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When a foster carer is killed by the child there is a need to assuage the fear of other potential foster carers

Date: (14 August 2012)    |    

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After a boy killed his foster carer the Scottish Association of Social Work has urged professionals to reassure would-be foster parents.
Dawn McKenzie of Hamilton, who was fostering a boy, was killed by the 13 year old. The boy, now 14, has not been named due to legal reasons has been sentenced to seven years for killing his carer.
The judge ordered that he be detained for seven years and monitored for a further five after he was found guilty of culpable homicide on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The Scottish Association of Social Work described the case as “highly unusual” and allayed any fears by urging potential carers not be deterred from fostering as a result.
Ruth Stark, manager of the association, said the killing was an “extremely tragic case”, but emphasised the fact that McKenzie’s death could not have been prevented.
The boys violent actions, according to psychiatrists, was said to be unpredictable and reports also suggested that he was due to go on a holiday with McKenzie which show that his attack was unpredictable.
Sadly, it was more often the case that foster carers abuse children rather than the other way round. But either way, the numbers of incidents of abuse between foster carers and the children they foster, was very small.
There were many, many more cases of successful fostering arrangements that have had a transformational effect on the lives of disadvantaged young people Ruth Stark said.
She added that potential foster carers needed on hand advice of professionals; they also needed the support to deal with serious incidents such as the McKenzie case.
It needed a lot of courage to take a death along with the caseloads on every day work where one has to deal with what one has to deal with she said.
The Scottish Association of Social Work is currently running a series of continuing professional development seminars on the issue of dealing with traumatic death.
She explained that practitioners in Scotland were of the opinion that this particular issue was something which needed a careful approach to deal with because it happens in all sorts of different ways.
Social workers deal with everything from suicide to murder and violent assaults. Sadly professional social workers were also getting killed by their clients every year, so they needed to be supported through it she said.