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Smacking Part 5

February 3, 2012
by

So – the weekend was awful. I still was very teary.

I was fairly traumatised by my Police interview as well I think and I kept catching myself staring off into the distance thinking.

Ella would keep asking me – are you daydreaming mama? ūüôā

I just turned things over and over in my mind. What I could have done to avoid this happening, had I done anything wrong? Should I parent differently? What did they think of me? Would anyone else know? Who else would be involved? What would happen next?

We took the girls to the park on the Sunday afternoon and obviously – because now was JUST the right time! – ¬†ran into some family occasion of one of the teachers from the school. Of course! It was the teacher who had been in the room opposite when we were waiting in the family room. She had been acting deputy head the year before and also Rowan’s reception teacher, so she knew us fairly well. Obviously we have a daily childminder so she didn’t know us as well as she may know some parents – but we had met many times – parents evenings, days off etc. and she certainly knew we were there. And her daughter, G, was at the school too.

I was mad with her. Petty maybe. But she represented the school. I was angry and hurt and I felt that she could have (facially anyway) been more supportive that evening. Some kind of sympathy would have been good. And in the park? A smile?? Too much to ask?

Rowan suddenly yelled out – there’s G there’s G!! pointing to this teacher’s little girl and ran over to them – I saw her, she saw me. No hint of anything. No smile, no engagement. We stayed on the bench we were on and after a couple of minutes I called Rowan and Ella back over and we left.

Whatever. I remember thinking – just whatever. Fuck you all.

We tried to be normal for them. I tried. We laughed and played all weekend. Did normal stuff and then all too suddenly it was Sunday evening which I was dreading and waiting for all at the same time.

It seemed to take an age and go at hyperspeed all at once. I watched the clock all through the night. I went to work like a zombie. Had to go all through explaining to my team what was happening. They have worked for me for a long time and one of them had phoned me knowing something was going on, on the Friday evening before Рoffered support etc. And I just tried my hardest to work all morning until suddenly at around 10.30, my mobile went and it was Dave calling.

He was good. As good as he could be. He wasn’t all ‘we’re the best of friends now I know you don’t abuse your kids’ but he was more pleasant that he needed to be I think. He offered words of support. Again he asked me if I was going to change the way I parented and this time I gave him the answer that he wanted. Because I just wanted it over.

I asked what would happen with Childrens¬†Services and he said that he had already called them before calling me so I should expect a call from them shortly. He seemed so positive. In response to me he said he couldn’t say they would definitely drop everything as PPU¬†and CH Services are separate but he didn’t have any criminal reason for them to remain focused on me.

So I just waited.

And waited. And waited.

And waited.

Finally at around 2.30 in the afternoon, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I called CS and asked to speak to Anna. She wasn’t there.

She wasn’t even fucking there.

I asked if anyone had access to her cases, if she’d left notes that I could be updated with. Anything. Eventually they put me through to a Principal Practitioner, who is basically like the Branch Manager of their unit. She explained that although Anna was newly qualified (I was right that she was new) she was managing her own cases, didn’t have to report decisions to anyone¬†and as she hadn’t yet had a chance to write up her report, she was unable to give me any information.

She recognised that it was urgent to me¬†and that Dave had called to let me know there was no Police interest and that obviously I was anxious for news and took my mobile number and said she would pass on the message. But that I shouldn’t expect to hear from Anna until Tuesday or maybe Wednesday.

ūüė¶

I just broke down. I was so weary already, that breaking down for me had become just this limp, wilting feeling. Silent tears running. I had basically done nothing but cry for almost 4 straight days and I was exhausted. As if being pregnant with two children and a baby wasn’t tiring enough, I wasn’t eating or sleeping. I was constantly dizzy and queasy and just feeling like a zombie. I couldn’t concentrate. There was no way I was working. I was just – nothing.

I left a message for BN and then because I had to talk to someone, I called my friend, C. I hadn’t spoken to her directly since the Thursday evening at the school, although BN had updated her – and I just really needed a friendly voice.

First thing she did, was say we should look at the website of the school and look at their Child Protection Policy. She got all business awesome like and felt that the way we had been treated was unusual in her experience and unwarranted considering the lack of severity of the injury and this was when it all started to get interesting.

We loaded up the site together, located their CPP and started to read. Their online CPP clearly stated (although the document itself was not very clear in places and desperately needed updating) that unless ‘Significant Harm’ was suspected then the parents of a child should always be notified BEFORE Childrens Services are called. We were both instantly like – dude – hang on a minute! I should have been called??

I should have been called??

 I should have been called!!

One of the most distressing things about that entire day was getting a call from my childminder to say that the girls were not being released into her care. She had no details, she was upset. It was not the calm, informed call it should have been for me. Not her fault at all. Another thing – getting to that family room and seeing the note on the girls’ stuff¬†that made it clear something had been going on for hours and we hadn’t known anything.

And then this. These are the details that I left out earlier because it would have got too confusing.

Information at the school – information they had given to Childrens Services and the Police had been incorrect, in more than one place.

Background¬†– The school are highlighted as having Outstanding Child Protection Status due to their invention of a specific form that is a different colour to usual paperwork and used in every instance of suspected child abuse or even any child injury noticed at the school that is sustained outside of school premises. This form, is filled out by a member of staff and then goes directly to the Family Liaison Officer. We later found out that the school instruction is that it should be the member of staff involved directly¬†with the discovery of an injury or the member of staff that has dealt with the child. Once with the FLO, she¬†will should¬†then (following the CPP that the school have written and placed on the website) call the Parents of the child (unless Significant Harm’ is suspected) and then Childrens¬†Services is an optional extra depending on what the FLO feels after speaking to the parents. This is what should happen. As per their CPP at that time.

Their CPP did state that they were able to call CS for advice on occasion, before contacting the parents, if they felt that something was not clear cut or if the FLO felt there were grey areas and the school required clarification.

It is then common place once this has happened for one of two things to follow.

Either

CS will decide that the information they have been given does not require their presence and will advise the school in how to proceed or advise for the school to deal with it on their own

– OR –¬†

Childrens Services will say on these ‘advisory calls’ this sounds like something we should be involved in – DO or DO NOT call the parents, we will be sending someone etc. and then take it from there.

In our case we¬†found out that CS were¬†called for advice, they *did* say they were sending someone even though the FLO, Clare, didn’t specifically request that as the purpose of her call but they DID NOT say that we shouldn’t be contacted and informed what was happening. This call happened at around 1pm on the Thursday.

So that was the first thing.

Secondly – we had found out on the kick off evening, the information the school’s form¬†contained was wrong. A conversation with Clare,¬†the¬†FLO, before the Police arrived highlighted there were details that weren’t correct but it was really the conversation with the Police and Anna before the girls were interviewed that made it clear there were major problems.

I told my¬†solicitor about it after the Police interview and he called it ‘monumental distortion of fact’. The¬†same conversation in which he had said the school appeared to have waded in unnecessarily.¬†It was one of the reasons that CS and the Police had been so interested in the first place. The form was filled out by ET, Ella’s form tutor who had NOT been in the room when I dropped her off. I had not seen or spoken to her and she¬†had been given no direct information by me whatsoever. Mrs H, the teaching assistant, I *had* seen in Ella’s class was mentioned nowhere on the form whatsoever. Secondly the form implied that ET *had* spoken to me directly and the information was first hand.

The form said that when I dropped Ella off at school that Ella was visibly not her usual self. Not true. She was smiling and laughing with her friends at my side whilst I talked to Mrs H. It stated that I had described grabbing a milk carton from Ella’s hand and had injured her finger in the process that morning. Absolutely not true. I never said anything of the sort. The form stated that Ella said I had smacked her and hurt her finger. Therefore our stories didn’t match which was a worry to the PPU and Ch Services. The form also stated that Rowan had been in the ‘feelings corner’ and been quiet in the morning and that when discussing with her teacher she had said that I had been cross, told Ella off, hurt her finger and that Ella didn’t deserve it and that she was worried. Now I don’t doubt that Rowan was a bit worried – but she is known to milk things rather, so whether she needed to be in the feelings corner or whether she just felt like sitting out the lessons for the day… well!

We were made aware along the way through discussions with various people, that¬†Rowan’s description of the event and the fact that she used the phrase of Ella not deserving it, coupled with my apparent lie when I left her at school, of how the injury occurred not correlating with Rowan & Ella’s description¬†meant that CS had to be called.

Now I want to make it really clear – again, as I did with practically every professional I spoke to – these measures should be in place. They should. People hurt children. Parents hurt children. And that is wrong. And I absolutely, desperately want that to stop along with every other normal person and mother and parent. People that work with children should be vigilant. They absolutely should.

But they should be vigilant in every aspect of protecting that child AND the family if necessary and that vigilance should also encompass the information they present to professional departments. The school severely let us down over this aspect.

Schools and people who look after children, also have a duty to be truthful. And I have no doubt here, and also some evidence, that information and circumstances were deliberately manipulated to create intrigue and concern and doubt. A lot of the information was distorted by inexperience and by accident, I have no doubt of that, but there was gross incompetence at play and also serious judgements and lack of sensible judgement from some involved that meant things took a far more serious turn than they should have.

So at this point in the saga, I am still waiting to hear from Childrens Services. I am still a wreck.

It is Monday evening. The girls are playing in their room whilst I’m in the bathroom with Kit, running a bath and then there’s a thud. And a scream. And then Ella ran into the bathroom, Rowan was hysterical. I lifted Ella onto the laundry basket to look at her head as I understood their frantic babble…

She had nothing, but as I lifted her fringe, blood started leaking down her face. She had a hole in her head It was clear after only a few seconds that she had to go to A&E. At the front door 5 minutes later, I handed her to BN’s open arms and she screamed for me to take her and I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it.

I just kept saying, Daddy will take you, I need to stay with the baby….

I was being left at home under the supervision agreement with my children that I wasn’t supposed to be alone with – and for the second time in 4 days my child, the same child, was going to A&E with an injury and I was totally panic stricken that we were about to be majorly investigated as it was! let alone adding to it with anything else.

I was already damaged by this point – even though she was crying for me not to stay at home, I made BN take her because I was too scared to go.

So wrong. And so unfair.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. mumof4 permalink
    February 3, 2012 4:13 pm

    Well at least you KNOW at this stage that the school has acted wrongly. The timing of her poor head accident – which could have happened to anyone, just sucks and I completely get why you didn’t take her to A&E and also that you were then going against the rules by being alone with the other kids…… terrible that you were put in that predicament in the first place…… when I see you have posted another part of the story i both love and loathe the idea of reading any further…..

  2. February 6, 2012 9:52 pm

    We had a strong suspicion by now that we’d not been treated as we should have but it just dragged on so much. X

  3. February 7, 2012 10:52 am

    SO horrified by this story, haven’t been able to get it out of mind. But so SO glad you are blogging again! Hx

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