One of the girls I see is awfully pretty and having a lot of trouble at school. She has a successful younger sister and a mum and dad who love her very much. And to say she has trouble at school is misleading – her big problem is with home.

At home she has been rather horrible, she screamed if asked to do something she doesn’t want to, she literally dug her heels in if she didn’t want to go somewhere, she would or would not eat what she was given, she did an awful lot of what she wanted, and not so much for other people. We have been working on this and now her mother is much more in charge. Unfortunately, and not uncommonly, her father finds it harder to be firm and, although he often says ‘No’, and means it, he then changes his mind. However, as time goes on, he is getting crosser and crosser when she is being annoying. [And in all fairness, I should point out that it turns out that she is not academically bright and that she is in a school which is probably quite unpleasant for her]

Like many parents, the father physically pushed [pushed as in manoeuvred, nut shoved] his daughter when she wouldn’t co-operate and he recently has left a mark on her wrist. School noticed and parents explained what had happened. Last week, though, the girl went in to school and said that her parents had punched her in the nose and took in a bloodied shirt to prove it. I don’t believe it for a moment, and was pleased that school phoned me to ask what I thought.

Unfortunately, but understandably, school felt the need to advise Child Protection and contacted them. They phoned to talk to parents and twice the girl said that Mum was out [she wasn’t]. So the Child Protection officer came round, and was told that Mum was having her hair done [she wasn’t]. She left a paper with her phone number on it, but the girl did not give it to Mum and it was only when they phoned again on Monday, when the girl was at school, that there was ‘the’ conversation.

It seems that Mum had asked her daughter to wipe the toothpaste from round her mouth, and the girl had refused. Mum wiped it with a flannel and the girl wriggled and banged her nose against Mum’s hand. Child Protection are inclined to believe Mum, especially after the girl’s wilful fibbing earlier.

The difficulty is now that Mum is anxious,  even to tell her daughter off – what will she do if the girl goes back to school claiming….. And yet this girl is highly vulnerable, socially very immature and very much at risk. It’s important that she learns to do as she is told, and who better to teach her than parents who love her very much indeed.