A HIGH Court judge said children taken from their parents should be placed with ‘culturally appropriate’ carers, following a ruling involving a Portsmouth family.
Mr Justice Baker said social workers are in danger of not appreciating the importance of children’s culture and religion.
The London judge, who sits in the Family Division of the High Court, said Muslim children should, where possible, be placed with Sunni or Shia carers in accordance with their background.
He has made comments in a ruling after being asked to make decisions about the futures of seven children from a Muslim family in Portsmouth. Social workers had raised concerns about the welfare of the youngsters – aged between four and 13.
The judge decided that all seven should be placed into the care of a local authority.
He concluded that two boys had been physically abused by their parents, and found that they had been hit, punched and kicked by their father. He also said a girl had been sexually abused by two older brothers.
The judge had analysed the case at a private family court hearing in Portsmouth. He has not identified anyone involved.
He said: ‘There is a danger, in our increasingly secular society, that those responsible for looking after children in care will not truly appreciate the importance of a child’s religion and culture.
‘If possible, children should be placed in foster placements that are culturally appropriate. Manifestly it will not always be possible to achieve a placement that meets these requirements alongside the other welfare needs of the child.’
He said social services staff should pay ‘particular attention’ to the religious and cultural needs of the seven children in the case he had analysed – and he said the council should fund study of the Koran.
‘The allocated social worker will hold meetings to discuss with the carers and promote the encouragement of the Muslim faith,’ he added.
‘The local authority will pay for and encourage the study of the Koran for each child if that child wishes to do so.’