Friday, June 05, 2009

Judge and CYF at odds

A judge remanded a 38 year-old mother in custody after she beat her son repeatedly with a soup ladle. But CYF wanted her bailed to continue to care for her other children. The judge turned that down and said he couldn't understand CYF's position. He intends to imprison the mother.

"Not enough is done about this sort of thing and this is an appalling assault on this poor boy," he said. "Imprisonment is inevitable."

The judge said he did not understand the position of Child, Youth and Family, which provided supporting evidence for the bail application.

"We have an epidemic in this country and this needs to be marked."

I would very much like to have heard more about CYF's supporting evidence. On the face of it I imagine CYF have supported bail because they believe the children are best left together, in their mother's care, for the time being. It may be that there is no ready alternative. It may be the alternative poses even greater risks. It may be that the mother has a particularly difficult relationship with the son but not the other children. But it frustrates me that we get statements like these from a judge set on sending a message. At the cost of the other children's wellbeing? Who is best placed to make that assessment. CYF or the judge?

This is in no way to be interpreted as a defensive comment regarding the woman's actions. They were reprehensible. But there is clearly a clash of interests at play, one that occurs frequently no doubt. Another judge who did "understand" CYF's position may very well have granted bail.

8 comments:

Shane Pleasance said...

In my experience, CYF have a very difficult job to do. They do an average job at best.

Anonymous said...

No, I say good on the judge for making a stand and the right choice. What's to stop the mother beating one of the other children with a soup ladle or worse? Good Call, well done, CYFS are not doing their job properly.

ZenTiger said...

Do you have a link to the story?

I presume the word "beating" means "beating" and was not a light tap leaving no marks or any damage, but was seen by the neighbour and reported....just clarifying...

Lindsay said...

Anon, Naturally that possibility will have been canvassed. Which is why I want to know more about the representations CYF made. CYF's "job" is to work in the interests of the children. The judge's job is to work in the interests of the law. It is ultimately parents who are not doing their job properly hence we end up with these very difficult and non-black and white circumstances.

Sorry Zen, oversight. Yes. It was a beating.

Anonymous said...

But Lindsay, it seems to me that CYFS care more about the freedoms and rights of the parents than they do of the abused kids. I still think the judge made the right call, might make the mother think twice next time, it was beating she administered, once again, she may do it again, but lethally. He did the right thing, because I don't understand where CYFS is coming from either, they are not about protecitng the kids, it seems.

Lindsay said...

I hope so but there is no reason to be complacent about the safety and well-being of children separated from each other and moved into alternative care. Remember the recent Marton case?

That CYF recommended bail implies to me they are struggling to find better care.

mojo said...

Aha ... & CYFs so need the ratification of their decisions by the family court ... & by the same token they are mandated to maintain custody with the immediate or extended family ... often by those that have created the parental extremes that have required the child(ren) to be uplifted.
Statistics, Lindsay ... these are your forte ... how many deaths of infants in NZ have had their disposal determined by the family court in accord with Cyfs recommendations and how many overriding CYFs recommendations ... this might just tell a story.

Lindsay said...

Mojo, You at least can see what I am getting at. As for statistics, I do know that most children killed through maltreatment had never come to CYF's attention prior to their deaths. There were only 7 between 2000 and 2006. Typically there can be seven or more killed in one year alone.