After years of neglect, a boy identified only as Gavin hanged himself just days before his 10th birthday. Gavin was found by his nine-year-old sibling.
When paramedics arrived, they described the house as dark - there were no lightbulbs in Gavin’s room or anywhere else upstairs in the house. In fact, they had to find lightbulbs downstairs in order to retrieve the unconscious boy.
Gavin, the eldest of three children, had been in and out of child protective services due to neglect. The family’s troubled history included Gavin and his siblings “experiencing poor home conditions and witnessing chronic domestic violence and abuse,” said a 76-page Serious Case Review by the protection authorities of Stockton, England.
At the time of the incident, the family was not involved with protective services. “Ultimately the [lack of protection] probably had little connection to the incident that led to the commission of this serious case review,” the report said. “However it may have had an unseen effect on the daily life experiences of Gavin which the agencies probably insufficiently took into account.”
Just months prior to the incident Gavin’s school reported that he seemed withdrawn and often appeared unkempt. Gavin was a British junior wrestling champion and characterized as popular with his classmates and endowed with a “good sense of humor” and a beautiful singing voice. The head teacher of his school told the Gazette “he was a child with a sad face even when he was happy.”
The author of the report, Mike Harrison, who has 37 years of experience in children’s social services, was “struck by what appears to be the collective inaction of those professionals involved with Gavin and his family… to take supportive action to ensure his needs were being met and that he was being satisfactorily safeguarded.”
The review highlighted many “missed opportunities” to safeguard Gavin and the inadequacies of child protective agencies.
Sources: The Gazette
Image via Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez