Boy who suffered flea bites at infested home taken from parents’ care

A nine-year-old boy said to have suffered repeated flea bites because his home was infested must be taken from his parents’ care, a family court judge has ruled.

Council social workers had raised a series of the concerns about the boy and his teenage sister.

They said his parents had brought him up in a home which was “infested with fleas”; failed to provide adequate education after deciding to take him out of school and home educate; failed to meet his health care and developmental needs; failed to provide a “balanced and nutritious diet”; and failed to provide him with “appropriate routines”.

Social services staff said the couple had also failed to provide for their daughter’s “basic physical needs”.

Judge Eleanor Owens decided that both youngsters should go into long-term foster care.

The couple argued that they should be allowed to bring up their children.

They disputed allegations made by social workers and the youngsters’ father complained of “social engineering”.

But the judge said her decisions were not based on social engineering but on “very significant deficiencies in parenting capability”.

Detail of the case has emerged in a written ruling published by the judge following a family court hearing in Oxford earlier this year.

Judge Owens said the family involved could not be identified.

The judge said social services staff had complained of the family home being “unsanitary”, “infested with fleas” and often smelling strongly of “urine and animals”.

They said the boy suffered from “repeated flea bites as a result of the infestations in the home”.

“This appears to be accepted by mother, but father’s response indicates that he does not accept that the house was unsanitary or smelt strongly,” said Judge Owens in her ruling.

“He does accept the flea infestation.”

She added: “The evidence with regard to the unsanitary conditions in the home is, I am afraid, simply overwhelming.”

Judge Owens said a barrister who represented the children’s father had made “specific references to social engineering”.

But the judge said: “This case is not based on social engineering but on very significant deficiencies in parenting capability, which have caused the children significant harm.”

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