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Is this really happening?

From The Telegraph, Obese children to be put up for adoption; A couple may have their obese children removed after social services ruled they had not lost enough weight, by Nick Collins:

The mother and father of seven children, six of whom are overweight, face the "unbearable" prospect of never seeing their four youngest again if authorities act on a threat to remove them.

Three girls aged 11, five and one, and a boy aged five, are to be put up for adoption or "fostered without contact" because their parents failed to help them slim down.

This means the parents will be unable to trace them and the family could only be reunited if the children attempt to find their family when they are grown up.

Social services warned the couple three years ago that their children would be taken away from them if they did not bring their weight under control.

According to an article in The New American, Obese Children Removed from Home in Scotland, by Raven Clabough:

The family lived in government housing for two years, called a “Big Brother” house, where they were the subject of government scrutiny. A social worker was present during all meals to monitor the family, and imposed a strict curfew as well as set of rules regarding their lifestyle.

This 2008 story from the Mirror, Parents told to put their six obese children on a diet or face having them taken into care, by Mark Smith, appears to be about the same family.

A couple have been given three months to get three of their six overweight kids slimmer - or have ALL of them taken into care.

The warning centres on their fattest children - a 12-year-old son who is 16 stone, his 12st sister, 11, and a girl who weighs four stone aged just three.

This is taking place in Dundee, Scotland.

Why was this particular family being picked on? There must be plenty of families with two fat parents that have fat children - the genetic odds of that happening are 80%. How were they able to force the family to live under the supervision of social services? How is that legal? How could this possibly have been cost effective? And why do they think that taking these children away from their parents is going to magically change them into thin people? The family did what they wanted, and it didn't work!

Is weight really the main issue here, or is there something that isn't being mentioned in the news articles? This seems so extreme that it's hard to believe, especially given the fact that the heaviest kids weighed 11 stone, which is 168 pounds (around what I weighed at 11!) and 16 stone, which is 224 pounds.

I'll see if I can find out more about this tomorrow, but for now, here are some e-mail addresses at the Dundee Local Authority:

  • Dundee County chief executive David Dorward: david.dorward@dundeecity.gov.uk.
  • Dundee County public relations head Les Roy: les.roy@dundeecity.gov.uk
  • Dundee County education director Michael Wood: michael.wood@dundeecity.gov.uk
  • Dundee County Social Services direct Alan G. Baird: alan.baird@dundeecity.gov.uk

Also covered on Big Liberty and Fat and Not Afraid.

National Geographic Interviews Linda Bacon | PCA/ACA Fat Studies 2012 Call for Papers

richie79's picture
richie79
September 8th, 2011 | Link | There was quite a lot of

There was quite a lot of coverage of this in the Fatosphere (including on the Forums here at BFB) when it first made the headlines in 2008. At that point the parents narrowly avoided having their infant daughter taken away but it seems that the Council have, as the family's solicitor put it, 'locked horns' with this particular family, no doubt partly because they'd already spent over £250K persecuting them when the original story broke and in order to make an 'example' of them following a warning by the Local Government Association that such children would be routinely taken into care by Social Services.

This is a hideous injustice on so many levels. That there is a genetic component to the childrens' build seems apparent from the rear-view shot of the family being used to illustrate the various news stories. Given that Social Services only became involved at the request of the parents, who were seeking assistance in managing their youngest daughter's learning difficulties, the message seems to be not to contact the authorities for assistance under any circumstances, as it may well backfire. The colossal misuse of public money is all the more disgraceful given the current budgetary pressures facing local authorities and the failure of Dundee city council to protect several children from death and serious injury at the hands of their parents, and demonstrates the extent to which the anti-obesity crusaders have developed tunnel vision on their particular issue, seeing any and any means as being justified by the ultimate 'end' of making a fat person thin. Despite the family have complied with the initial demands by losing SOME weight (inevitable given the extreme stress environment in which they have been incarcerated), this has nevertheless deemed 'insufficient' to stave off further action by the Council.

Irrespective of whether you consider 'obesity' to be a form of physical abuse or not, the treatment of this family borders on psychological torture. Even the notoriously fatphobic Daily Mail commentariat seem outraged at the implications of this terrifying misuse of State power. The children have spent the last few years basically living with the clearly and repeatedly stated threat that if they dare gain weight they may never again see their parents or siblings. The parents have in turn been treated like criminals, subjected to restrictions on their movements and intensive monitoring of their every move. it appears that the social workers, vindictive in their determination to 'defeat' this family, have seized upon and twisted commonplace events (such as a child found 'crawling unsupervised' and placing items in her mouth) into evidence of serious abuse and neglect. The father, understandably unable to cope with living under supervision and suspicion 24/7 has now left his wife and children and is living elsewhere. How anyone can sit and argue with a straight face that this could in any universe be considered 'in the childrens' best interests' utterly enrages me.

Ultimately this IS all about fat prejudice and the substitution of evidence-based policy with reliance on stereotypes about and prejudice toward fat people, though it also has much wider implications regarding the power of Social Services to act as public health police (drinkers and smokers beware). Justification for the terrorisation of this family rests on a number of assumptions: that the fat children are at immediate serious risk of ill health (although some claim 'obesity' carries health risks, this is neither a foregone conclusion nor an inevitable death sentence); that parents CAN and SHOULD actively control their childrens' weight (and that they have failed in this), that the children will lose weight if taken into care or adopted by thin people, and that the benefits of making these children thin (if indeed this is possible) outweigh by a considerable degree the immense psychological injury inflicted upon the entire family by a draconian, unnecessary and thoroughly unjustifiable approach that seems to owe more to State-sanctioned, vindictive bullying than measured child protection policy.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

strawberry September 8th, 2011 | Link | From the article: Tam Fry,

From the article:

Tam Fry, honorary chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, said: ‘This is a disgrace. These parents have clearly attempted to comply. They have, if you like, played Dundee City Council’s game and yet they are still losing their children.’

When even Tam Fry is outraged, you know something is desperately wrong.

Don't Social Services have enough to do regarding children who are being beaten and starved by their parents, i.e., REAL child abuse?

Richie - or anyone else - can you tell us what would be the most effective way to protest this tyrannical treatment? Can we try to heap some international shame on this so-called social service? Of the above email addresses, are there any who have some power over this mess?

vesta44's picture
vesta44
September 8th, 2011 | Link | WTF are they going to do

WTF are they going to do with those kids when they take them away from their parents, give them to strangers to make them thin, and it doesn't happen? Are they going to take them away from those people and give them to another set of people to make them thin, ad infinitum? Since there isn't a safe, reliable way to turn most fat people permanently into thin people, how in the everloving hell do these asshats think they're going to be able to do it, just by giving these kids a new family? It doesn't work that way, unless they're planning on replacing the kids' genes at the same time (and, dammer, if they've come up with a way to do that, why the fuck aren't they trumpeting it from the rooftops?).

WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

moxie3's picture
moxie3
September 8th, 2011 | Link | Vesta, WTF, my same retort!1

Vesta, WTF, my same retort!1

Keechypeachy September 17th, 2011 | Link | What scares me is that there

What scares me is that there are people out there who would starve a kid rather than fail at making them lose weight. Not to mention the usual risks to kids in care. If those kids are in hell now, just wait till they hit the foster home. What a disgrace!

Wanderer's picture
Wanderer
September 22nd, 2011 | Link | (google) I have sad news for

(google)

I have sad news for you; this is NOT the same family. The 2008 family lost all of their kids to foster care in 2009.

Looks to me like the halls of power in Dundee need to be swept... Badly.

DeeLeigh's picture
DeeLeigh
September 23rd, 2011 | Link | Thanks, Wanderer. From the

Thanks, Wanderer. From the article:

The family from Dundee was split up by social workers following a meeting of the Children's Panel.

From the Dundee city website:

Panel members are volunteer members of the public who come from all walks of life and are appointed to serve on Children’s Hearings by Scottish Ministers on advice from the local Childrens Panel Advisory Committees... No formal qualifications are required.

Children are referred to the Reporter by Police, Social Workers, Schools etc, or indeed any person who knows a child in difficulties. The Reporter is appointed by the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration and usually has a legal background...
The "Grounds for Referral" which form the basis for calling the child to a Hearing are:

  • Child Beyond Control of Parents
  • Child Falling into Bad Association or Exposed to Moral Danger
  • Lack of Parental Care
  • Incest or Sexual Abuse
  • Physical Abuse
  • Failure to Attend School With Reasonable Excuse
  • Drink, Drug Offence, Solvent Abuse
  • Child Committing Offences
  • Motoring Offences

vesta44's picture
vesta44
September 23rd, 2011 | Link | Well, let's see now - how do

Well, let's see now - how do fat kids meet any of those standards for being removed from their parents:
1: Child beyond control of parents - unless these kids have access to money that their parents don't know about, they don't have access to food that their parents aren't feeding them, so if the parents aren't over-feeding the kids, and the kids aren't out buying food on the sly and stuffing their faces with it, this one is a no-go.
2: Child Falling into Bad Association or Exposed to Moral Danger - can't see it, parents aren't a bad association if they aren't drug addicts or criminals, and that goes for the moral danger as well. Nothing to see here, shall we move along to the next one.
3: Lack of Parental Care - hmmmm, I can see where they might, possibly try to use this one, as fat-phobes will say you're not caring for your kids if you let them get fat. But if you're making sure they have a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, good food to eat, health care, schooling, and you love your kids, even if they're fat, that's no excuse to play the "lack of parental care" card here.
4: Incest or Sexual Abuse - doesn't apply here
5: Physical Abuse - they probably think that letting your kids get fat is physical abuse, but really, they should be more concerned about kids who are beaten, yelled at, and belittled every day by their parents than kids who are fat.
6: Failure to Attend School With Reasonable Excuse - don't think this one applied either, the kids who were school age attended school.
7: Drink, Drug Offence, Solvent Abuse - doesn't apply here either
8: Child Committing Offences - the only offenses these kids committed was the offense of being fat, and I'm sorry, that's not a crime (yet).
9: Motoring Offences - again, doesn't apply here, none of the kids were old enough to drive and none of them even went joy-riding.
So for all of these reasons for kids to be reported, I don't see where these kids met any of the criteria, except in maybe number 3, lack of parental care. And I'm sorry, just because your kid is fat doesn't mean you aren't doing your best to take care of hir, and removing that child from zie's family and putting hir in the care of someone else doesn't guarantee that zie will become thin. And you've done psychological damage to that child by removing hir from a loving family, telling hir that zie doesn't deserve to stay with zie's family because zie is fat and must become thin, and when that doesn't happen, reinforcing how zie is a failure and must keep trying in order to be a worthy person (when zie was already a worthy person in zie's family's eyes).
Are any of the people on this "Children's Panel" professionals who are skilled in early childhood development, psychology, or the medical field? If not, who the hell are they to be deciding that they know what's best for children?

WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

richie79's picture
richie79
September 23rd, 2011 | Link | "Exposed to Moral

"Exposed to Moral Danger"

Well, there it is in black and white; the absolute crux of the matter. Dundee City Council, like the overwhelming majority of the population, consider fat to be immoral. 'Allowing' your kids to become fat is immoral. Fat people are immoral, period. Add to that the claims of 'lack of parental care' and 'physical abuse' and you've a perfect example of how dry lists of criteria conceived for an entirely different purpose can be twisted, misinterpreted and manipulated to justify pretty much anything the powers-that-be desire in the furtherance and pursuit of a particular agenda.

And Vesta, I share your concern that the same 'volunteer members of the public' who have been brainwashed into writing nasty comments on media obesity articles and of whom around three quarters would supposedly support tougher laws and measures against 'obese' people have been given the ability to arbitrate on whether someone is allowed to keep their children or not? Maybe appointees are screened for prejudice against all the usualprotected classes; I sincerely doubt, however, that that screening includes the almost universal prejudice against larger people.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

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