Social workers were repeatedly intimidated by a mother who killed her 12-year-old learning-disabled son by forcing him to drink bleach. However, they could not have predicted his death a serious case review (SCR) has concluded.
The review found that agencies, including social workers, doctors and teachers, had missed numerous warning signs that Child T was suffering harm including inconsistent school attendance, the mother’s refusal to co-operate with agencies and repeated reports of domestic violence between the mother and father.
“It is clear from the narrative provided that the children had suffered significant harm through many phases of their lives,” the SCR said. “There were missed opportunities to intervene more decisively at a number of points.
“However, the nature of the circumstance in which Child T was killed by his mother could not have been anticipated by the professionals involved. There was no evidence in the case history to indicate that the mother might seriously harm or kill [the child].”
One key element highlighted in the case was that practitioners allowed themselves to be intimidated by the mother.
The mother repeatedly argued with social workers and teachers, often accusing them of being racist or culturally insensitive to her and her husband’s Indian background.
The review pointed out that religion, ethnicity and immigration status had all had “a significant influence” on the case history and on the care provided to the children. Cultural factors may have heightened the mother’s mistrust of services, the SCR said.
The review recommended that all local agencies with safeguarding responsibilities needed to ensure that staff and managers are knowledgeable about the cultural and religious factors that can affect service provision.
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