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Wow - she's been found guilty!  And the fathers alibi has been believed without checking!  Or she's been diagnosed with post partum depression without medical examination.  And nobody has yet checked out the paternal grandparents - abuse, statistically, often runs in families.  In the absence of a medical diagnosis it is also statistically more likely to have been the father.  

It is very dangerous to apply generalisations (or statistics) to such a situation.  The best that can be done is a close examination of the circumstances and assessment of the parents by trained and experienced professionals - not fool proof, but the best we can do. Unfortunately the low pay such work commands means that the work is often done by inexperienced, poorly trained professionals, or in a very hurried manner due to excessive caseloads.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 11th, 2008 at 04:45:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree.  Decisions in cases such as this are not made lightly or without the best investigation possible.  I once experienced a similar situation as an investigator when living in the UK.  I didn't conduct the law enforcement part of the investigation because it occurred off our military installation and the civilian mother (an American) was suspected in the child's death; however, I did work with the British authorities to keep the American side up to date on what was happening. The British system, at that time, dealt competently and compassionately (law enforcement, social services and medical) with all issues.  Medical evidence made it clear that trauma was not likely the result of an accident and that the mother was a proper suspect in the death. She was charged, tried in Crown Court, and convicted.  Other children in the family were sent back to the US to live with their grandparents and the mother served a year or two in prison.

I can make no judgements about the genuineness of the mother's remorse or other feelings about what she did (speaking of the convicted).  I'm sure no parent in their right mind wants to harm or neglect their children.  However, raising children is not easy and life's stresses can be great. Evidence of guilt or innocence is often difficult to determine when single (even fatal) incidents are involved, so I empathise with the child's parents and with those who are charged by society to make decisions in these cases.  Let us all hope they make the right ones.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Fri Jan 11th, 2008 at 09:49:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Decisions in cases such as this are not made lightly or without the best investigation possible.

I can't speak to the quality of these sort of investigations in the UK, but I (and Ivonne) can testify in detail to the sort of work that epitomizes them in both Florida and Ohio--

They are often beneath contempt.

-- The time and funds expended are almost always inadequate, and relate powerfully to the skin color and socioeconomic position of the victim and the accused.

-- As has been stated (correctly), the pay scales for investigative personnel are so poor that it is hard to fill the positions at all, let alone with competent people.

-- Emotional numbness is the only defense possible (other than a different job) for a case worker with a workload so huge that real justice is a bad joke.

Because of the above, these positions tend to select for people who can (or who already have) adopted that detached position. When hiring young social workers to fill such nightmare jobs, one has the feeling of being an emotional executioner.

A good friend of mine is a PhD psychologist with the  state of Florida, who has made it his business to represent the interests of the child in such cases. He must not become involved in the whole question of justice as it applies to the defendant or the parents, but seek only the best for the child. Considering the quality of the investigative work and the "justice" of the results in the  courts, he has told me that this detachment is very, very hard.  

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 09:30:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I'm sure many situations are less than ideal. Social work, in my experience, is poorly paid and there is entirely too much work for the staff employed.  The increasing ills of society together with less and less funds(in many locations) allocated for social programs does not make for a good mix.  There are constant reminders here (in the Wash DC area) in the press of cases where children have been repeatedly abused or neglected, often fatally so, while in the care of natural parents or with foster ones.  The social services are often blamed for inadequate supervision or followup in cases with a history, probably with justification, but my contention is that we get what we pay for and social programs are usually the first to get the budgetary ax when times are hard and the last to have funds restored.  I would guess that those of non-white skin color suffer the most on a per capita basis, but race and color don't make better parents nor do they guarantee a child's welfare. All too many children of all colors are subjected to abuse or neglect.  Although I did not investigate the fatal case I experienced in the UK, I did investigate quite a few other non-fatal ones, and I can assure you that my law enforcement portion of the matters was the easy part; and I don't mean to say that it was easy because I happened to be particularly caring or competent. The fact is that the real difficult problems lie with justice and social services decisions and their followup.  I don't have answers for these areas.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Jan 13th, 2008 at 08:39:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you mean to attach this to Mig's post?

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sat Jan 12th, 2008 at 05:35:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't see why not.

Maybe I'm quick to judge, but I can't see how she can escape a jedgement of at least "neglect" or "negligence" which according to the diary carries a 2 year prison sentence. I think it's unlikely the grandmother will quit smoking before February, and I think the child's own relatives on Slovakia might be better than foster care - apparently the child has already suffered a serious accident while on foster care.

Life sucks all around, what can I say?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 12th, 2008 at 05:50:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Life sucks all around, what can I say?

let the mother be presumed innocent until found guilty

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jan 12th, 2008 at 11:13:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are two legal principles that need to be balanced here: the presumption of innocence and the welfare of the child.

Guilty or not: this nuclear family has been devastated; it can no longer function. Placing the child with the maternal grandmother would necessarily constrain her contact with her daughter - just when the daughter is in most dire need of this.

Placing the child with the Slovakian grandmother might well be the best solution for all concerned.

As far as guilt goes, this story certainly has a there-but-for-fortune aspect. Life, law and society demand the impossible of us - that we be relentlessly vigilant. We all of us lapse in our vigilance from time to time; mostly it doesn't matter, nothing happens. Sometimes (surprisingly rarely, really, considering) it does matter - the half-second of inattention, the 10 seconds of distraction, and shit falls on us like a ton of bricks. Then life, society or the law - or any arbitrary combination thereof - punishes us. That is the fundamental unfairness of life.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sat Jan 12th, 2008 at 01:08:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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