Ashya King: Children’s Ward or The Children are Wards?

Who's children are they?

Who’s children are they?

That sign saying “Children’s Ward” needs a minor change (and no, it’s not a grammatical one) – it ought to read “The Children are Wards”; because, as we have just learnt, when you take your child to hospital, or into a doctors office, your children seize to be yours, and become the responsibility of the National Health Service (NHS), and ultimately, the government.

And if you dare to take something from the government, they will hunt you down as criminals. The absence of criminality is no barrier, and neither are country borders or parental rights.

When the established media started buzzing about this story, we only heard one side: Ashya King’s parents had stolen him away from his hospital ward, depriving him of the care he needed, and had fled the country. He was in severe and imminent danger and, we the public, should report his whereabouts if we spotted them. If they were not found, the boy might die.

Not many questioned what they were being told.

Then the parents of Ashya King published this video on social media, which told their side of the story.

It certainly doesn’t look like the child was in severe and imminent danger and it seems that the concerns the government expressed regarding his immediate medical needs had been vastly overstated. Instead, the impression is that his parents not only have their son’s best interests in mind, but they are actively providing for his immediate needs while taking steps to arrange the best possible treatment for his condition; better than is available, currently, on the NHS.

Social media then lighted up with sympathy and support for the plight of the King family, and continues to do so. But instead of a de-escalation of the situation, quite the opposite has occurred. The parents have been arrested, and rumour is that they will stand before a court in Spain on Monday morning. The child has been taken to a local hospital in Spain, and…well, we don’t know what. If he being given the specified NHS treatment already, or is he just being looked after until a legal decision can be made about who has ultimate authority over him and which treatment he will have?

The outcome is an important issue, because it may well set a precedent.

But for now, let us focus on the root issue here, which is the insane amount of power that those in authority – a doctor in this case – can wield. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the subsequent actions of the Kings, the real issue is that a doctor who does not like his advice being questioned can shut you down in an instant – don’t like the treatment being provided for your child? Tough. Get with it, or we will get an emergency protection order, allowing us to take full charge of your child’s treatment without requiring your consent!

Now, a parent when placed in this position where they are not allowed to question the treatment being offered, may feel they have to take extreme action, as appears to have been the case here. I say extreme, but given the circumstances, it may well have been proportionate – what else could they do? But that aside for now, the system means that when anyone in a position of authority waves a red flag, a stupefyingly strong response is initiated, and parental rights and other liberties are no obstacle.

There ought to be balance and the parent’s viewpoint should carry some weight; but there isn’t, and they don’t. And until that changes we all need to be aware of that reality and the position that puts our children in.

Of course, this is nothing new. This case made the press but many, don’t. Children with certain conditions are more at risk from idiots trying to take them away from their parents under the guise of ‘treatment’ best for the child – myalgic encephalomyelitis for instance, where this situation is common and were it not for a small charity, the TYMES trust, many parents would have to face such threats alone. Thankfully, the good work of this organization has meant that none of the 121 families accused have been found to be at fault having faced suspicion/investigation by child protection agencies for child abuse or neglect for withdrawing their children from NHS treatment – a mixture of cognitive behavioural therapy and graded exercise therapy, neither of which have been proven to help. In fact there is plenty of evidence that these ‘treatments’ cause harm.

So as this example goes to demonstrate: this problem is wide spread, and any time you find yourself at odds with what your child’s doctor says, you had better be ready for the ordeal they will put you and your family through, and you’ll need all the help you can get.

If we don’t fight against this kind of perverse abuse of power now, while our children are well, safely tucked up in bed, ready for another day tomorrow, then we can’t blame anyone else when the day comes that your doctor takes steps to take control of your child’s well-being because you disagree with them.

Then, when the stakes are high, it is already too late.