The term collateral damage was originally the unintentional deaths and injuries of people who are not soldiers, and damage that is caused to their homes, hospitals, schools, etc during military action. It has now become widened to any damage incidental to an activity. Our child protection system increasingly causes collateral damage. Here are just some areas where it does harm and without evidence that it reduces harm to children:
- increasing numbers harmed by unfounded investigations where there is no significant harm or risk of future harm. In England the number of unfounded investigations tripled from 45,000 to 134,500 in the 10 years from 2009/10 to 2018/19. In Scotland* between 2015/16 and 2017/8 an increase from 66% to 73% of investigations were unfounded . See the effects in this powerful video
- the collateral consequences for parents of losing a child include harm to mother’s physical and mental health and there is an increase in dying early and much more.
- harm to siblings and children involved
I lost my Mum too. They took my sister into care, but then they took away my Mum emotionally. She was so busy trying to work with them, she didn’t have much left for us. I hated them for that. I missed my Mum.
- See this report on 12 families in Gloucestershire “a small sample of the total number of parents who have shared similar experiences.” The report gives a short summary of the collateral damage experienced by these families who were accused of fabricating of inducing illness in their child. One of the findings was that:
Impact: In every case these parents (and their children) have experienced high levels of distress that has had a huge impact on their lives, including feelings of deep anxiety, fear, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are common, financial loss, loss of career and sadly in some cases eventual breakdown of the family unit. It has affected how they feel about the services they require and their ability to request help and support. The impact of making such allegations must not be underestimated. Professionals should be very sure of their ground before making such allegations.
- More ….
* excludes 1 local authority that did not produce data