Thursday, December 23, 2010

Relatives "hounded children's services" over safety of children living with custodial dad; now both are dead (Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada)

Believe or not, I really hate it when I'm right.

We've posted on this case several times as it's developed. I wondered about abuse when it was first reported that this little boy had died at the home of his custodial UNNAMED DAD under "mysterious" conditions. I wasn't surprised when the boy's death was ruled a homicide. I was appalled--but not truly shocked--when it was reported that the little boy's sister had died in the home a few months before, supposedly from an "accidential" drowning. I wondered if there was a track record with this father that had been ignored.

And yes, it appears there was a track record. When the 3-year-old sister died, the maternal grandfather and other relatives "hounded" children's services for answers. It's not clear--surprise!--the children's services did a damn thing. Meanwhile, the father adopted the classic coercive control behavior often seen with abusive custodial fathers--cutting off phone contact with the rest of the family, even refusing to let the little boy talk to his maternal relatives at the sister's funeral.

Meanwhile, one of the central unasked questions--what happened to the mother of these children?--is still being tiptoed around. Though this would seem to me to be the giant elephant in the room. Is this how marginal mothers have become these days? That their existence doesn't even need to be accounted for? So what happened to her? Did Mom lose custody to this abusive father? Wouldn't be the first time such a thing has happened. On the other hand, if she suffered an "accidental" death or passed away from a "mysterious illness," it might be useful to revisit this issue. Or if she seemingly "disappeared."

Second child dies at Sask. home

Last Updated: December 23, 2010 1:24am

CALGARY -- Five months to the day after a three-year-old tot died in a drowning deemed accidental, her brother was found dead in his bed -- a case ruled a homicide by Mounties.

Devastated family in Alberta, who said they repeatedly hounded children's services in Saskatchewan, where the siblings lived and died, want police to revisit the death of the three-year-old.

They want to know what, if anything, was done by officials to look into their concerns about her brother before he was allegedly killed on the weekend.

The identity of the siblings is protected by child welfare legislation. No one who would identify the children can be named.

In July, the little girl, who lived with her brother, father and his girlfriend, was found unconscious in a container of water outside their rural home, near Swift Current, Sask.

RCMP told family she was playing unattended when she fell into a trash can used as a rain barrel.

Skeptical of those claims and concerned about her brother, family in Alberta repeatedly contacted children's services, claiming they were bounced from office to office and given no assurances anything was being done to allay worries about the surviving sibling.

When they went to his sister's funeral, the boy was not there and his father refused to let them see him.

In the months to follow, relatives said the father didn't let them talk to the boy on the phone.

On Saturday, their worst fears were realized, with the boy found dead in his bed.

Police won't say how he died, only that it is a homicide.

RCMP Sgt. Paul Dawson said police and the coroner's office deemed the girl's death accidental at the time, but now they have not ruled out revisiting it in light of her brother's homicide.

"Any time we are provided with new information if it is relevant, of course we will look at it," Dawson said.

Andrea Brittin, an executive director with Saskatchewan social services ministry's child and family services division, said she cannot speak to "specifics" on any individual case or "even confirm or deny involvement."

She said when concerns are raised by anyone, it is "certainly our obligation" to look into them.

If a child who dies is involved with the ministry, or has been within the past year, an investigation is ordered.

"A complete and comprehensive review is done to look at the services provided to the family to ensure if there are any lessons we can gain from these unfortunate events," Brittin said.

The children's maternal grandfather and numerous other relatives said any review is too late and they will never know if the little boy's life might have been spared.

"I'd like to know why they didn't listen to us," said the grandfather, who raised the children for months prior their father taking them to Saskatchewan.

An aunt said she wants answers about what child welfare did or did not do.

"It breaks my heart," she said. "The last time I talked to (the girl) on the phone I remember her saying, 'I love you, auntie,' and within four months, she was dead.

"The sad part is, there is no reverse switch to bring these children back."

No charges have been laid in the boy's homicide.