Over the past week you’ll very likely have heard the tragic news about Blake and Tristan Barrass, either on this website or in mainstream media outlets that have run with the story as headline news.
One child murdered by their mother choking the life out of them with the cord of her dressing gown.
Another child strangled to death by the father who he was conditioned to believe was his uncle.
A surviving child who had to endure repeated efforts to drown them in the bath before their mother gave up and called the police.
Four children force fed ADHD tablets in a failed attempt to kill them on the night before the murder spree started.
Incestuous parents who hid the sordid truth from their children by letting them believe their real father was dead and think that their uncle, who visited every day, was just their uncle and not their father.
Incestuous parents who killed their children out of fear that a social worker was getting too close to discovering the shocking truth they had kept hidden for decades; a truth they feared would be revealed in the aftermath of their children being accused of sexual assaulting other children.
A truth they feared would see their children taken into care.
Yesterday it was revealed that the family had been known to children’s services since at least November 2018, due to concerns about the eldest child’s sexual activity.
Three days before the murders, their mother was told by a social worker that a strategy meeting was to be held due to additional concerns about the next eldest child’s sexual behaviours.
Two days before the murders, she was told that the children would be considered for child protection plans and asked extensive questions about their father by a social worker.
Less than 48 hours after this discussion with a social worker, two children were dead at the hands of their parents.
The blame has already started coming the way of social workers involved with this family.
Their maternal uncle has led the accusations by claiming that his sister “could have been stopped” by social workers, pointing to three telephone calls he made to children’s services a decade ago that related to Blake being grabbed roughly by the arm and dragged across the floor by his father.
As further details about the most recent social work involvement has come out, online comments have sought to further pin blame on children’s services for not doing more to prevent the deaths of these children.
“Same old story… lessons to be learned I bet”
“How can SS have visited the kids a few days before they were killed and done nothing?”
“SS are always targeting innocent families”
“Another failure by Sheffield SS”
There are many hundreds more comments of this ilk, but to save me quoting them all it’s easier to say that they are the usual narrative of inept social workers, the wrong families being targeted and professionals having blood on their hands when parents kill their own children.
But… let’s be real here.
Social workers didn’t kill these children.
A social worker didn’t take her dressing gown cord and choke the life out of her first-born son.
A social worker didn’t strangle his son to death because he prioritised his sexual relationship with his sister over the children that their incestuous romance had produced.
A social worker didn’t force feed four children ADHD tablets in an effort to kill them in their sleep.
A social worker didn’t repeatedly try to drown a child in the bath before giving up after the child put up such a valiant fight for life that they refused to die at the hand of their own mother.
No. All of these heinous actions were done by those that should have loved these children the most, their sick and twisted so called ‘parents’.
What a social worker did do is:
Follow procedures correctly by initiating child in need plans in order to support families at an appropriate level of intervention before escalating further if the need arises.
Get to know the children and correctly record that their mother was working well with them, as was a view held by all professionals working with the children at the time.
Escalate concerns when further information came to light about another child acting in a sexual manner with their peers.
Involve the children’s mother in the process by correctly informing her that a strategy meeting was taking place (not hiding it from her, which would have been the far easier thing to do).
Speak to the children’s mother following this meeting and ask appropriate questions to inform on the assessment that would be necessary in order to progress the case towards a child protection conference.
Not at any stage did this social worker do anything other than they should have.
In fact, they clearly made the effort to involve the children’s mother in the safeguarding process and took the time to ask the important questions.
How on earth could a social worker have predicted that these ‘parents’ would then go on to murder their own children?
What could have led them to make such a leap?
Where was the evidence?
Are we expected to believe that every single social worker in the world should assume that every parent will murder their own children after being told that there is the potential for a case to be escalated from child in need to child protection?
Should we practice in such a risk-averse way that we assume every parent we work with is a potential murderer until we can prove otherwise?
Is the new norm to be that all children are brought into care as soon as there are queries about their parentage?
Because those are the only things that would have saved these children here; a shift in child protection culture so extreme that every parent is guilty until proven innocent.
No. The social worker involved in this case isn’t to blame here.
They could not have done anything more with the information they had at the time.
The only people to blame are these cretinous so called ‘parents’ who prioritised their sordid and depraved incestuous relationship over the six children that their illicit lovemaking produced.