I recently came across the following secretly filmed footage on YouTube of two social workers interrogating a father about his treatment of his 7-year old daughter. The title of the video is 'CPS (Child Protective Services) interrogation and inquisition for normal parenting discretions'.
Just to summarise, the video starts with the reading out of some anonymous allegations that have been made against the divorced father of one, these are mainly based around the fact that on a day he was allowed access to his daughter he looked up the side effects of a drug he suspected his daughter was taking and read out the effects to the girl. This apparently then led the girl to become convinced that her mother was trying to kill her. The father tries to begin explaining that the mother has not told him what medication the girl is on, or that she is even taking anything at all. He says that on the day in question he became concerned when his daughter began to experience chest pain and told her father that her mother gives her pills to 'make her cooperate'. The rest of the video is excruciatingly frustrating to watch.
There are several points that I want to make about this footage and the incompetent social workers ('Blue' and 'Purple'), and put forward some of my thoughts, from the point of view of a pharmacist.
1. Blue reads out the allegations, tripping up on pronunciation, getting words like 'psychosis' and 'psychiatric' mixed up, indicating from the outset that she is unprepared and uneducated on the case of the child in question.
2. Purple is defensive in body language and speech, right from the beginning you can tell that she is biased, she does not and will not give the father a fair chance to explain his reasoning. This may be mistaken early on as perhaps her siding with the child but if you watch the whole video you'll find that she is in fact sided with the mother. I do not believe that she has the best interests of the child at heart, actually quite the opposite.
3. Purple states that the judge has determined that the father is not entitled to have information about the girls medication, to which the father says 'the judge never said that'. She does not contest this suggesting that she is uninformed and making things up as she goes along, perhaps just saying things for effect.
4. This part really angers me - at about 7 minutes in the father asks 'do you think it was the mothers responsibility to at least let me know (what our child is on)' to which she defiantly responds 'no'. He goes on to say 'my daughter is with me from an extended period of time on sundays', he correctly says 'the drug might have side effects, it might have contraindications..' all the while Purple is shaking her head, saying 'no'. She then shockingly says 'then you would take her to the hospital and the hospital would call the mother..'!! She repeatedly says that it is not irresponsible of the mother to not inform the father of the drugs the girl is taking because she doesn't legally have to.
It is at this point that I start to wonder why on earth a doctor, nurse or pharmacist is not present at this meeting. This woman clearly knows nothing of the potential dangers of medications, particularly psychiatric drugs in children. I think it is massively irresponsible for the mother to not inform anyone who the child will be staying with for a prolonged period of time of the medications that the child is on - be it a school teacher, baby-sitter or (shock horror) father. In the event of an emergency it is important to ensure optimum healthcare that current conditions and medications are known by doctors and other healthcare professionals, particularly with paediatric patients.
5. Purple claims it is normal for children to experience chest pain after dancing around because of raised heart rate. Maybe, maybe not. What she fails to consider is that many psychiatric drugs can have serious cardiac side effects, if a child on an antipsychotic or similar medication experienced chest pain, that would be a cause for concern. Of course, if the caregiver looking after the child doesn't know what side effects to look out for, this could put the child at risk of delayed treatment. But according to Purple, the mother was not being irresponsible.
6. Purple rants at him for giving the girl a treat of zero calorie, zero caffeine fizzy drink on some of the visits. She goes from saying that the sugar substitute in the drink has the same effect on the body as sugar, then says it's empty calories, then says it empty chemicals and finishes saying 'it's just not a good idea'. She then later refers to them as 'energy drinks'. Purple hasn't got a clue what she's talking about.
7. Purple reprimanded the father about weighing his child, apparently he should not be concerned about the fact that the girl is becoming obese. She claims that the father is perpetuating her obesity by giving her (zero calorie) sodas during the 8 hours a week that he sees his daughter. She 'highly recommends' that the father stops weighing the child and stops discussing weight with the child. I agree that weight shouldn't be made a huge issue at this point but I really don't feel that Purple is an appropriate person to be giving this advice. If she were acting with the best interests of the child at heart she would say that the issue of weight and the girls diet needs to be discussed with the mother. But she isn't, she just wants the father to be wrong.
8. Father asks if it is possible that the medication the mother is giving the child could be causing weight gain. Purple disregards this concern and says that the girl is going to have a growth spurt. If the girl is in fact on an antipsychotic (which to me looks probable), weight gain is a common side effect. So the father is 100% correct in having this concern and yet again Purple demonstrates her painful incompetence.
9. The other diet advice that Purple gives is pretty good. The attitude in which she gives it, however, is almost patronising, seemingly disregarding the fact that she is talking to a father who knows his daughter better than she ever will.
10. Purple says that the girl is still on the medication when the father asks. She says 'these sorts of medications aren't things you can suddenly stop'. A few minutes later she contradicts herself and says something to the effect of 'you are not legally entitled to know if she is taking anything, we cannot even hint that we know'. She goes on to say 'it could be vitamins, it could be Valium, it could be birth control', when the father asks about this she justifies her statement by saying that she's making it clear that she can't indicate what the child is on even though she mentioned previously that the medication can't be stopped suddenly - this does indicate what the child is on. All of this, especially the comment about a 7-year old on birth control, indicates one thing: this social worker is a useless waste of space that clearly enjoys the discomfort and aguish that the legal situation is causing the father by leaving him in the dark.
11. Blue now starts questioning the father, she is barely a minute in when Purple interjects with her defensive, catty attitude talking mostly a lot of rubbish. She is an unprofessional, rude and ill-informed hypocrite of a woman who clearly enjoys authority more than doing a good job protecting children.
I sincerely hope that this is not a reflection of what child protection services are like in America, or anywhere else. If it is, God help us all.
Apologies for the wordy post, I really wanted to bring to light some of the suffering that fathers endure in today's society when a couple with children breaks up. Sadly, I feel that if it were mothers that experienced this sort of treatment, a lot more people would know about it and a lot more people would care.