The case discussed:
The case to be discussed is about Theodore, a 5 year old boy whose parents separated almost 3 years ago. In 2012, the court decided for the parents’ divorce and in 2013 ordered exercising parental authority jointly by both parents, setting the child's home at the mother’s but rejected as the request to pursue personal relationships with his father according to a visiting schedule.
Currently, the child lives with his mother, who reported that the child's father exercises abusively his parental rights: he harasses and provokes tense situations or even aggression and the boy is a witness. When he takes the boy with him and goes against his will at father’s home, the father is putting pressure on both the child and mother.
At the initial checks made by DGASPC, it was observed that the parents give contradictory statements and accuse each other regarding their relationship with the child. On the one hand, mother complains that the father harasses him because he is watching them at home, on the streets and in the kindergarten, on the other hand, the father claims that he was just trying to see his son as the mother restricts access to the child. Each parent accuses the other of denigrating in the child's face.
The psychological assessment of the child revealed that the tensions between parents creates a permanent state of anxiety and suffering. It is clear that he witnessed unpleasant scenes (most often verbal insults and accusations) between his parents which leads him to assume the role of protector of his mother unconsciously. Theodore seems to be experiencing a feeling of "choose between the two parents” that leads to having strong negative feelings and experiences.
The findings of the detailed evaluation highlight two parents who do not have a common strategy for solving problems related to the child. They are accusing each other of mistakes in upbringing, education and involvement in the child's life; both trying to demonstrate its authority and ability to maintain control without taking into account the child's feelings. The child is witnessing inappropriate behavior of their parents, both feeding tension. On one hand the father wants to take care of the child, on the other hand, the mother encourages the boy to go with his father but in tension and negatively presented as if he would need to prepare for a danger.
Although intention is missing, both parents have inappropriate attitudes and behaviors that fail to manage. They are involving Theodore in all generated conflicts which may fall within the scope of emotional abuse.
The case management team decided that the best approach to this situation is focusing on providing support services to the child and family. Services available are counseling and specialized assistance for the purpose of raising awareness by parents on the potentially abusive behaviors and on the rehabilitation of parental relations ( focusing on father-son relationship).
- Daniela Ciobanu (sociologist, chief of department, Department of Assistance in Situations of Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation and Trafficking of Children within DGASPC District 6)
During the case discussion, the intervention measures applied and all stages of the case will be presented in detail, subsequently leaving space for discussions on good practices and for any questions / suggestions from the participants.
When and how long?
Friday, 9th September 2016, at 12.00h (EET). Duration: max. 1h
Who is it for?
All interested persons, especially professionals working on similar cases from public institutions and NGOs, Romanian speaking. The maximum number of participants: 25.
How do you enrol?
Registration/ authentification on childhub.org is required. Enrolment to the case discussion is done by clicking on the "Join this case discussion" button. Taking into consideration the limited number of participants, please secure a place in due time.
How do you access the online discussion?
Access the link: https://www.gotomeet.me/childhub/discutie-de-caz-5
This discussion is the last in a series of five case discussions which took place from March to September 2016.
Case discussions represent an unique opportunity to develop our knowledge and to optimize practices in child protection, so as to attract support and to obtain validation. The ultimate aim being, of course, improving the work undertaken by all of us with children and families, which otherwise forms a valuable learning experience.
For more information, please contact the national associate for Romania:
- There is an increasing number of cases of children being involved in family disputes, divorces. Besides the brakeage of the relationship between the child and its parents, the tensed situation psychologically impacts the child greater. Parents do not understand the impact of their behavior on the child.
- In this type of cases, social workers need to meet regularly with the child and the parents, together and individually in order to discuss issues of communication and facilitating decision regarding setting up of a program for child- father / mother bonding. Nonetheless, work is needed on parents’ understanding of the stress resulted on the child.
- In the presented case, the mediation was not successful as parents had different understandings of the visiting schedule not agreed by the Court. In return, another approach would ensure that parents receive the necessary social counselling and legal advice. They need to have a common strategy for solving the issues concerning the child’s upbringing and involvement in family matters.
- Child psychological assessment represent the core work for understanding the impact of the parents’ behavior towards the child. Parents must become aware of this and social workers be more firm on this.
- Assisted meetings by a psychologist between parents and child were organized in the premises of the institution of child protection, but with temporary impact until one of the parent became reluctant. Assisted meetings should be seen as an alternative to a visiting schedule that in many cases is not followed. This is, of course, a temporary solution, until both parents can agree on a visiting schedule and can be followed accordingly.
- Parents might not accept the proposals of social workers, they might be reluctant, offending at times, but the best interest of the child principle must be acknowledged and followed.