Last week I wrote a post about a woman called Lucy Allan and the horrific experience she had at the hands of social services.
Having been made aware of my article, Ms Allan copied the link to the Mumsnet website’s discussion forum. A heated debate ensued. Some contributors did not believe her story (although it has been well documented); others said it was ‘unhelpful’ to parents who might need help and be discouraged from seeking it; but most significantly, many more people, who had had similar experiences, had the opportunity to tell their stories.
The net result: OUTRAGE! The feed was taken off Mumsnet and Ms Allan has now been banned.
Seriously! A woman who has: been wrongly accused of being a threat to her child; been threatened with having her only child taken into care; had to spend £10,000 in legal fees to clear her name; and finally lost her job, has been banned from Mumsnet, for telling her story.
I swear you couldn’t make it up.
Personally, I am hugely disappointed at Mumsnet, which claims:
We try, as far as possible to let the conversation flow and not to over-moderate. Mumsnet is a site for grown-ups.
Mumsnet makes clear that it is not a lobby group, but is very powerful when it comes to campaigning. And they cover some contentious issues.
Needless to say, things being as they often are, the timing could not have been worse. Only days before the ‘Mumsnet’ incident, in the very same London Borough where Ms Allan had previously worked, a baby and toddler were found dead, presumed smothered by their mother. It is a horror story like no other. A photogenic couple with two beautiful kids… presumed double infanticide, assumed to be committed by the mother. What more reason could there be for Social Services to be allowed to intervene and put kids into care.
But there’s the irony. I don’t think that it proves that we should be more supportive of Social Services. I think it just proves that they are getting it wrong all round. Not every time, maybe. But when they do…. the cost is devastating.
The media have speculated that the mother of these two tiny children, who were found dead, was suffering post-natal depression. If she was indeed suffering post-natal depression, her case was missed.
Is it too much to suggest that maybe… just maybe, if less time was wasted persecuting someone who was ‘self reporting’ as having depression (such as Ms Allan), this poor woman might not have been missed.
But all this aside, I feel that even I myself have diverted from the crucial point.
Ms Allan herself is not suggesting that social services should be disbanded or vilified. She is simply asking that they are accountable – just like everyone else. That parents who are being accused of being a risk to their children have a right of reply. A right to know WHAT they are being accused of and accountability if they are wrong.
And as for Mumsnet… I have always thought it was a great forum. I like the fact that they support family issues. But on this occasion, I think they copped out. The very fact that this topic has caused such a furore, demonstrates just how important it is to people.
Sorry Mumsnet… but I’m disappointed.