With respect to three Bayne children and their best interests, and with respect to their parents Paul and Zabeth Bayne, our Ministry of Children and our legal system are tediously approaching the point at which the only and the best thing that MCFD child protection service workers can do is to apologize.
After which the Baynes shall shut the door and MCFD shall go away forever.
Yes the case details are complex and the medical features and opinions problematic. Yes the children's births were premature and their development slow and that complicates perceptions. Yes, the case at first glance is similar in appearance to other abuse cases that social workers must work. Yes, these parents defy the norm in that they research and appeal and write letters and do blogging and gain an audience. Yes this case may have a uniqueness about it. All the more reason to be circumspect. Someone else might say, all the more reason not to do stupid things. Oh, that was me.
Seriously, I believe this case will be an embarrassment to social work done by the Fraser Valley Region of the Ministry of Children. It must make conscientious social workers wince. What will become noticeable as this court case concludes is the array of disturbing illustrations of merciless treatment of parents by this team of professional social workers. Throw in sundry instances of clumsiness, incompetence and imprudence and the news media will fill e-pages with the story when Judge Crabtree rules.
Why would you not consistently inform parents in advance that their child(ren) have a doctor's appointment or an eye examination or a school concert. Why would all the customary expectations not be accommodated to Paul and Zabeth? Why do things which collectively give the appearance that you dislike these parents so much that you won't provide common courtesies unless a Judge enforces them? Why does MCFD legal counsel repeatedly seek delays? Good grief, the optics are reprehensible. I suppose that's because the reality is worse. I didn't think I could speak meaningfully to reform yesterday. Today I can. Social Work in BC has to be re-characterized with compassion and courage. If some of you who are engaged in social work are going to tell me that these qualities do exist, I will be gratified because I have not observed it here.
This case comes down to this. In spite of the parents' explanation of an in-house accident in which one child fell upon an infant, Dr. Colbourne diagnosed the smaller child's injuries as consistent with a shaken baby. She notified MCFD and RCMP. No criticism, that was her job. She was legally bound to do that. She was called to testify for MCFD in court that on the basis of her examination of the child and the reports of other colleagues in other specialties, this was a non accidental injury and that the child had been shaken. However, after some deliberation the Judge told her that she could testify to the medical examination results because she was qualified to do that and that would be entered as evidence. But she could not testify as to cause, or whether this was accidental or non accidental because she lacked qualifications to interpret those outcomes and her opinions would not qualify as evidence.
Yet, in October 2007 the MCFD accepted this medical assessment and never reconsidered it. MCFD bought the entire package, non accidental injury, shaken baby, parents guilt. Never seriously considered conflicting opinions from other medical professionals that were provided to them. The Colbourne diagnosis drove the MCFD agenda, its communications and interactions with the Bayne parents. It has dictated MCFD attitudes and treatment of the Baynes ever since. The Baynes have been regarded as adversaries. When visiting the children, parents have been persistently disciplined, “don't talk about the past. Don't talk about the future. Don't take photographs” (oh yes recently the judge compelled MCFD to permit this.) “Don't help your child to go to the bathroom. Don't do hand signals to your child.”
Judge Crabtree has been processing all of this and I am convinced this new Chief Justice is going to royally scold the MCFD.