Saturday, November 2, 2019

UPDATED: Dependent Personality Disorder should be recognized as high risk factor in Child Protection

UPDATED:  November 7, 2019  Yet another instance of a father killing his young children occurred just last night in Brampton Ontario.  Some responsible entities need to examine this phenomenon more closely.  Something truly evil is going on!

Child Death Memorial

It's a very sad state of affairs.  There has been an epidemic of men/fathers killing their own children in British Columbia over the last couple of years.  Several notorious incidents plus a recent one that came very close to my own community...just over the past week or so.  This latest one spurred me to write this post.

The scenario is standard.  A man in his middle adult years has never had a consistent work record. He has been largely dependent on his wife/partner/parent for his upkeep.  He spends his days at his computer either gambling online or playing [sometimes violent] video games.  Suddenly, his world is thrown into upheaval as his "benefactor' for one reason or no longer willing or able to provide for his support.

In Canada, there is an additional factor involved.  Children are a significant source of monthly income for impoverished parents.  There's the Canada Child Benefit, a monthly cheque.  There are tax write-offs and, most importantly, there is subsidized housing.  The family can qualify for a comfortable unit in a social housing project or they can find independent rental housing.  The rent is paid for through their Income Assistance benefits...which factor in the number of children in the household and the need for sufficient bedrooms.

When the mother moves out with her children, the father no longer qualifies for this housing.  If the child is removed from the custodial father...again he loses the income based on that child living there.

The cases I'm thinking of as I write this post are fourfold.  First, a middle-aged man in the maritimes was forced to move out of his mother's home when she downsized.  He had an apartment on a second floor of a low rental building and within a couple of months of living there...opened his window one morning and shot four people to death as they went about their business in the street below.  There was a couple sitting in a car and two police who attended at the scene.

The second and third cases are eerily similar.  In both cases, the man killed his children close to or on Christmas day.  In the first of these cases, the man killed his wife and two young daughters in a very cold-blooded fashion.  They were living in an isolated community in BC and I believe she was thinking of leaving him.  The man pled guilty to the three murders.

The second of these cases is one of the most notorious in recent BC memory.  A man, the brother of a female RCMP officer, killed his two young daughters on Christmas morning.  Their mother had left him a year or more earlier and he had floundered financially due to an online gambling habit.  At the time of the children's death, he was under threat of eviction from his apartment and the electricity had been cut off.  In this case, the man denied that he killed his children.  Instead, he presented the court with a story that one of his gambling associates had broke into his suite Christmas morning, attacked him and murdered the children.  A jury found him guilty of the two murders.

The last and most recent case came too close to home.  It took place in a neighbourhood that I often visited when I was a child protection social worker.  It took place in a formerly upscale residential neighbourhood that is now being re-developed.  The remaining undemolished homes are being rented cheap by their landowners.  In this case, the father had been married to the mother for 25 years.  During that time, he had no gainful employment.  The wife said she had been physically abused throughout the marriage and left last August after a beating left her with severe bruising.  He had also knocked out some of her teeth over the years.

So she left him, and is living in a women's shelter.  He recently served her with papers demanding child support.  In response, she began to put a case together to have their youngest, an eight year old boy [two older boys are now in their '20's] removed from the father--based on his violent past.

The mother went to the RCMP and complained about the father and warned them about his violence.  She also phoned Children and Family Services and reported to them that her youngest child was at risk due to the history of violence and the recent escalation of stress to the father.

The CP worker went to the home immediately after the report.  I can imagine exactly how that home visit went.  The worker may well have been a young, 20-something woman.  Someone self-assured and assertive [thus making the man feel even more threatened] she may have interrogated the man and interviewed the child....putting both on notice of potential action to follow.

Within 48 hours of this home visit, the man shot his son in the back of the head as he sat in front of the TV playing video games.  Then the man killed himself [method has not been made public].

What has also not been made public is what happened at the child protection office when the news of the murder/suicide became known.  The social worker involved no doubt experienced the worst nightmare that can happen to a child protection social worker...the death of a child on her or his caseload.  Not that the social worker would be fired. What happens is that they immediately go off work on "stress leave" but then they never recover sufficiently to return to the CP front lines. So this is usually a career-ending event.  There will be a lot of soul-searching going on in that office in the days and months to come.  Indeed, the entire Ministry will be in a state of high anxiety and there will be multiple investigations at all levels.

If I can add my two cents to all the reams of commentary that will accumulate on this file I will say this.  The bigger picture is that this is not a is an epidemic of mental illness that is being fed by our society and our culture.  It does not take a rocket scientist to conclude that a man who is so stunted in his development and mentality that he's rendered incapable of feeding or housing himself...when backed into a corner could be a potential risk to himself and others.

Untreated Mental Illness Kills Kids!

Social workers become adept at working "Risk Factor" spread sheets on cases...determining the threat to the child of factors such as violence, poverty, sexual and physical abuse, etc.  A new factor that should go right to the top of the list is the existence of a "Dependent Personality Disorder" in one of the parents.

I don't remember DPD being at the top of any risk chart that I studied as a CP worker.  Here are some links to definitions and resources on Dependent Personality Disorder.   All of the cases described above have some elements of DPD as a causative factor.

IMO, if DPD is suspected in a case...a new protocol should be employed when approaching or dealing with a father who is DPD.  Mothers with DPD may have a slightly different protocol.  Here is a sample of steps that could be employed in a CP investigation:

1.  Assign a male worker to a case where a father is suspected of having DPD.  This worker should have excellent counselling abilities and see the interview primarily as an opportunity of determining how to lessen the stress factors on the father [housing, income assistance, employment re-training, etc.].  The reason I suggest a male social worker is because having an assertive female show up at your door might push a DPD father [who is entangled in a dependant relationship with a female] over the edge.

2.  Regard any person who, due to DPD, is incapable of caring for their own essential needs as a special social work issue all on its own.  Mental health services (counselling) and housing should be offered to the afflicted--unattached to any custodial situation.

3.  Most importantly, there needs to be public education on the symptoms and risks of DPD, particularly as it relates to custodial fathers.  Women caught in the situations of all the mothers described in the cases above should be made aware of the risks to themselves and to their children.

I don't care what Paul Craig Roberts says about blaming women for the emasculation of men.  DPD is something with far deeper roots than an uppity and demanding woman.  I really disagree with Paul when he goes off on one of his "feminist" rants.  The women in the cases described above were not feminists...they were, for the large part, simply brow-beaten women who struggled for years on behalf of their families.

Like a lot of mental illnesses [schizophrenia and bi-polar disorders to name just two] society started off its examination of their causes by blaming the sufferers' parents.  Further scientific study revealed biochemical imbalances of the brain.  DPD could be more like that---more like depression or OCD--than any fault of the upbringing of the DPD sufferer or his/her adult relationship partners.

What it comes down to is saving the lives of the children being put at risk in these situations.  According to newspaper photos and accounts from family and acquaintances, all of the five children involved in the three cases of child murder described above were beautiful, apparently happy and positive children.  That they died in such unspeakable conditions is one of humanities' greatest and most tragic failures.  We must try harder to prevent these inconsolable [for the survivors] deaths.  We must try to identify these "at risk" children and get to them--before the DPD sufferers do.

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