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[personal profile] martin_wisse

Stories like this, of a Devon woman who became ill when on holiday in the US, had to go to hospital and her two daughters who were on holiday with her where sent to an orphanage and strip searched:

The family flew out to New York on 27 December. When Ms Bray began coughing later that day, she initially put it down to her asthma and the air conditioning on the flight.

The following night, she became more unwell with laboured breathing and was admitted to the Queen's Medical Centre in Harlem.

But Ms Bray was told her daughters could not stay with her at the hospital as they were minors.

"A doctor told me they would make the arrangements, then a few hours later a social worker arrived and said they'd try to find a foster family for the girls," she said.

"Instead of that they were taken to a orphanage and subjected to the kind of treatment you wouldn't even expect criminals to go through."

The frightened teenagers had their clothes, including their underwear, removed and were issued with a uniform of T-shirt and jeans before being spilt up and given a medical examination.

It's the automatic assumption that anybody foreign who comes into contact with the authoritians, no matter which authorities has to be a criminal and has no human rights while in the US. Even though the odds are small something like that would happen to me (after all, my parents managed to get in and out of Seattle with no problems last year), but the risks are too great. At best, it would be a humiliating, expensive experience, at worst a one way trip to Guantanamo.

And no, even after Bush is finally gone I won't chance it; this attitude is too ingrained in the US mentality to disappear with him. In thirty years maybe.

Date: 2008-01-25 05:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clanwilliam.livejournal.com
Actually, there's a totally different tone in her local paper here.

If you look at the situation, the authorities did the best they could do. The only thing that didn't happen was that they forgot to call the UK Consulate - or never knew that it was an option - and that there seems to have been an element of

Everything else checks out okay.

Sorting out something for unaccompanied minors? Check.
Ensuring their safety? Check.
Ensuring the safety of others? Check.
Protecting the girls' property? Check.
Subsequent follow-up letter from Child Protection Services? Check.

The girls were taken to a supervised place afterwards where they said they were fine and returned to their mother when she checked herself out of hospital.

Date: 2008-01-25 05:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] martin-wisse.livejournal.com
I disagree, obviously. The girls were treated like criminals and it was only because their mother checked herself out that they were able to leave the orphanage.

Date: 2008-01-26 02:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clanwilliam.livejournal.com
And if she hadn't been able to leave the hospital? What then? Do you think it's acceptable that social services would just "let" children with no available family or someone to take charge of them just go?

The girls were in there one night. Yes, it was disturbing for them. But pretty much every thing that happened to them made absolute sense. The hospital called the best people they could think of. Those people reacted in a suitable way to ensure the safety of those girls.

The mother checked herself out the next day and the girls were returned to her. Note that. She didn't have to go and chase down the actual location of the girls - the girls were brought to her.

And bear in mind that I'm a journalist. People have already pointed out the inconsistencies of the various reportings in this situation and they're pretty glaring.

Do you think that it's acceptable for social services to allow a couple of legal minors to just wander off? There's a child protection agency for a reason, and it's to protect those children.

Certainly there seem to have been a few errors of miscommunication, but overall, those girls received the best care they could on very short notice. They themselves seem to be fully aware of the fact that said care was designed for children at risk who needed to be removed from their families quickly - do you suggest that there should be an entire department to cater for the rare occasions in which an adult tourist falls ill, leaving a minor dependant on their own - and the girls didn't seem to have a chance to request to leave the orphanage.

Or would you rather that those girls had been left either unprotected and unsupervised in a busy hospital (and yes, calling 911 in the US will get you to a "public" hospital, which isn't pleasant in any major urban area) or dumped in a shelter with a bunch of unchecked teenagers who were traumatised in various ways (it was clear from the context that the "orphanage" was for children who needed shelter immediately)?

I was talking about this tonight with some friends. A retired policeman said that exactly the same thing would happen in the UK, and an American said that "minority" in terms of age ended at 18 in the US.

What would happen in Amsterdam in that situation?

Date: 2008-01-25 06:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bluesgirly.livejournal.com
I can understand the justified alarm here since this is obviously a difficult situation but what were hospital folks going to do with 2 minor kids and a mom who has been admitted? Wish they'd thought to call the consulate but the same thing would have happened to a US citizen in the same scenario. Child protective services would appear and take responsibility for minor kids.

You can find example after example of stupid things that go on in every country on earth so you may want to travel the globe regardless. Try and go to Israel. Or, India or Mexico and see if you can land in one of those places with a guarantee nothing will go wrong. Not much chance of that. Anyway, sorry you're sour on the USA and we're totally fun here so that's a shame:)

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