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ukfamilysolicitor, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor Currently specialising in Family. Also experienced in Corporate, Employment, Civil Litigation, Debt Recovery
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My wife and I care for a grandchild who has violent

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My wife and I care for a grandchild who has violent outbursts and who is subject to a Child Protection order under the term Emotional Abuse (by her mother). The child has caused injury to my wife to the extent of her being referred to hospital by her GP. In one such incident the child attacked my wife violently - punching, kicking, scratching and biting. My wife defended herself from harm by pulling him away from her, by removing one of his shoes while he was in the act of kicking and giving him a smack on the bottom. The smack was not hard. It was over trousers and caused no mark. The smack was, however, sufficient to distract him. He had been biting her and in order to stop him she bit him back on his wrist which was being held across her face. The bite she gave was not hard and left no mark, but it did make him release her from the bite. The bite he gave my wife was hard and caused quite severe bruising although did not break the skin.
Because the child is under the category of Emotional Abuse she reported this to the Social Services case worker. However, Social Services have now put the child under the category of Physical Abuse as a result of my wife's self defense.
The child is 11 years old, quite big for his age and when violent can be very difficult to deal with. My wife has also been told that she cannot restrain him. Faced with such extreme assault (it has been termed as such by our GP and the hospital) my wife, who is 67 and slight in build, has no method of escaping further injury.
How do we deal with Social Services on this matter?


Welcome to Just Answer

I am a Solicitor and will assist you.

It sounds like you are trying to do a god job in difficult circumstances with your grandson.

Please may I ask:

- Is the placement with you long term? do you have any type of order?eg special guardianship order?

- what is the position of the parents?

- what help and support are the local authority offering you?

kind regards


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you very much for your prompt reply.
To answer your questions:
The placement is not long term in the strictest sense. We are caring for the boy until such time as he can be reintroduced into his own home. There is are no special orders. We took the child into our care to protect his mother and siblings from harm in the home.
My step-daughter is a single parent, has two other children, both boys (aged 5 and 7 - in December).She is the subject to a Child Protection Plan under the category of Emotional Abuse. She has had great difficulty in coping alone with the children and managing her life generally. She has had two violent relationships which have had a serious impact on her mental condition.
The help given by Social Services has been and is, very limited in our view. Despite pressing for an assessment of the child by a Behavioural Therapist this has not been forthcoming and the issue is being 'papered over'.I hope this very, very brief description will be of some help to you.Thank you again.Philip Eaton

Hello Philip

Thank you for your response.

Please accept my apologies for my delay in responding to you.

There is a clear need for suport for your grandson given the circumstances.

The worry that I have is that if the placement with you, being his granparents, is not sustainable, and the risk to his other siblings aswell as the mothers issues are too great then foster care might have to be conisdered as an option in the future, if there are no other options or relatives that can care.

In relation to the current position, it is important that it is raised at the next child protection meeting as to the ongoing issues with your grandsons behaviour.

It does not sound like the police have been involved in your case and it is clear that you are trying to help in difficult circumstances.

You can certainy ask the local authority to provide extra help and support to assist you to care for your grandson. It is after all the local authorities main role to try and keep children within their birth families, when it is feasible to do so. For dealing with such difficult behaviour you need to be asking for the help of a family support worker to undertake some work with you all in respect of dealing with difficut behaviour.

Dependant on your grandsons presentation generally, including at school, then it may quite well be that further intervention is required in respect of his management. You need to explore all avenues including speaking to his GP about the specialist support that might be availabe for him in your area so that a referral can be made. The school may also be able to offer him counselling and support.

If the placement with you both does continue and it is later envisaged to become a long term placement - then you might want to consider putting the local authority on notice that you want to be his special guardians. This would involve an application to the court once you have given the local authority 3 months notice but taking such an action and obtaining such an order would mean that a support plan would be offered to you. This is not only just monetary payments each month but also a holistic package which can include respite etc.

Let me know if I can help yoou further or clarify anything for you.

kind regards


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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello Caroline, thank you for your further reply. We are completely up to speed with all that you have noted and advised but the issue we have revolves around the original question - where do we stand in relation to my wife's self defense during an attack and whether her actions can be termed as Physical Abuse, as Social Services have suggested. I need to know whether they can or cannot accuse my wife of Physical Abuse given the circumstances described above. The NSPCC definition of Physical Abuse does not seem to suggest that my wife's actions are abuse - after all, she has not maliciously or deliberately set out to inflict injury and has only acted to restrain him and protect herself in so doing. The boy is generally a bright and lively lad and can be very loving and caring and when he is not in a rage. After the attacks his is contrite. He displays none of the 'symptoms' associated with an abused child either at school or elsewhere and this has been acknowleged by the school representative on the Core Group panel. He has not suffered any injuries of any description. Indeed the only person at risk is my wife who 'takes it' and suffers the consequences. Oh, and Social Services have also stated that my wife (or me) should not restrain him, which I find, is quite remarkable.So, my concern, as you can see, is the allegation of Physical Abuse and whether that accusation by Social Services can in any way be upheld by them, or can we legitimately challenge them? The allegation has seriously upset my wife as you will appreciate.My thanks in advance for your advice, which is very much appreciated.Philip


Thank you for your response.

It appears as though the Child Protection Conference was of the view that the instance was inappropriate chastisement.

I have heard before that parents used to bite a child back if they were bitten - to teach then how it feels. I am not saying that this is what happened in your case but this too would also be deemed as inappropriate.

The reality is that the event has happened and it has come to the local authorities attention so it has to be addressed.

It might be that they offer your wife work around appropriate chastisement. Whatever is offered - its best to take up.

Although I dont want to sound against you - what you need to know is that if the local authority thought that the placement with you was unworkable - then they might be looking at foster care.

The local authority are looking at things from the view of your grandson and it might quite well be that his actions were the root cause but its still smething that has now happened. Once it can be demonstrated that there are no such further incidents then the catergory off physical abuse will likley come off. Its better to work with the local authority to this aim rather than against it.

let me know if I can help you further

kind regards


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