Ontario Civil

Family Law

Children at risk of physical harm due to prospect of recurrence of domestic violence

Application by Children’s Aid Society (CAS) for Crown wardship of two children for purpose of adoption. Mother had been subjected to physical and emotional abuse as child. Mother had first child at end of abusive relationship with first father. Mother received services from CAS due to inability to provide food. Concerns arose from mother’s failure to follow through with appointments and her use of physical discipline. Mother became involved in abusive relationship with second father and had second child with him. Children were apprehended based on reports of physical discipline while mother and children were living in shelter. Mother eventually lived with friend who was herself subject to CAS involvement. Mother was often late for access visits or cancelled them entirely. Mother declined access visits in foster home where she could have tried to enhance her parenting skills. Access visits revealed emotional detachment on part of mother. First child was resistant to attending access visits for period of time. Comprehensive assessment indicated mother would not be able to care for children on her own. During one access visit, mother chastised first child by saying she would take second child home and leave first child in care. Application granted. Children were in need of protection for several reasons. Older child had suffered physical harm at hands of mother before being apprehended at age of five. Mother’s treatment of older child had exceeded what might have been considered justifiable for disciplinary purposes. Mother’s conduct had resulted from loss of control when she was angry. Older child was at risk of future physical harm since mother’s harsh disciplinary tactics could recur if she was under stress. Nothing indicated younger child had been physically abused but there was risk that he would be subjected to same treatment as he grew older. Prospect of recurrence of domestic violence in mother’s life constituted further reason that children would be at risk of physical harm in her care. Mother was unable to offer anything other than bald assertion that she would not expose children to domestic violence. Mother had not yet obtained necessary counselling. Children were at further risk of serious emotional harm stemming from mother’s actions or omissions. Older child had already been diagnosed with, inter alia, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety that impaired his functioning in daily life. Mother’s lack of sensitivity to older child’s needs was well-documented. Younger child was again at risk of same treatment as he grew older.

Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto v. B. (S.S.) (Sep. 7, 2012, Ont. C.J., Murray J., File No. C 49201/09) 221 A.C.W.S. (3d) 357.

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