Tuesday, November 29, 2011


How many children living in safe and blameless homes with dependable and competent parents are hurt in all manner of accidental ways as they sleep, play, eat, explore, experiment alone or with friends or with their parents?  

An unidentified baby, a sink, a tap ?????
On my way home last night I heard a radio news report of a young mother whose 3-month old daughter was scalded during her bath when she flailed and struck the hot water tap. The baby is suffering from first and second degree burns on her lower extremities. She was being bathed in the kitchen sink. There will be so many questions to ask and answer. The young mom will be distraught. Do you trust the police and the Ministry of Children child protection division to make the correct determinations? What will you think if they take that little girl away from her parents?

The ways by which child protection is managed in British Columbia arouses strong emotions and passionate controversy. Decisions about children and parents create ethical tensions on a weekly if not daily basis.

This latitude of purpose understandably involves conflicts with parents and consequently produces reluctance among professionals to become involved in cases in which some kind of abuse or neglect may be implicated. So our legislature has overcome such reluctance with law that requires mandatory reporting. However, compulsory reporting by medical professionals, educators, police and citizens generates the potential for countless regrettable and mistaken decisions when faced with questionable circumstances, diagnostic uncertainties and problematic investigations.  Individual diagnoses of abuse always involve value judgements. Such judgements depend upon effective training and core competencies of professionals and still there is the peril of inaccuracy. So MCFD and media and politicians should expect to hear from parents and advocates and sympathizers who decry breaches in professional duties and professional misconduct. Their complaints are often justified and aggravated.

The Bayne Family at a Reunion Celebration
I believe that a mistaken diagnosis is what occurred in October 2007 when Paul and Zabeth Bayne had all three children removed because their youngest child was diagnosed as a shaken baby. The circumstances were complex and the injuries were serious. The diagnosis upon which the child removal was founded was one medical opinion. Her injuries however, could have been explained by the parents’ account of a fall of a toddler brother on to the infant girl if that report had been believed. Four years later a judge dismissed the shaken baby claim but remained concerned by the unexplained injuries to a child. Nonetheless he believed that the children’s best possibility for care and stability was with their parents and he ordered the Ministry and Paul and Zabeth to work toward this resolution. The family was reunited in August 2011.  

Playful Ayn can fill her father & brothers with joy
I believe that between June 12th and June 16th 2011, social workers for MCFD came to the wrong decision regarding Ayn Van Dyk. Ayn is Derek Hoare’s daughter, and on the 12th of June, Ayn took a little excursion of her own over the family fence and into someone else’s yard. She was missing for three hours. Although she was found by police and returned to Derek that day, and although she was thrilled to see her daddy because home is an extremely safe place with every kind of precaution and protection in place, on June 16th social workers expected too much. They expected that Derek would voluntarily sign his daughter over to them and when be did not, they apprehended her at her school. They have kept her from Derek for over five months now. It has the appearance of a punishment. MCFD will claim the action was to ease Derek’s burden – something tactless like that. It’s an unacceptable retribution.  But the MCFD never has to explain itself to anyone.

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