at any one time), the majority for pedantic 'concerns' or because of malicious gossip or simply medical impotence.

The investigative and legal processes are so protracted and convoluted that even if the 'concerns' are unfounded or based on overzealous professional incompetence, the minimum disruption is three months and often can extend for 1-3 years!

Top Tips

    Do not approach Social Services or Family Services for help. Independent charities are more effective, offer more substantial help and are usually non-judgemental.

    Don’t attract attention to yourself or your family - this means arguing with schools/teachers, doctors, ongoing medical problems, drunkenness, drug addiction. Get help quietly from charities or support groups instead. If you or your children have an un-diagnosable medical problem contact Parents Protecting Children. Roy Meadows may be disgraced but his teachings and beliefs live on in the practices of his many disciples. Remember, too, he was knighted and appointed a professor, has been reinstated and is still revered as an 'expert' witness. He represents the conventional, established point of view. An ordinary parent carries little if any weight, particularly if you are in difficulty.

    Yes, it may sound ridiculous, but keep your children's fingernails short and clean, don't let them wear old or dirty clothes, make sure they wear underwear at all times, keep their hair lice free and keep them clean. Discourage them from talking about your family dirty linen to others, especially their friends, neighbours, doctors and teachers. An innocent remark about an argument taken out of context or an accident at home or even about an 'unusual' diet (e.g. vegetarian or raw food) can have dire consequences. If your children go to school, be especially vigilant about arriving and collecting them on time and be scrupulous about their appearance. And make sure they have a good breakfast, whether they need/want it or not. The function of schools in Britain is primarily to monitor children, education is secondary. Strange, but true.

    Don't rock the boat - Britain is not a free society. So long as you have young children (the younger the more vulnerable they are to intervention) keep your head down! New legislation has increased the onus on medical practitioners and other professionals to waive confidentiality if there is in any way a concern about the welfare of children. It could be something as innocuous as declaring that you can't cope or are feeling depressed.

    If you do have to campaign or protest, learn how to do it effectively. Read Campaigning, The A to Z of Public Advocacy or The Campaigning Handbook.

    If you are divorcing, try to avoid the courts if at all possible. Contact Families Need Fathers (even if you are a woman)

    If your children are home educated, join HEAS or contact Education Otherwise. Under the new legislation concerning the Children's Database, your children are already 'at risk'. It will only take one or two additions to your record (a visit to A&E or a referral from a neighbour, doctor or teacher) for an investigation to begin.

    If you do attract the attentions of the social services or a child protection agency then be co-operative. [But keep your wits about you. Don’t sign agreements. Don’t admit anything; especially don’t say that your are depressed or can’t cope. Instead, you can say that some support might be helpful. And say nothing bad about your partner. Say as little as possible, albeit in a seemingly helpful & co-operative fashion.] Above all, do not argue or get emotionally involved. You will be provoked, challenged and baited. All you are doing is providing 'evidence' for further intervention. Your presence at court is not required for Interim Care Orders or other warrants to be issued. Magistrates are usually 'respectable' members of the community - head teachers, doctors, retired people - who hold very conservative views about how people should conduct their lives. They are seldom critical of requests by 'professionals' and do not require concrete evidence of any kind.

    Don't stand on your Rights. In practice, you don't have any. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Human Rights Act bare very little weight when it comes to 'concerns' about children. Keep in mind that Britain and America lock up more of their citizens per capita than any other country - often for minor or non-violent offences. A disproportionate number of women, the majority of whom are incarcerated for non-violent offences or because they are ill, actually die in prison. And a disproportionate number of prisoners are considered innocent by organisations such as Innocent and MOJO.

    Get hold of a family lawyer immediately. Search the Law Society website and choose one who is on the Children's Panel. You are entitled to legal aid. It is a serious matter if the social services are in any way involved, regardless of what they tell you. They will gently discourage you from seeking legal advice or involving a lawyer. Remember that everything you say can and will be used as evidence against you and your family. And often what you say is misquoted. You will seldom be advised of your rights (which are very limited anyway). You are entitled to access your 'User File', but you will often find obstacles and delays in attempting to do so.

    Make your own notes and keep a diary of everything that happens. Record conversations covertly if you have to.

    If the courts are involved, transfer immediately to the Family Court. No matter how bad and secretive these courts are, they are not nearly as unprofessional and incompetent as the county courts.

    If you have to 'escape' from an impending investigation and you believe that your children are in danger of being removed indefinitely or put up for adoption (babies and toddlers are especially vulnerable, despite rulings against this by the ECHR) then consider moving to a country that is not part of the Hague Convention of International Child Abduction. It may be difficult if you are struggling financially, but make plans and preparations early (even if only 'just in case'). There are many countries where you can live very cheaply and bring up your children safely and without interference, like India, South East Asia, most of Africa and even parts of Japan. Remember, you can also move to many other parts of Europe as an interim measure and may be entitled to unemployment and housing benefits. (Of course you will be more easily traceable.) For more information on this, check the details for the respective country on the EU website. For more serious cases, consider changing your identity. You can legally change your name and apply for a new passport. If you want to fresh start then do a search on google for other ways and learn how to effectively cover your tracks.