"Aaron only had about ten seconds to get away before the staff at the home found out what he'd done. He headed for the front door as quickly as he could without drawing attention to himself and sprinted down the driveway into the street. It was cold and drizzly. Hopefully the staff would be slow to come looking for him in the rain."
Their argument was that it shouldn't be that easy. Why didn't the care home staff lock the doors to keep the kids from leaving? Why didn't they have an alarm on the door and then chase down the driveway after him? Why didn't his social worker immediately raise the alarm? Doesn't she know better?
The answer is that children's care homes aren't that simple. Locking the door would make it less of a home and more of a prison or institution, and yes, sometimes that creates an element of risk.
As for whether Aaron has too much freedom generally, please do read this amazing article in Community Care, a website supporting those who work in social care.
The article begins by describing a young man called Keith who, although slightly older than Aaron, displays many of the same characteristics.
"Fifteen-year-old Keith was a physically intimidating kid who had a history of disruptive behaviour and physical violence towards staff and other young people in his previous placements. His risk assessment also reported that he played by his own rules and had no respect for boundaries."It then goes on to talk about how they cared for Keith, and the answer was not always to discipline him or be harsher with the boundaries. It then talks about other approaches that care workers have used, including giving them cigarettes, even where the boundaries state that they shouldn't be smoking.
"I’ve followed kids with a colleague and seen them approach strangers asking for a cigarette, or observed them picking up nubs in the street and smoking them. In such circumstances I’ve witnessed staff who smoke give the kid a cigarette, while emphasising the dangers of approaching members of the public. This might strike some staff as an easy option but I beg to differ. It’s a judgement call and the right one. Rules are in place because they are necessary, but they don’t always allow for common sense to be applied when dealing with a troubled and upset kid."
This barely scratches the surface of the approaches that children's homes take to make sure that children grow up safely and have a future. Sometimes the solutions aren't ideal, but things aren't always as clear-cut as you may think.