Child Abuse

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th May 1991.

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Photo of Mrs Virginia Bottomley Mrs Virginia Bottomley Minister of State (Department of Health) 12:00 am, 14th May 1991

I certainly endorse the hon. Gentleman's point. However, the decisions that social workers must make are enormously complex. If social workers remove a child needlessly, they are castigated; but if they do not remove a child and it is abused, they are also castigated. Sometimes it appears that there is a ritual abuse of social workers.

In implementing the Act we are determined to clarify the rights of parents. The Family Rights Group, for example, has been working on a handbook for that purpose. We are also determined to clarify the role and responsibility of social workers. If they can remember that their prime duty is the welfare of the child and the need to have clear evidence, they may be able to avoid some of the pitfalls that have occurred in recent cases.