Exclusive: Social workers move to take unborn babies into care



HUNDREDS of Scottish babies are being taken into care - before they are even born.

A Sunday Mail investigation into child care revealed a lost generation - forced into care because of abuse they suffer while still in the womb.

In the last three years, 272 unborn children were put on the child protection register in Edinburgh alone. Another eight babies were
placed on the register within days of birth.

In Fife, up to 90 unborn babies each year are referred to health and social workers with many being placed on the child protection register.

Concerned social workers in Dundee investigated 69 pregnant mothers for physically neglecting their unborn child during the same period.

Another 28 expectant mums were flagged as potential cases as the mother or her partner posed a risk of physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

More than 60 babies were placed on the child protection register within three months of birth - with 21 suffering physical neglect, 23 enduring
physical abuse, four falling victim to sexual abuse and 12 being
emotionally abused.

Another two babies were taken into c a r e f o r their "failure to thrive".

Parentaldrug and alcohol abuse is the biggest cause of unborn babies being put on the register.

Authorities revealed that they have investigated pregnant mothers for physical neglect, and physical, sexual and emotional violence.

We used Freedom of Information laws to discover a haphazard picture across the country - with different local authorities taking various
approaches.

Social work chiefs said their workers were being confronted with situations involving the unborn babies of drug and alcohol addicted parents every
day.

Harriet Dempster, president of the Association of Directors of Social Work, said: "We know that if early action is not taken then the
prognosis for these children can be very poor.

"The Sunday Mail's figures suggest that child protection agencies are working well to identify and address the problem.

"Adoption needs to be given a higher profile to raise awareness and interest and promote recruitment of people able to care and commit to
these children."

The news comes amid fears Scotland's social work system needs overhauled in the aftermath of the horrific death of battered tot
Brandon Muir.

He was beaten to death by drug addict Robert Cunningham, 23 - the boyfriend of the tot's prostitute mum Heather Boyd.

Brandon was 12 weeks old when he was brought to the attention of social workers who marked him "of concern".

Last year, social workers voiced fears that budget cuts and overworked staff could trigger another tragedy similar to the deaths of Kennedy
Macfarlane in Dumfries, Caleb Ness in Edinburgh, and Carla Nicole Bone
in Aberdeenshire.

Child protection expert Steve Hothersall, of Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, said: "One factor in the increase of unborn children being
placed on the child protection register could be the political emphasis
now put on child protection.

"Workers try to intervene as early as possible to maximise the likelihood of the best possible outcome. A positive outcome for the child does not always
mean the child staying at home."

Council bosses said children were usually removed from the parents due to "a lack of parenting skills".

In Glasgow last year, social work bosses said they dealt with around 20 cases a month of unborn babies at risk of abuse.

Last night, the Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care and Barnardos declined to comment.pain.


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