Beyond parental control

“The principal legal issue was whether you should approach threshold like this

The child has suffered significant harm AND
She is beyond parental control
Which was how the LA argued it


The child has suffered significant harm AND
She is beyond parental control AND
There is some casual link, even if it is not the only or dominant cause, between the child being beyond parental control and the significant harm.
As the parents were arguing.

For clarity, in the first instance, there’s no sense of blame, and in the second, there’s at least some slight degree of blame or responsibility for at least some of the harm.”


Threshold criteria – the legal ‘key’ which allows a Court to make a Care or Supervision Order, is defined by section 31 of the Children Act 1989 and it usually relies on the child having suffered or there being a likelihood that the child will suffer significant harm, as a result of the parent behaving in a way that would be unreasonable to expect of a parent.  There is, however, the much less frequently seen other limb which is that the child is ‘beyond parental control’.

There are volumes of reported cases about threshold on the first limb, but very little on the second, so even though this is a Circuit Judge decision and not binding precedent, it is worthy of discussion.

Re P (Permission to withdraw care proceedings) 2016

I’ve written at some length about one of the cases cited in this judgment, Re K, and the facts…

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2 thoughts on “Beyond parental control

  1. I apologize for only replying to the text in this post and not the links.

    I’ve been looking at the logical thing, and I think it makes some sort of sense if we look at it this way: a kid who is taking the sort of bruising that qualifies as harm but still misbehaves, that kid is too tough, that kid may resist until death or serious injury. That kid’s parents’ discipline has, for some reason, failed. While a disciplinarian may think he can still win, once the bruises have been established, the law can’t let that parent keep trying, the state doesn’t want to be complicit in any further escalation of parental discipline/violence.

    I guess the second part alone must refer to a wanton child hurting people and the parents irresponsibly not stopping the kid? Or a kid who’s too big and strong for them?

    I know the Christian revivalists see it as Family first, then Church and State state last, or God, then family – but I’m guessing all Bible people put the State last, right? But secular western states have outlawed violence, and parental violence is not exempted.

    For the record – it is sort of stupid to try to tell your kids what to do at all if you’re unable or unwilling to back it up. I have two girls, they’re young adults now – but I was unwilling to back anything up, we used no discipline whatsoever – and sure enough, they don’t do anything I want. I mean they’re good, they’re good because that’s what they want to be – but it’s not about me. They’re not getting in trouble or anything, doing well for themselves, but they don’t lift a finger for me. So I proved that. It was still a positive experiment, and a stress free life, there’s more to life than useless daughters. The work I don’t get out of them is work I never put in disciplining them. Fair enough, I figure.

    But yeah, the laws in Secular or Christian dominant countries keep people from backing it up all the way. I don’t like the halfway measures we cultural Christians have either – I sort of went with fundamentals, principles, all or nothing. I chose nothing, and interestingly, they were never in trouble, never out of control, always the nicest kids around. I think some religious groups have chosen that way too, nothing instead of all, the Quakers come to mind. Maybe there’s a fundamentalist way out of this for the west’s Muslims too, somehow. Surely there are pacifist traditions that could be brought forward?

    Just a crazy thought, sort of fun to contemplate . . .


    • Perhaps somewhere out there exists a thin blue line marking the border and limit of compulsory state interference in family life, because the problem of over-zealous social workers splitting up families which, with a little timely support, would almost certainly have been better off together is certainly not going away yet the European judicial system and especially British family law clearly seems to lack objectivity in addressing much less redressing this. Part of the problem is the false consensus formed prematurely between the Guardian and often over-zealous social workers which effectively drowns out the voice of the child and her parents blindly rubber-stamped by aloof Judges hence limiting any effective access to justice. Naturally, where the state in the guise of its social workers and judiciary restrains itself and upholds the spirit as well as the letter of the law, and families are permitted to blossom on the basis of safe parenting balanced by erm, nuanced discipline one expects trust and intimacy to develop between children and their parents leading to fulfilling relationships as the new generation ultimately supersedes the one before. This is the natural order of things the world over save for certain pockets of irrationality scarring the face of societies everywhere.
      Thanks for stopping by and again for a very thought-provoking comment, Jeff!

      Liked by 1 person

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