A few readers have been asking me this pertinent question about Broken Roots:
Why did Teisha not live by herself after the serious problems she had with her mother?
Well, let me explain…
Unlike in the United States, UK teenagers cannot legally emancipate themselves from their parents, if they are mistreated or have concerns with their folks’ parenting. Sixteen and seventeen year olds in the UK either live with their parents, carers, legal guardians or by themselves with the permission of a legal guardian, the state or a court.
Under 18s who are in care, do not always have a say on whether they can live by themselves, especially if the child is subject to a care order or are on the child protection register. If a child has special educational needs or a mental health problem, then this also has to be taken into consideration by the authorities or/and the courts. The authorities or/and the courts would look at the facts of the case and make that judgment as to what is best for that child or young person. Fourteen to seventeen year olds who have been in care for at least 13 weeks will have a Pathway Plan drawn up to help them look towards the future and to plan their next steps.
Given that Teisha was under children’s social services, was a vulnerable child on the child protection register, and had a mental health problem, it is unlikely that the state would’ve permitted her to live by herself. This is implied, rather than said overtly.
When Teisha lived on the streets, again, she could not live by herself independently without social services permission, as her case was open to children’s social services. As 17 year old Teisha did not report that her mother was missing, and then went missing herself, the authorities would not be in a position, or be inclined to, get the ball rolling, to allow Teisha to live on her own.