Media – the real story

Yesterday a few journalists in the media went for the jugular and condemned social workers for their abuse of power in the case of an Italian woman whose baby was removed and is now placed for adoption (see yesterdays postRemoval at birth – what’s the back story?).

As I suspected, the back story proved otherwise and so social workers today found it just that bit more difficult to gain the trust of families. The woman in question was detained under section 3 of the Mental Health Act in June. The health trust 5 weeks later made the clinical decision to apply for permission to deliver the baby by caesarean section because of concerns of the risk to the child from the mothers behaviour. Much was talked about, especially in the Telegraph about heavy handed behaviour and lack of thought for her other two children in Italy. It transpired that the Italian authorities obtained orders to prevent her having care of her children due to clear risks. She continued to be unwell all through the assessment period and the extended family were talked to in great depth by Essex County Council who concluded there was no viable blood relative who was able to provide care.

So, the police, the psychiatric services, the obstetricians, the social workers, two high court judges and several lawyers all had input and the outcome has been that the child is in the process of being freed for adoption.

Why are some journalists so keen to pull the trigger so early without checking their facts? Why is there no balance any more in some media quarters? The net result of this is inevitably that hard working social workers will today, somewhere, have more trouble engaging with families in need because of the climate of fear and anxiety created by people lacking information and looking for drama. People with an agenda using a child’s circumstances to pursue their own misguided path.

I bet that not one word of apology appears on radio stations or in news papers – or any other social media outlet – that purported this to be an abuse of power. It just remains for some of us who are committed to trying to see a balanced picture to have to try and mop up the damage.

This whole case is a tragedy – for the mother, for the child and for all those associated with the case. There should be a great deal of sympathy for people who, due to acute mental health problems, are unable to be a safe parent. This should not be a platform for those with other agendas or misguided views of the world to use vulnerable people as a weapon to attack professionals whose work they do not understand.

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