BREAKING: Supreme Court Rules Parents Must Be Informed About Their Rights Under Section 20 Agreements

Researching Reform

supreme court

A judgment in the Supreme Court handed down this morning confirms that councils must fully inform parents of their rights in relation to section 20 arrangements. The Court held that a failure to do so amounted to a breach under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides a right to respect for private and family life.

S.20 agreements enable local authorities to accommodate children in need, where parents cannot look after their children or where children seek alternative housing, for short periods of time.

The Supreme Court judgment in Williams and another v London Borough of Hackney, overturns current child protection practice which allows social workers to use S.20s to remove children, without giving parents substantive information about the arrangements.

The Supreme Court also reaffirmed that the Children Act 1989 did not contain any clauses requiring councils to get informed consent from parents, however Lady Hale made it…

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Important Child Welfare Cases To Watch

Not a moment too soon! Time for root and branch reform over properly defining the limits of state intervention in (established) family life is long overdue.

Researching Reform

Three cases have surfaced which test the boundaries of councils’ and other government bodies’ duties of care around vulnerable children.

On our Watch List are the following:

CN & Anor v Poole Borough Council

This case involves two men who were children at the time, and who along with their mother, were placed in accommodation near a family with a history of  anti social behaviour. The mother and her sons, one of whom was severely disabled, were targeted, and suffered deep distress from the harassment they experienced, with one child trying to commit suicide as a result. The family had tried to get help from the local authority, police and housing association, without success. They were relocated some time later.

The case has now made it to the Supreme Court, and looks at whether the local authority has a duty to protect children from harm by third parties whilst…

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#ChildWelfare #Alienation: Deep, enduring #psychological #HARM is inflicted by any unnecessary Parent-Child Separation!

Psychological Damage Inflicted By Parent-Child Separation is Deep, Long-Lasting | NOVA | 20

Millions of years of evolution have gone into erecting the deepest of connections: that between mother and child.

That primal bond—when forcibly shattered or disrupted—can be devastating for both parent and child, according to scientists, many of whom are weighing in on the White House’s recent “zero-tolerance” policy designed to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

“Based on empirical evidence of the psychological harm that children and parents experience when separated,” wrote experts from the American Psychological Association in a letter to President Trump, “we implore you to reconsider this policy and commit to the more humane practice of housing families together pending immigration proceedings to protect them from further trauma.” Many other organizations, including the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, have released similar statements.

On May 7, U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Homeland Security would refer 100% of illegal immigrants crossing the border for criminal prosecution in federal court. Any minors accompanying them were to be taken into government custody.

In the past, immigrants charged with this misdemeanor were able to stay in shelters with their children while waiting for further direction.

The story is moving quickly. President Trump declared today that he plans to issue an executive order to end the separation of families at the border by indefinitely detaining parents and children together.

Still, in a six-week period, nearly 2,000 children—some as young as 18 months old—were separated from their caregivers. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that babies and other young members of this group are living in “tender age” shelters in South Texas.

“I would definitely consider [this] a traumatic experience with long-term consequences,” said Chandra Ghosh Ippen, associate director and dissemination director of the Child Trauma Research Program at the University of California, San Francisco and the Earth Trauma Treatment Network.

When a child is separated from his or her parents under chaotic circumstances, a monsoon of stress hormones (like cortisol) floods the brain and the body. These hormones are important for navigating stress in the short-term. However, in high doses, these chemicals—if hyperactive for a prolonged period of time—can increase the risk of lasting, destructive complications like heart disease, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. In addition, multiples instances of trauma early in life can lead to mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

On top of this immediate biological response to separation is the frightening experience of watching a caregiver undergo severe emotional upheaval.

“When a child sees a parent frightened, it is extremely threatening,” said Lisa Berlin, an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and co-author on a study published in 2011 examining the effects of mother-child separation on children under two years old. Regarding that study, Berlin notes that some of the participants experienced planned separations that were done “in an orderly way.” By contrast, she says, “this is chaos.”

The conditions under which these undocumented minors are now living are varied and unclear, but ProPublica obtained audio suggesting that the children are under duress.

“It sounds like, from what we’re hearing, that there aren’t people there to help console them and help them self-soothe, which would be something that would be really key to help offset those biological responses [to stress],” said Erin C. Dunn, a social and psychiatric epidemiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Genomic Medicine.

The situation is a case study in what psychologists call “attachment,” and it’s the reason why children who are separated from their primary caregivers desperately need replacement care.

“In early childhood, young children believe that their parents can protect them from anything, and that’s actually what allows them to feel safe enough to explore the world,” Ippen said. “When that safe base is disrupted, you might see a child who is very anxious, or who is clingy, or you might see a child who goes off and recklessly explores the world. This is the crux of attachment theory.”

Attachment theory is a set of ideas developed in the early 1950s by British psychiatrist John Bowlby. “It’s an explanation of why we are the way we are,” Berlin said. “[Bowlby] said that a big determining factor has to do with how much we can rely on our primary caregiver when we really, really need them. We need them for physical safety and because we’re young and immature and we can’t make sense of our world without their help.”

Berlin says that many rigorous research projects since Bowlby’s original writings have demonstrated that these ideas make sense; in other words, empirical evidence has confirmed his theory, as well as how a child’s future development is based on these patterns formed early on.

“Even when children are in the care of parents who may not be able to meet their needs or to keep them safe, they still organize their behaviors and thinking around these relationships and go at great lengths to maintain them,” said Carmen Rosa Noroña, Child Trauma Clinical Services and Training Lead of Boston Medical Center’s Child Witness to Violence Project. Moreover, when these attachment relationships are suddenly subverted and there is no other adult who can help the child make meaning—or a story—of what has happened, the child might experience not only a sense of confusion and terror but might also blame himself or herself for losing the parent.

“All they know is that the people who were there to protect them and help with every little thing are no longer there,” Berlin said.

Parents, of course, face similar trauma. Especially in Latin America, the concept of motherhood is heavily linked to the idea of the self-sacrificing woman. “[That identity] permeates across the countries in Latin America,” said Gabrielle Oliveira, an assistant professor at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College and an expert on the concept of “transnational motherhood,” or the notion that women can engage in the care of their children across borders. Oliveira says that women who decide to migrate with their children to a new country usually view it as a safer option for the whole family than staying put.

“If the very beneficiary of that crossing gets taken from them, it defeats the entire purpose,” Oliveira said. Yet another layer of guilt gets added to the equation. “That is so beyond traumatic.”

Dunn says that what has happened is especially scary because evidence suggests that the effects of stress and trauma vary based on the age of the child—the youngest children may be the most vulnerable.

“The scientific evidence against separating children from families is crystal clear,” she said. “No one in the scientific community would dispute it—it’s not like other topics where there is more debate among scientists. We all know it is bad for children to be separated from caregivers. Given the scientific evidence, it is malicious and amounts to child abuse.”

Noroña agrees.

“It’s a form of systemic violence, and it’s becoming normalized,” she said.

This article was edited on June 21 for clarity.

A young girl holds a sign during a demonstration outside of the San Francisco office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on June 19, 2018 in San Francisco, California.



Inside the Brains of Children Separated from Parents | NOVA PBS Official | Published on Jun 25, 2018

Even brief separations can impair the brain development of a young child or infant.

Guest post by Fern Champion: The government thinks it is doing enough to fund Rape Crisis centres. My story shows they are wrong.

“It has long been known that 1 in 5 women will be raped, or nearly raped in her lifetime. It is now abundantly clear that the vast majority of those women will not be able to access support services crucial to their recovery. Enough is enough. We all have a duty to fight this so I am asking you now, write/tweet/send an owl to your local MP and ask them if they will be attending the APPG on Sexual Violence on the 17 July. Ask them if they will hear my story and help me to create something positive from what has been an almighty shitshow of the last two years. Your MP will represent so many women with stories like mine, maybe even you yourself have a story like mine, so let those stories be heard.

Please don’t let me continue talking to an empty room.”

The Secret Barrister

I am honoured to host this guest post by Fern Champion. Fern is next week giving evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual Violence, speaking from her own experience about the widespread problems in accessing Rape Crisis centres. This is Fern’s story.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried to do this. To tell my story and have it listened to. To engage with police, insurance companies, support services, employers, and friends across the globe.

I need to talk to the police” I said to the girl working on the reception of the hostel I was staying at in Kuala Lumpur, as I walked in clutching my bra in my hands.

“I’ve been raped” I said on the phone to the British Embassy Consulate the next day, after spending the last 24 hours either with the police or in hospital.

“I’ve missed my flight because…

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Future of #Brexit — Counter Information


After the resignation of the two Brexiteers, David Davis and Boris Johnson in the UK, several scenarios are possible – and they will ALL lead to chaos in the UK. By Karsten Riise Global Research, July 10, 2018 Change Management Note to readers: please click the share buttons above Possible UK scenarios The weakness of Ms. […]

via Future of Brexit — Counter Information

If You Want To Appeal A Failed PIP Assessment

“Here is a tip from Fightback.

If you have failed to gain an award for PIP and want to appeal or do not agree with the decision, then our advice to give you maximum time, is to ring the DWP to ask for the assessors report tell them that you do not know if you are appealing or not and will wait for the assessors report to make that decision. When the date is a few days away for return, (1 month from the date on the decision letter) then ring them and tell them that you have decided to appeal, are doing so in writing and they will then open up the date for another 30 days more, giving you the “extension” although they will not call it an extension as such it is and buys you more time.”

Same Difference

Here is a tip from Fightback.

If you have failed to gain an award for PIP and want to appeal or do not agree with the decision, then our advice to give you maximum time, is to ring the DWP to ask for the assessors report tell them that you do not know if you are appealing or not and will wait for the assessors report to make that decision. When the date is a few days away for return, (1 month from the date on the decision letter) then ring them and tell them that you have decided to appeal, are doing so in writing and they will then open up the date for another 30 days more, giving you the “extension” although they will not call it an extension as such it is and buys you more time.

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Race equality groups seek big changes to the mental health act to end stereotyping and over-medication

“It is to be hoped that Sir Simon and Theresa May do take action to remedy these many faults in the system. Otherwise it will be another case of political posturing like help for the ” just about managing” which has so far amounted to warm words and little else.”

David Hencke

Simon_Wessely-300x300 Sir Simon Wesseley, planning to report on reviewing the mental health act later this year


While Theresa May is battling to hold her line on Brexit her almost unreported initiative to reform the mental health act is leading to demands for the government to introduce radical reforms for treatment and new rights for patients.

A submission from Race on the  Agenda and the Race Equality Foundation to the review  by Sir Simon Wesseley, set up by Theresa May to look into why so many black Afro Caribbean people were being detained in mental hospitals and the need for changes to the Act. It also comes against a disturbing background of deaths in police custody.

The submission has been backed by the Runnymede Trust;Patrick Vernon OBE, Chair of the Labour Party’s Race Equality Advisory Group, writer Amy Kenyon and Professor Rachel Tribe, of the School of Psychology…

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They Fuck You Up Your Mom and Dad

The Most Revolutionary Act

philip-larkinPhilip Larkin


This be the verse

by Philip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn By fools in old-style hats and coats,

Who half the time were soppy-stern

And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.

It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

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MPs To Demand Government Apology For Forced Adoptions In The UK

Researching Reform

A debate on the practice of Forced Adoptions is to be held in the House of Commons, on Thursday, 12th July, 2018. The topic was chosen by the Backbench Business Committee.

The backbench MPs responsible for bringing forward the debate will also call on the government to issue an apology for the practice.

Whilst details of the debate seem to suggest that the discussion will focus only on non recent forced adoption practices – for example, women pressured into handing over their babies for adoption during the 1960s – the exact title of the debate leaves the door open for wider debate, which should and must include modern day practices around forced adoption.

The motion tabled by the cross-party backbench MPs calls for recognition of the “pain and suffering that the practice of forced adoption caused many women from the 1960s onwards”.

We therefore urge everyone with an interest…

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#Einstein’s Theory of #Gravity Passes Toughest Test to Date!

Einstein’s Theory of Gravity Passes Toughest Test to DateMike Wall | LIVE SCIENCE &


Massive objects, such as galaxies, warp space-time, according to Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Credit: University of Warwick


Einstein’s theory of general relativity has passed its toughest-ever test with flying colors, a new study reports.

General relativity, which the great physicist proposed in 1916, holds that gravity is a consequence of space-time’s inherent flexibility: Massive objects distort the cosmic fabric, creating a sort of well around which other bodies orbit.

Like all scientific theories, general relativity makes testable predictions. One of the most important is the “equivalence principle” — the notion that all objects fall in the same way, no matter how big they are or what they’re made of. [Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Explained (Infographic)]


Researchers have confirmed the equivalence principle many times on Earth — and, famously, on the moon. In 1971, Apollo 15 astronaut David Scott dropped a feather and a hammer simultaneously; the two hit the gray lunar dirt at the same time. (On Earth, of course, the feather would flutter to the ground much later than the hammer, having been held up by our atmosphere.)

But it’s tough to know if the equivalence principle applies in all situations — when the objects involved are incredibly dense or massive, for example. This wiggle room has given hope to adherents of alternative gravity theories, though such folks remain in the minority.

The new study could take some of the air out of their optimism. An international team of astronomers tested the equivalence principle under extreme conditions: a system composed of two superdense stellar corpses known as white dwarfs and an even denser neutron star.

The neutron star is a fast-spinning type known as a pulsar. These exotic objects are so named because they seem to emit radiation in regular pulses. This is just an observer effect, however; pulsars blast out radiation continuously, from their poles, but astronomers’ instruments pick these beams up only when they’re directed at Earth. And because pulsars spin, they can direct their poles toward Earth at regular intervals.

The system in question, known as PSR J0337+1715, is located 4,200 light-years from Earth, in the direction of the constellation Taurus. The pulsar, which rotates 366 times per second, co-orbits on the interior with one of the white dwarfs; the pair circles a common center of mass every 1.6 Earth days. This duo is in a 327-day orbit with the other white dwarf, which lies much farther away.

The pulsar packs 1.4 times the sun’s mass into a sphere the size of Amsterdam, whereas the interior white dwarf harbors just 0.2 solar masses and is about the size of Earth. So, they’re very different objects — but they should be pulled by the outer white dwarf in the same way if the equivalence principle is on the money.

The researchers tracked the pulsar’s movements by monitoring its radio-wave emissions. They did this for six years, using the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope in the Netherlands, the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

“We can account for every single pulse of the neutron star since we began our observations,” study leader Anne Archibald, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam and the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, said in a statement. “And we can tell its location to within a few hundred meters. That is a really precise track of where the neutron star has been and where it is going.”

A violation of the equivalence principle would manifest as a distortion in the pulsar’s orbit — a difference between the neutron star’s path and that of its interior white-dwarf companion. This distortion would cause the pulsar radiation to arrive at a slightly different time than expected.

But the researchers didn’t detect any such distortion.

“If there is a difference, it is no more than 3 parts in a million,” co-author Nina Gusinskaia, a doctoral student at the University of Amsterdam, said in the same statement.

“Now, anyone with an alternative theory of gravity has an even narrower range of possibilities that their theory has to fit into in order to match what we have seen,” Gusinskaia added. “Also, we have improved on the accuracy of the best previous test of gravity, both within the solar system and with other pulsars, by a factor of about 10.”

The new study was published online today (July 4) in the journal Nature.