Published Wednesday 16 December 2015 19.07 GMTLast modified on Wednesday 16 December 201522.33 GMT
We work with mothers and find that children are being taken from them for no good reason (Vicious circle for mothers who lose first-born babies to family courts, 15 December). In a return to Victorian values, mothers who are single, have been in care, are victims of domestic violence, are on benefits or have a disability are in danger of being considered unfit and having their children targeted for forced adoptions or foster care. In 2013, social services, rather than offering support to a young mother with mild learning difficulties, applied for the baby’s removal two days after birth. After a judge intervened, she was placed in an inappropriate mother and baby unit, denied all contact with her family and not allowed to leave. The inevitable failure enabled social services to put the child up for adoption within five months.
Domestic violence is now the most common pretext for removal. The Family Rights Group found that “domestic violence has outstripped parental mental illness or drug and alcohol misuse as the most common underlying factor behind child protection intervention”. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularyreports that domestic violence cases rose 31% between 2013 and 2015. But while mothers are punished with removal for failing to protect their children, violent fathers are often given access and even residency.
We now learn that, in response to the intolerable and unpoliced mass rape of children in care in Rotherham and throughout the UK, “failing children’s services” are to be privatised (Failing children’s services to be taken over by rival councils under proposed changes, 14 December). More resources will go to charities, businesses and professional agencies driven by targets and profits, removing this grave crime against children from public accountability. Keeping children with their mother has ceased to be a social or economic priority. A crime in itself. Child protection begins with financial support and resources for their primary carer – usually the mother. Paying their carers a living wage would prioritise this caring relationship, the foundation of a society that cares about children.
Kim Sparrow, Single Mothers’ Self Defence
Selma James, Global Women’s Strike
Nina Lopez, Legal Action for Women
Cristel Amiss, Black Women’s Rape Action Project
Lisa Longstaff, Women Against Rape
Claire Glasman, WinVisible