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Logging files on looked after children destructive

2nd Oct 2008 | in Looked after Children

Over the last year I have read several files of looked after children dating from the 80’s until present day and ranges from London to outside the London Boroughs and it’s shocking. Let me start with how social workers write about children in their care because this is not only very important but there is a pattern that emerges from every file I have seen to date. A child in care is written about every day in various homes or institutions and regularly by social workers in their social services records. Persecution, unsubstantiated remarks and comments are written in such an appauling manner that I felt this needs to be addressed. Let me give you a classic example which I have found in all the files in some form or another and I will not be using the real identity of the looked after child and family in this case and this is just an example I randomly picked out amongst many

SS file = Rang to get update on Tammy. Aparently went back to c home with a brand new watch and staff say its stollen. She didn’t have any money and claims it was a gift from her Auntie. No one could confirm how it had been obtained as it wasn’t her birthday and Aunt wasn’t in to confirm story. Staff unhappy with Tammy and her disruptive attitude. Will book meeting with home next week.

* Documented in files when Tammy was five years old. Stole an expensive ink pen from teacher but it was later returned on the desk. Tammy denies it was her.

(In the homes file = Tammy waltzed in flashing her new watch and refused to say where she got it from. Questioned later about it and asked if it was stollen. Looked at me very sheepish then goes off into a tangent and swears blind it was a gift from auntie. Got stroppy when questioned further and stamped out of the room slamming the door cursing that she is being picked on and what a bunch of wankers we are. Discovered the watch was probably stollen after a trip to the shops earlier with Aunt. Aunt not privvy to her usual behaviour

Two days later = Aunt Beaty visited T who was greeted by a very manipulative young lady doing her usual on playing one off against the other. Had a word with angry Aunt in the office about watch and told her we had not accused Tammy of stealing the watch. Aunt confirmed it was a gift and cost £5. Aunt left and was given a run down of T behaviour T is now demanding an appology and has stormed out ranting and raving

Later that day = Returned with a sour face refused to talk to staff still demanding an appology. Attention seeking PM and complaining to other children about watch and staff.

Two weeks later there are no records of an appology by the staff which clearly outraged Tammy as she was being wrongfully accused and social services were informed that it was stollen and no matter what Tammy said they had already branded her a thief and refused to acknowledge they got it wrong. Everyone refused to listen to her. There are no records correcting the wrongful accusation of theft documented by the social worker and to no suprise a year later Tammy had a change of social worker and six months later was moved to a different home.

Social worker reported in the social services file that Tammy was known to be light fingered and has stollen in the past.

I looked over that file with a fine toothed comb and I could not find anywhere in any file that showed Tammy had stollen and even the school pen incident was never proved it was Tammy.

Tammy spent years being branded a liar and a thief at every place she went to thereafter and this is a classic in the care files of looked after children and doesnt include the more serious failures in the documenting of files by carers and social workers which I will highlight in my next blog.

This is consistent in all the care files by social workers and carers that I have seen and I know many other professionals come across this in files they have seen and this would not be allowed if it were a child not in care and who attends for example, school.

Could you imagine what it would be like for children who are not in the care system if their parents kept daily diaries of their childrens every day behaviour and if teachers also kept a diary and added anything they want to. If every child had to leave school with inches thick files all about their every little behaviour, mood or disagreement they would all be horrified as it would go against them. Every child in this country would be branded a liar, thief, trouble maker, attention seeker and the list goes on at some point unless of course the child is a perfect saint. No child is a saint because behaviour changes are part of growing up but sadly they are used against the looked after child in the most appauling manner.

There are things that should be documented and things that should not and this ability to brand every child in the care system by innacurate, totally unsubstantiated allegations and accusations written in their files is painting a made up version of that child created by the very writers themselves, the carers and social workers and whats more alarming is when seniors read it and then add their comments on the child they have never met and just go along with what they read. It’s like a game of chinese whispers. I’m sure we all remember that game. An innocent comment is easily taken out of context and before you know you have a totaly different version by the time it gets to the end.

This needs to stop and how files are documented needs a serious revamp because those innacurate logs go against that child not only throughout their life in care but also when they leave care and is one of the most used things against a looked after child when they become an adult. That has then labeled the child and adult for life causing so many problems that if a child is sexually abused in the care system when they do reach adulthood and want to deal with the abuse they find their files go against them at every corner.Before you know it they are branded a fantasist and liar and they end up having to fight not only to get justice for the abuse they have suffered which is being disbelieved because of the logs but they also have totry and prove the files are not accurate when it is being used against them to prevent any form of justice for the child abused. If that child is sexually abused in care those comments, innacurate logs and personal opinions (which seem to be much worst in files of those who do not get on with their social worker or carers) are one of the most used things against the victim as an adult and allows child abusers to roam free within the care system and makes it almost impossible to get justice and many more children end up abused as a direct result

That is something I am sadly very familiar with myself after reporting rape to the staff of Kendall House amongst many other things and the ones who didnt get on with me or had never even met me were in fact the ones who turned it into me being a liar and fantasist and they got it wrong. What I want to say is that because of their actions that man went on to re-abuse. What repulses me is what those members of staff wrote about me and I am not going to forget, how can I. My situation is something many children from the care system have gone through and also have to face when reading their files and I have alot to say on that but for now all I want to say is that I am going to fight as hard as I can for changes so that staff/carers involved in ignoring child abuse or prevent justice are prosecuted even in historic abuse. There is no excuse.

You do not have to physically take part in abuse to be part of the wrong doing

Comments

  • On 5th Jul 2008 at 10:38 AM Mac said...

    Very good comment Teresa and so true, I was called a liar and thief and that was used to stop me speaking out, Now people now i was neither

  • On 5th Jul 2008 at 10:42 AM Teresa said...

    Should social workers and professionals be given training on documenting in files? This should include mental health workers who also document their personal opinions and it is seen and misused at a later date and used against victims if abuse has been alledged

  • On 5th Jul 2008 at 11:37 PM sam said...

    hi

  • On 30th Sep 2008 at 02:58 PM Barbara said...

    My social worker wrote that I waved goodbye to her too over enthusiastically, moaning about it as if there was something wrong about it. I liked my social worker, I trusted her and I thought that she was my friend, I always felt sad when she had to go. Maybe I was stupid and naive, but that is how I felt at thge time, I was genuinly fond of her and considered her to be my friend. I was really upset about what she had written about me, it hurt a lot, I felt like I had been stabbed in the back. Another thing she wrote is that I pretended to fall down some stairs and that I was an actress. I really did fall down the stairs - I was quite a clumsy girl at times, and that really hurt as well.

    She also said things about me being boy mad. She put some nonsense on my file about me having a conversation with another girl about eyeing up boys that was total bollox. I would never have said what she reported me as saying in her records - I haven't changed that much, and I would never have said what she reported me as saying. It looks like she wrote some things down that I confided to her, then elaborated on them herself, using the sort of language and mentality that she herself would have used!

    Why on earth do they do this? I really liked and trusted that woman, so much that I almost confided with her about what my brother was doing to me. It was a massive shock to read the nasty things she wrote about me - it's just so unnecessarily malicious. I don't think she was a nice woman after all now - she looked nice, but now I think she was a lying cow.

  • On 5th Oct 2008 at 01:50 AM Jonathan Yates said...

    This has happen to me when i got my case file from social services it was all lies and make out you something you not, called me sexel abuse and saying that i threat shop keepers with knifes.

    I made complain to stage 3 which prove there was no edvicene to this claims but people look at me as somebody i am not because there where cover up abuse from years ago. I recived lot of harresment from community but there lie to people and if carers are in it too. The system needs to change because let young people down and make young people at risk too

  • On 5th Oct 2008 at 06:51 AM Teresa said...

    Hi Sam

    Jonathan I dont know any care leaver who has recieved their files and been happy with them. The staff’s perception is often misleading and yes innacurate at times.

    In my files there’s some fantastic lies by the staff and you can see where they have lied over and over again as they try and cover their tracks. You can’t miss the lies. I had to laugh at a couple of lies because the staff were so negligent they tried to cover it up and failed miserably.

    What made me laugh is they brand us fantasists and liars and they are in fact the fantasists and liars.

    I would love to see lie detectors given to the staff in institutions and homes.

    I would love to see the staff who are still alive that worked at Kendall House given lie detector tests. I’d like to be the one that chooses the questions they are asked too.

  • On 5th Oct 2008 at 07:21 AM michaelmac said...

    A suggestion why dont you all email the mps in parliament asking why they allow social services to lie in their reports, And put the lies on the email, You can do this by going to mens aid and using the parliamentary mega phone

  • On 5th Oct 2008 at 09:35 PM Barbara said...

    I’ve used the parliamentary megaphone quite a lot. I’ve had plenty of replies, usually beginning with, “Due to strict Parliamentary convention, I am not allowed to respond ...”. What a cop out!

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