Pre-teen tearaway causes anguish

At the age of 12 most children are happy enough with video games or sports instead of sex.But one Suffolk girl has gone off the rails onto a one-way track to destruction, according to her mother.

By Tracey Sparling

At the age of 12 most children are happy enough with video games or sports instead of sex.

But one Suffolk girl has gone off the rails onto a one-way track to destruction, according to her mother.

In desperation she signed the girl over to social services, but now claims they can't control her either.

The Evening Star has disguised her identity to give her every chance for a better life in future.

SHE sleeps with strangers, is a suspected burglar who ran away 13 times in a week, was found paralytically drunk and is into drugs - but Tasha Sims is not even old enough to be called a teenage tearaway.

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That's all according to her distraught mother, who fears the next telephone call she gets about her delinquent daughter will be to say that she has been found dead in a ditch.

Janet Sims already fears the pretty 12-year-old is pregnant. The tears spill down her face as she dreads her daughter's future, which she is now powerless to control.

In desperation she signed her parental control away in February and put Tasha in care.

But now just weeks later she claims social services are already dismally failing to protect the youngster -and says her behaviour is getting worse.

Janet said Tasha had always been awkward as a child, but tensions escalated after she became disabled.

Janet said: "Her behaviour started to get bad then. She went off with two boys she didn't know, in a car and her brother ran after them but they drove off.

"She ran away a couple more times and was on the verge of being suspended from school for smoking. In their words she was out of control.

"It was having an effect on my health. I couldn't cope with her, as well as come to terms with the accident. I asked my doctor and he wrote to social services asking for respite care to give us both a break from each other, but they said they didn't really do that and she was my responsibility.

"She then ran off 13 times in seven days, and the police kept bringing her back only for her to take off again.

"She would stay out all night. I once locked her in but she climbed out of her bedroom window. I know one night she slept in a caravan with an 18-year-old because the police found out about that.

"In the end I asked them not to bring her back any more. It was not a decision I took lightly, having to tell the police not to bring my daughter home. It was hard for me to say I didn't want her back, but I thought at least in social services' care maybe they could keep her in."

But at a meeting with staff in the childrens' home, Janet said she found out that Tasha was doing 'self harm' and had been put to bed paralytically drunk, but said staff 'glossed over' the details.

She tried to get a solicitor to get Tasha medically tested to see if she was having sex, but claims social services deliberated too long over getting the necessary interim care order.

Meanwhile, the worry continued.

"Every night for weeks they would telephone me to say Tasha had gone again, then at 3am or 4am they would phone me to let me know she was safe. They had to legally inform me, but I didn't want to know because there was nothing I could do. It got to the stage when if the phone went at about 9pm, it would always be about her.

"I've tried to explain to her that I can't cope. I know I haven't been the perfect mum.

"She came for lunch one day and looked at me as if to say 'I'm doing what I want when I want. She said she liked living there because she didn't have to follow rules. I told her to watch the tv news about a 13-year-old girl missing, feared dead, but she refused.

"I'm just banging my head against a brick wall now. There's nothing the police can do, social services say they can't stop her going out, but I put her in care to protect her. They don't believe in punishing her."

She said incomplete reports revealed Tasha often stayed out all night from the childrens' home which has a 9pm curfew.

In March she only spent 16 nights in the unit, and was missing on ten but later returned. In April she had stayed in for and least nine nights, and been missing for most of nine.

Janet said: "And they say she is getting better behaved?

"How she hasn't been found face down in a ditch already, I'll never know. I really think that.

"I'm not naïve. I know what she's doing with the older men she goes off with -she's not going with them for nothing, and what else do they want with a 12-year-old girl? She locked herself in the bathroom with a boy in the children's home, then hid in the shower. She's on police bail for being the lookout at a burglary.

"Social services say 'she has rights too', but that means putting her at risk. You have to think the worst to be able to protect her.

"I haven't totally written her off, but I don't know where else to turn."