A woman holds a photo of a baby and an eagle feather at a Friday press conference in support of the mother whose newborn baby was seized from hospital by Manitoba’s Child and Family Services. (The Canadian Press/John Woods) The wailing of the family as a newborn baby is seized by child welfare officials could be heard far beyond the walls of the room in Winnipeg’s St. Boniface Hospital.
The mother clutches her daughter as her relatives huddle around her. Then she places her baby in a car seat, which Winnipeg police officers swiftly whisk out of the room.
Video of that apprehension, streamed on Facebook, spread quickly across social media after it was posted on Thursday — one family’s trauma on display for everyone to see.
A woman who advocates for families involved with Winnipeg Child and Family Services worries sharing the video online risks exposing the family to harsh judgment from people who don’t know the full story.
"I think it’s totally disgusting that people want to see something like this happen, because it’s just a sad moment for a family when their children are being ripped from them," said Mary Burton, a co-ordinator with Fearless R2W, a Winnipeg group that helps educate families about the CFS system.
On the other hand, Burton says there’s a positive in that the video is raising awareness of these types of apprehensions, which she says happen on average about once every day.
"You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t," said Burton. A family member hugs the mother and baby on a hospital bed as a police officer stands beside them in a still from the video shared on Facebook. The image has been blurred to protect their identities. (Facebook) The ubiquity of social media is challenging rules around privacy meant to protect families and workers in the CFS system. Families are increasingly sharing their experiences with Child and Family Services on social media, according to one professor of social work who has used videos of these interactions in classroom discussions.
"This stuff coming out on social media seems to escalate things," said Cathy Rocke, associate dean of undergraduate programs in the faculty of social work at the University of Manitoba. Revealing identity against the law
Manitoba’s Child and Family Services Act strictly forbids publishing identifying information about any person involved in CFS proceedings, with penalties of up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine for individuals, or $50,000 for corporations that violate the law.
The rules also prevent social workers from sharing information about a family with the province’s children’s advocate, unless the family gives written permission.
Those rules make it difficult to get a clear sense of why a child was apprehended in the first place, Rocke said.
"The public sees this video [and] will be going, ‘Oh my God, what is Child and Family Services doing? They’re just going in apprehending, willy-nilly,’" she said.
"If you know the entire picture, then I think sometimes you might get a better sense of what’s going on."
That lack of a full picture also concerns Burton, who says comments on the video revealed a willingness by people to jump to conclusions about the family.
"People only see what they want to see and they don’t see the whole circumstance," Burton said. Sharing video ‘healing’ for others
As for the family in the video, which was made by the mother’s uncle, they feel that sharing it on social media has had positive results. A woman wipes a tear during a press conference in support of the mother whose newborn baby was seized from hospital by Manitoba’s Child and Family Services. […]
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