When a newly pregnant 27-year-old in Staffordshire County, U.K., called to report a dangerous driver, she never expected to be reported to social services for being an unfit mother.
But a few days after speaking to a policewoman in her doorway about a driver who almost ran her over, Mary Cooke received a letter from the county council’s children’s services informing her that her unborn child may be referred for services.
Why? Because of peeling wallpaper, stripped floors and unfinished paint jobs in the house.
Cooke and her partner had been fixing up the apartment when Cooke found out she was pregnant. The two were renting the place and trying to finish quickly before they were set to move to another, larger living space.
The police officer didn’t ask Cooke about the place or her plans, Cooke says, and didn’t otherwise indicate there were concerns. It was only in passing that Cooke even mentioned she was pregnant. Again, the officer said nothing to Cooke at the time or asked for more details.
Cooke and others claim this is another instance of police going overboard. Recently, a mother was followed home by an unmarked policeman after she had barked at her two children a little too loudly.
Of course, it’s a delicate balance for the police officers, right? Who wants to be the one who ignored the signs of neglect only to have a child turned up injured or dead?
That said, we lived in a fixer-upper for two years from the time my first daughter was an infant. It’s not without peril. We, unknowingly, exposed her to lots of lead-rich dust, which showed up in a routine blood test performed on all children who lived in certain “hot” areas of the city.
Plus, the tools, the nails, the paint, the everything.
But that’s the kind of thing that calls for education, not scary, generic letters from social services.
Photo: Daily Mail