Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

O I Don't Know How Social Services Can Be So Ignorant

11 Oct 2011We all hope that child protection services exist, to do exactly that... Protect our children, but all too often, we hear of horror stories of children being taken away from innocent, loving parents, whilst leaving terribly abused children to live with unfit parents, who couldn’t care less about them.

Just like an English couple in Bristol, who had their children removed from their care for 18 months, because of false abuse allegations. Amy Garland and Paul Crummey were arrested for suspected child abuse against their newborn son, Harrison, almost three years ago now.

The couple took Harrison to the hospital when he fell ill, where later tests revealed that he had multiple fractures in his arms and legs. Six week old Harrison and his almost two year old sister, Bethany, were taken from their loving parents to ‘protect’ them, and were placed in the care of their grandparents while investigations were carried out against Amy and Paul.

The couple were denied custody of their children for the next 18 months, and were only allowed to see them under strict supervision. With all of the stress of the accusations, Amy and Paul ended up separating shortly after their arrests.

Because Amy was still breastfeeding, the judge from the Bristol County Court, ordered the family to live in a family placement centre, where they were monitored by cameras, which were placed in every room of the house, and were recording 24 hours a day.

After three months of watching their every move, the staff at the family placement centre could not see anything wrong with Amy or Paul’s parenting skills, and deemed them to be fit enough to be reunited as an independent family unit once again, but social services didn’t agree and appealed this recommendation, having the children placed into foster care for a further six months.

Amy later consulted with an expert, who suggested that Harrison could have been born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), or more commonly known as Brittle Bones. Once tests were carried out, they concluded that he did in fact suffer from OI, and that’s why he sustained unexplained broken bones from a young age.

Being born with brittle bones myself, I can understand why families can be wrongly accused of abuse against young children, as a fracture in a baby can occur from very little, to no impact at all. My mum always recalls an incident that happened to her when I was 3 months old. She put me down to rest in my cot, and was walking away, down the hallway, when she heard me sneeze, and seconds later, heard a loud snapping sound, she said this was followed by a horrific scream of incredible pain shortly after. I had broken my femur, from a sneeze.

I know of a lot of people, personally, with OI from all around the world, mostly whom I’ve met through the internet. And I still hear stories of children being taken away from their families or threats against families because of undiagnosed cases of brittle bones. It’s so sad and could have more damaging effects on families in the long run. That’s why awareness is always so important, so doctors know how to rule this out as a possibility, before taking children away from their parents.

For Amy and Paul, once Harrison was diagnosed with OI, they tested Bethany as well, who also had a mild form of the disorder. They were both returned back into their parents’ care, and Amy and Paul were cleared of all abuse allegations. They are still awaiting an apology from social services.

Sadly, because these types of cases are carried out in a family court, details can’t be released to the media or public, so these cases are quite common, and the family is left to suffer alone, and is powerless to obtain assistance from the outside world, because no one knows what is going on, until the families are proven innocent years down the track.

Whilst growing up, I always heard of incidences of false abuse claims from the 1950’s and earlier, but I never thought this type of occurrence would still be continuing in 2011... To prove if someone has OI isn’t that difficult. A simple skin biopsy can verify whether or not someone is missing the vital gene that replenishes the bone’s collagen levels. And it is the body’s inability to rebuild the bone strength, with the assistance of collagen, which causes the brittle bones. So perhaps if this test was carried out as soon as unexplained child abuse claims were made, then a lot more innocent families would stay together.

To read the original story of Amy and Paul’s battle with child services, click here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2026555/Social-workers-wrongly-accuse-family-breaking-babys-limbs.html

Paul and Amy reunited with their beloved children, Bethany and Harrison

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Previous Comments

Chris from Seymour CT posted on 6 Dec 2013
A relative of mine was charged w/ abusing her 10 week old daughter. She and her fiance brought their daughter to the hospital because the child was sick. The medical staff informed the parents that the child had several broken bones that were already healing and had been for a long time. DCF was called and the child was removed from their custody. The child had been seen by her pedi 3 times since birth and there were no reports of any broken bones. The State is refusing to have the child tested for any diseases or conditions that could have caused the injuries. The child is currently 9.5 months old and is doing good. DCF has already said that they are convinced that the parents abused their child and want to terminate parental rights. Why won't they let the child be tested. The child and both parents each have their own lawyers and none of them have requested that the child be tested. It's inexcusable for the way DCF and the attorneys are handling the situation.

Deb from WI USA posted on 11 Oct 2011
This is so sad. We are parent who were also investigated for abuse. Luckily enough we had family who was allowed to supervise us during the 6 week investigation before our case was closed. ** it should be clarified however that a DNA test can prove an OI diagnosis but it can NOT rule it out. In other words sometimes you CAN have OI but the DNA test comes back normal. Sometimes it is an error but there are many types of OI where they have not yet discovered the gene that causes it. ** As is the case with my dd. She has moderate OI. With a clinical diagnosis.

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