Council of Europe Says Slapping children ‘Amounts To Torture’ – And We Agree

It’s no secret that at Researching Reform we are advocates of an assault-free childhood, and have written extensively on the subject, but this new warning from the Council of Europe directed at Ireland, should be heeded world-wide.

The latest statistics on smacking children in Ireland, though dismissed by their government, indicates that a quarter of parents still hit their children. And in the UK, six out of ten parents of children aged four and under, say they regularly assault their children.

Whilst hitting children is currently banned in England within most institutions like schools and care homes, as is the case in Ireland, the Council of Europe continues to fight for the removal of hypocritical distinctions which allow for assaults of this nature to take place in the home, at the hands of parents. It’s a point we make often, but if it is illegal to ‘tap’ an adult, whether a relative of the victim of not, then the same must also be true of assaults against children.

It’s time to address this embarrassing double standard and show our children we genuinely value them and their place in the world.

If you’d like to read more on our anti-assault campaign, you can do so here. 


Is Social Media Really A Threat To Adoption Or Is The Process Fundamentally Flawed?

In a very interesting article published by the Guardian last week, the suggestion that social media is responsible for adoption placements breaking down once children find their birth parents online and causing those children emotional harm, is both seductive and on the face of it rational, but is it right?

The piece, which reads like it’s been written by a social work comms team (if the sector actually had one) attempts to examine the issues social media raises for adoptive families.

The article, prejudicial as it is, opens with a description of a young girl’s experience trying to find her own birth mother, when we are told that she chooses to describe her mother as a Disney princess and the social worker in her life (probably one of many given the transient nature of this kind of service), as a snake. The young girl blames the social worker for losing her mother. Predictably, the journalist places all the blame, for what she describes as a disastrous reunion, on the social media site that brought mother and daughter together.

But the journalist is wrong – and here’s why.

When a child is removed from a biological parent, regardless of whether the parent was able to care for their child or not, and often regardless of whether that child ends up in a loving and steady placement (again, the data tells us this does not happen as much as it should), every child needs to know about their personal, and cultural heritage. Social workers are supposed to make up scrap books for adopted children which tell them about their birth parents, but in our experience, many don’t get one and when they do, they are often superficial at best and at worst, fabrications of the truth.

So little attention is given to the fact that adoptive children do not simply start to breathe, live and experience the world upon adoption – they are alive the moment they are born and building memories and experiences which will shape who they are, for the rest of their lives. That our current adoption process is so crude, so short-sighted when it comes to support for these children, is galling in the face of all the scientific evidence and research we now have available to us about child development and how early life experiences impact us well into adulthood.

The piece goes on to blame social media and the part it played in the reunion between mother and daughter for the subsequent deterioration of the girl’s relationship with her adoptive mother, but fails entirely to question whether the adoptive mother’s bond with her daughter was strong and crucially, whether the adoptive mother was given all the information available about the biological parents and so able to fill in the pieces for her daughter and support her in the discovery process.

This brings us on to the deceptive nature of adoption itself and the conflicts of interest inherent within the adoption industry. We already know that children are sometimes unjustly removed from birth parents but adoptive parents often don’t know the background of the child they’ve adopted, either. In the UK, a full and frank disclosure of a child’s background and biological parentage is encouraged in theory, but in practice, where anything that threatens an adoption succeeding is considered fair game, this kind of disclosure is rare. So, what we have, long before social media kicks in and offers an outlet for self-discovery and, perhaps, a chance at being truly loved, is a system which sets adoptive families up to fail.

To the adoptive mother’s credit in this story she realises, after bitter experience, that honesty should have been the best policy all along, and that it may well have prevented her from losing her adoptive daughter entirely. But she is a lone voice, in an article filled with scaremongering spin from the social work and adoption sectors, busy demonising an inanimate object for the deep pain and confusion their flawed processes inflict on already vulnerable children.

If we are ever going to provide meaningful support for children who have suffered neglect and abuse, we are going to have to wake up to the realisation that their lives, like the rest of us, begin when they’re born. That they need to know how they came into the world, and who their birth parents are, and most importantly perhaps, have access to these parents in an appropriate and structured way, so that they and they alone can make the decision about whether their parents should be in their lives or not. And whilst this idea burns at the heart of the adoption industry – an arrangement that would put off most adoptive parents and see the industry, and its profit margins, shrink overnight – it is the only way forward.

Social media is not the enemy within the adoption process – it is just offering us a warning sign that the system is riddled with problems, and in desperate need of reform.

In The News

These are the stories we feel should be right on the radar:


Today Is International Missing Children’s Day – And Many Are Stolen For The Adoption Industry

Around the world today states, charities and child welfare organisations will be remembering the many hundreds of thousands of children that go missing every year because today is International Missing Children’s Day.

And yet the level of awareness surrounding what happens to these children and where they go once they are abducted is still very low.

Did you know for example, that many children are stolen or bought from families to fuel the adoption industry around the world? It sounds like a conspiracy theory, one that may seem hard to believe, but there is ample evidence which highlights this terrible practice.

In order to raise awareness about missing children, we’ve added some very interesting links below:


Question It!

Welcome to another week, which also happens to be the week the Queen’s Speech takes place.

It is expected that HRH will touch on at least one proposal the Conservative government is considering implementing in relation to child welfare – tougher jail terms for web paedophiles. Other initiatives include improving school performance nation-wide and more child care options.

The new government is also looking to force councils to merge in a bid to speed up adoption rates.

Our question to you then, is just this: do you think these measures are right?


A Message To The Government From Children Screaming To Be Heard

In this poignant invitation to the government to support an initiative that helps keep families together after forced adoption, and allow children to know their heritage and the parents and extended family members they lost, Children Screaming To Be Heard have written a letter to the government.

It is very much worth a read and makes several very thought-provoking points about children’s rights and the importance of acknowledging that adoption does not mean a child forgets about their first family or sheds the desire to know them. Indeed, knowing all they can about their biological families is a vital part of any child’s development.

Please do read the letter below when you have a moment. The initiative, called Families Forever Storybooks is just lovely.


“Families forever storybooks”

The British children taken into care now includes many children from the EU countries, and in 2014 many of the EU countries held meetings to raise their concerns about the British attitudes to state-sponsored child abuse and forced adoption.

Present day figures state approx 1.000 children are taken into care every month, mostly on false allegations. Once a child is in care, that child is left all alone with strangers, frightened, then only to be bombarded with questions by the court ‘experts’. Many children are used for medical experiments, most children are moved many times from different foster carers; some children are sexually abused.

When foster carers take their yearly paid holidays the children are sent to live with more strangers with a respite carer. There is no stability for these children, they are all alone. So, “In a child’s best interest” thousands of these children are going from pillar to post and lose all contact with their families and grandparents. For those children who are ALLOWED contact they are supervised, mostly in a tiny room in a contact centre. Many contacts are limited to nine hours a year with most grandparents told ‘your grandchildren do not want to see you’. This is not “In a child’s best interest”; this is destroying the families. We have thousands of adults who are discarded from the care system left to live on the streets. Most tell me that when they were in care the social workers told them their families did not want them or any contact, and this was the reason they were in care. For many children this was an outright lie, which they only discovered after leaving the system and on finding their families when they were told the truth. It is time that the care system supported the families and children “In a child’s best interest”.

For 100s of years the British children in care have been screaming to be heard they have no human rights, no family and are still the silent witnesses.
Prisoners have more rights then any child in care and all prisoners are allowed contact with their children. They are allowed to write them a story as can be seen at If prisoners are allowed family contact and are able to write stories for their children then the families of those children in care should have the same rights.

I, on behalf of the children screaming to be heard, who are all alone, frightened, and living with strangers, demand that they have contact by “Families Forever storybooks” from their families to give the children the support and to let them know they are still part of a family wanted, loved and missed.
In this link is Ben, just one of the thousands of adults from the care system who was left to live on the streets. He is one of the hundreds of adults I interviewed and filmed. He was told his family did not want him or to have any contact and for this reason he was in care. It is time for the system to stop the lies and to support the families and to bring change in the 21st Century for the kids in care. Ben will shortly be recording one of his songs he wrote about the care system. This will be in support of the children in care and also to support
“Families Forever Storybooks”.

I ask the British Government, the media, social services, the courts, lawyers, Barristers, celebrities and all who purport to work “In a child’s best interest” to support Families Forever Storybooks so that the children can know they are still loved and wanted, and by Families Forever Storybooks the children will be able to stay in touch with their biological families.

Yours Sincerely

Maggie Tuttle
The silent witness here lies the truth.

Registered Charity No 1144679
Company No 07778714


Parliament’s Key Issues – They Got 99 Problems, But Child Welfare Ain’t One

In a news item on Parliament’s website published yesterday, specialists in the House of Commons library have put together issues they think the new Parliament might consider in the coming months. As you might imagine, child welfare barely gets a look in.

Whilst legal aid, education-related issues, child poverty and child care are included, the pessimistic and biased commentary in these sections is galling and appears to minimise the issues. One of the more jaw-dropping statements, which can be found within the child poverty segment, reads:

“If the new Government were to accept that the existing [child poverty] targets are not going to be met, it could amend the Child Poverty Act to introduce new, more realistic targets.”

It is evident that this government is going to put reducing debt ahead of preventing child deaths, at every opportunity.

The omission too of the nation’s Statutory Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse is a glaring oversight, as is the pressing concern over the need to debate the development of the voice of the child inside the justice system.

Of interest in this list for some will be the inclusion of discussions which may consider anonymity for defendants in rape cases, the stigma surrounding mental health and assisted suicide.

The proposed key issues can be accessed here with links to each segment, but we also add the issues below for ease of reference:

Largest Ever Study On Children’s Lives From A Child’s Perspective Reveals Startling Insights Into Happiness

A survey which has sought to examine what makes children around the world happy has just published its findings and the results are fascinating.

The Children’s Worlds study surveyed over 50,000 children between the ages of 8-12 and was published by the Jacobs Foundation, a Zurich-based nonprofit, last week.

15 countries in total were included, and incorporates so called ‘poor’ countries as well as ‘rich’ ones.

Children’s perceptions of happiness, schooling and more are detailed in this eye-opening report about how children view their world. It is well worth a read.

Last week’s report includes data relating to children aged 10-12, however it is hoped that a report focusing on 8-10 year olds will be released later this year.

Some key facts from the current report are added below:

  • Overall happiness is the same for boys and girls.
  • Compared with girls, boys feel more satisfied with their bodies and appearances in Europe and South Korea, but not in the African and South American countries surveyed.
  • About 60 percent of children in Nepal live with their parents and grandparents, while fewer than 10 percent of children in the U.K., Norway and Israel live in these multigenerational homes.
  • Children in some countries, including Algeria, Nepal and South Africa, spend much more time caring for siblings and other family members than do children in richer countries, such as Germany, Turkey and South Korea.


Question It!

Welcome to the week.

With the recent revelation that the Statutory Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse may take 8 years to complete, many have started to question the Inquiry’s intentions as a result. Some victims and survivors have responded to the news with anger, accusing the Inquiry of foul play, that justice delayed is justice denied. Others have defended the Inquiry, taking the view that the time line is an estimate and is an indication of the Inquiry’s earnest desire to hear all victims of abuse who wish to come forward.

Our question to you then, is just this: do you think an extended Inquiry, regardless of the reasons behind an extended investigation, can offer survivors the redress they seek?



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