Rhetoric and the Violation of Human Rights in Child Protection Proceedings: The Case of P,C&S vs United Kingdom

Published 13/03/2002
Type Article
Author(s) Clive Baldwin
Corresponding Authors Clive Baldwin, Senior Lecturer, School of Health, University of Bradford

In March 2002, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) heard the case of P,C&S vs. United Kingdom in which the parents of a child, S, sought to establish that the domestic proceedings that had resulted in the adoption of their child had violated their human rights. In July 2002, the ECHR ruled that the domestic proceedings had indeed violated the human rights of both the parents and the child. In this paper, I seek to explain how the domestic proceedings led to the violation of human rights. It is my argument that a partial answer to this question can be found in the interplay between a) the actors that functioned to establish, maintain and stabilize the trajectory of the narrative of dangerousness, and b) the rhetorics involved in child protection and Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP). While this is a single case study analysis, I suggest that the features of the case of P,C&S1 are not uncommon in cases of alleged MSbP abuse and may be at work in other cases of alleged abuse. A reflexive, critical and narrative approach in cases of alleged child abuse may protect families from professional failings and prevent future violations of human rights.