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Investigation finds councils taking children into care over parents’ gaming, smoking habits and dental health neglect (25 August 2015)

Date: 25/08/2015
Duncan Lewis, Child Care Solicitors, Investigation finds councils taking children into care over parents’ gaming, smoking habits and dental health neglect

An investigation by The Sun has found that children are being taken into care over fears they may become addicted to playing computer games.

The Sun investigation found that social workers in Walsall in the West Midlands took one child into care because they considered the child’s excessive exposure to video games played by the parents amounted to “neglect”.

It is estimated that out of 20 million people in the UK who regularly play video games, around 10% will become addicted.

On average, regular gamers spend around nine hours a week playing.

The Sun investigation also revealed that children are being taken into care over parents neglecting their dental health. Sun reporters found that in just one month, two children were taken into care for having poor dental health and decaying teeth — one child in Walsall and one in Devon.

A further ten children were removed as a result of their parents’ smoking habits – one child in Worcestershire, four in Southampton, three in Bradford and two in Lancashire.

Every year, around 30,000 children a year are taken into care.

Tooth decay affects a third of five-year-olds in England, however – and there are fears that councils may be intervening too soon, in order to meet government targets.

Chief executive of the charity Kidscape, Claude Knights, said:

“The computer gaming must have been extreme use. I expect the parents were spending hours in front of a screen.

“If a child is being neglected or unsafe, then the authorities should step in – but it is a fine balance.”

Walsall Council has said that gaming was not the main reason for the child being taken into care, however.
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