Essex County, England: Aimee Gardiner is plagued by nightmares as she struggles to rebuild her life…. she is a survivor of systemic abuse in social services, who was wrongfully taken from the family who loved her and placed into a foster care home where she was horribly abused, assaulted and neglected.
In a written statement, read by aunt Carrie Stevens, who broke down in tears and could not continue, Aimee says,”When they took me away, I didn’t want to stay there. I felt really horrible and hurt when they took me away from you guys. I just wanted to come home…” Source: Fostered girl ‘lost smile’ after being removed from family (BBC News)
The Daily Mail is reporting on this case as a “legal abduction”: “The legal abduction of the teenager has now been condemned by an official inquiry which found that social workers took her from a safe and loving home without good reason, and sent her to a new family where she was exposed to genuine harm.” Source: ‘They snatched our girl because they fell out with us’: Council ripped teenager, 15, from loving family into foster home where she was abused and left to eat CAT FOOD, inquiry finds
Aimee had lived with aunt and uncle, Carrie and Chris Stevens, and their other two children since she was 2 years old – she was loved, cherished, and considered a part of the family. When Aimee was 15 years old, in July 2011, without warning, the Stevens family was called by Foster Link workers to say that Aimee was removed from her school and taken into state care that same day. Aimee was not allowed to say good-bye to the only family she’d ever known, and not allowed to take any of her belongings.
The Stevens family was falsely accused of child abuse and neglect by the social worker, and not allowed contact with Aimee, whom they considered their daughter. The Stevens’ believe the social worker took these actions to retaliate against them because they were not satisfied with her work, and had requested a new worker in the days prior to Aimee being taken into placement.
After six weeks of hell, Aimee ran away from foster care and made her way back home, to Carrie and Chris Stevens, where she has remained ever since.
The Stevens family demanded answers and filed complaints and for years were ignored by Essex County. Essex County stalled in investigating the complaint, and protected the social worker who wrongfully took Aimee from their home. Finally the Local Government Ombudsman got involved, not an easy task considering the challenges raised by Essex County, which including blocking the officer investigating the case from access to the social services file.
The results of the Ombudman’s official inquiry determined there were no grounds to take Aimee into state care, and criticized the actions of Essex County. Essex County has since issued a formal letter to offer a apology but Carrie and Chris Stevens said they never received the apology.
MORE needs to be done – the foster family should be investigated and brought up on criminal charges for child abuse and cruelty. Second, Essex County needs to be investigated as well. HOW MANY MORE CHILDREN were placed into this abusive foster home – and others – by Essex County? These crimes can not go ignored!
It should be noted the ONLY reason Aimee’s story has reached the public, and gained media attention, is because her case is exempted from the rules that require secrecy on family court proceedings in the UK. There has to be more openness and transparency in the court system; parents who speak out about their cases should not face contempt or punishment.
Could the legal kidnapping of Aimee Gardiner also have been motivated by racial prejudice??
In July 2015, the Irish Times reported that members of a campaign and support group called Mixed Race Irish believe they are victims of institutional racism and taken into state care because they are mixed race. The group, “…believe they were taken into care because they were mixed race, that there was a different unspoken “policy” for them and that they suffered an “extra layer of abuse” because of their racial identity. They say racism was endemic, systemic and systematic, in the care system and in Irish society, and that their experiences were particular to them.“ Source: Mixed Race Irish: ‘We were the dust to be swept away’ by Kitty Holland
Members of the group live in Britain, Ireland, China and the U.S; with the earliest known cases dating back to the 1940’s. It’s members are adults but recall horrific experiences in their childhood where they taken into state care where they were horribly abused, neglected and often sexually abused and/or sexually exploited. An untold number of children were murdered, or died, as a result of abuse and neglect. A majority of Mixed Race children were never offered for adoption because they were considered un-adoptable, and not considered human due to prevailing racist attitudes. Mixed-race children were often placed in foster care, boarded out or institutionalized in state or church run facilities. Care providers were not properly screened, and given payments for taking in children – meaning children were used as a cash commodity. The government also conspired to keep social services records secrets, and to cover up evidence of abuse committed against Mixed Race Irish children taken into state care.
Mixed Race Irish is working to raise awareness of institutional abuses committed against children taken into state care and give voice to adult survivors. Mixed Race Irish is also seeking official recognition of their experiences, along with an official inquiry. And asking for access to personal records.
In 2016, the #IamIrish exhibition in north London featured photographs of Mixed Race Irish people to celebrate the diversity of Irish people, and offer a way for Mixed Race people to share their stories and experiences. The exhibition, which features the images of 25 mixed race Irish people, was launched in accordance with Black History Month. The photographs were taken by Tracey Anderson.
Certainly more needs to be done to protect children from wrongfully being taken by the government, CPS or family court… and to protect children who are taken into state care.
AIMEE GARDINER STORY
MIXED RACE IRISH