Jayden Lee tragedy is one of many
One in four children supposed to be under the protection of local authorities are being brought up by parents who misuse drugs, figures revealed yesterday.
The NSPCC released the statistics in response to a damming report published on Tuesday, which condemned social workers for failing to save Bristol toddler Jayden Lee Green, who died after being given a methadone overdose by his father, who is addicted to crack cocaine and heroin.
Sharon Copsey, NSPCC head of service for the South West, said the case showed that local authorities need to make the tough decision of taking a child into care if their drug or alcohol-addicted parents cannot keep them safe.
“The tragic death of Jayden Lee highlights again how vulnerable small children can be to abuse and neglect, particularly in homes where parents struggle with addiction to drink and drugs,” she said.
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“It’s likely that Jayden Lee experienced harm in some form throughout his short life and in order to stop other children suffering in the same way, we need to intervene to ensure that addicted parents are able to keep their children safe. And if they do not improve we must not hesitate to remove children for their own safety.”
A serious case review from the Bristol Safeguarding Children Board found that social workers, health visitors, drug agencies and other authorities dealing with the case of Jayden Lee, referred to as ‘Child K’ throughout the report, had “no sustained, planned approach to protecting the child.”
The review stated: “The only way that Child K’s death would definitely have been prevented was if he had been placed away from his parents.”
It went on to say that this opportunity had been lost when the authorities failed to follow through on their initiation of care proceedings, adding: “However, a better-planned and authoritative approach to the family may also have prevented his death.”
Jayden Lee was found dead in his parents’ bed in a ‘filthy’ flat in the St George area of Bristol just a month before his second birthday in August 2011. His father, Jamie Green, 33, was convicted of manslaughter and cruelty and jailed for nine years at Bristol Crown Court in June.
The toddler’s mother, Sonia Britton, 35, who along with Green was prescribed methadone, was cleared of manslaughter but convicted of child cruelty and causing or allowing the death of a child. She was jailed for four years.