A particularly irritating example of opaque reporting came up under #familylaw on twitter yesterday.

According to this story in the Telegraph,

Child whose parents played too many video games ‘removed from family home’

Social Services said to have believed their obsession with gaming amounted to neglect

One might have hoped for a link to the court judgment, but no. Nor was there any indication as to whether a court application had been made, what the other conditions in the home were like, where the child is now etc.

The story goes to state that the child ‘was taken by social services at Walsall Council’ within the last month, adding that gaming was not the main factor. (So that headline is completely wrong?)

Not much of story then, but the Telegraph goes on to say:

‘The Sun said that its investigation had found that two children – one in Walsall and one in Devon – had been taken into care over the past month for having bad teeth.

Meanwhile, ten were removed due to their parents’ smoking. One of these was in Worcestershire, while four were in Southampton. Three were in Bradford and two were in Lancashire

John Hemming, of Justice for Families, said: “Silly reasons are often given for taking children.”

If the Sun has, in fact, undertaken an investigation into children being taken into care, they appear to be claiming that in the past month, two children were removed from their parents solely on the grounds that they had bad teeth and ten solely on the grounds of their parents smoking. There’s no explanation given of the methods or overall results of the investigation.

Does any reader of either the Telegraph or the Sun really believe that a child and his/her parents can be legally separated on the basis of one of these facts alone? The risk of anyone falling for these random scare stories seems low, but confounding the obscurity by trivialising such decisions as ‘silly’ is  sure highly irresponsible.