Friday 24 November 2017

Gardaí called to school as girl (11) threatened to have classmates shot

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A primary school has called gardaí on a number of occasions to help contain an "out of control" 11-year-old girl.

At a district court sitting of the Family Law Court, a solicitor for the Child and Family Agency (CFA) said the child has threatened to have classmates shot and killed by others.

A senior social worker with the CFA said the girl's behaviour has deteriorated in the last six months and on two occasions the girl's school was unable to manage her and called gardaí.

The social worker said on a more recent occasion, the school contacted gardaí after an outburst at school by the child "where the girl was completely out of control".

The social worker said the girl has assaulted and threatened classmates and assaulted her mother and a sister in the presence of the school principal. She added there was a "very volatile atmosphere".

"It is very significant that a school like the one in this case are relying on garda assistance to deal with the behaviour," she added.

The social worker said that earlier this year, the girl took an overdose of her mother's prescription drugs and was rushed to hospital by ambulance. An assessment carried out on the girl found there was no intention to self-harm in the episode.

The girl had another outburst at the hospital resulting in the hospital calling on the assistance of a security guard.

The solicitor for the CFA told the court: "Parents of other sick children were going to take their children out of the hospital because of the trouble the girl was causing."

The social worker said the girl had two huge outbursts at school last autumn "when both myself and gardaí were asked to attend. She was beyond the control of her parents and no adult around her was able to manage her at that time".

The social worker said that the girl "is completely out of control".

The CFA was seeking to put the child into care on an interim basis.

Both the child's mother and father, who is the girl's primary carer, opposed the application with the father stating that he was agreeable to respite care Monday to Friday only and would look after his daughter at weekends.

A solicitor for the mother said there has been no further episode of note at the school over the past two months.

However, after hearing evidence from the senior social worker, mother and father, the judge in the case placed the girl into care for the next 29 days.

After hearing the judge's ruling, the girl's distressed mother left the court in tears.

The solicitor for the CFA told the father while he was in the witness box: "This is not a punishment of you or your wife. The sole purpose of this is to safeguard your child from now and into the future."

The social worker said: "Her behaviour tells me that she is crying out for help.

"The girl's behavioural issues are so concerning that, down the line, I just see a very bleak future for the girl unless we do something very different and very intensive," she added.

"I am aware that the girl is a much loved child but that her parents' and family situation is very difficult and stressful. I would have great admiration for efforts the father has made over the years and while her mother loves her children she doesn't have the capacity to meet the girl's needs at this time."

In his ruling, the judge described the father as "an unsung hero" in bringing up the girl by himself for the last number of years.

Irish Independent

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