Judge orders 3 children returned to Somali parents

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 14, 2012 - 10:51 PM

The case caused an uproar in the Somali community.

A judge has allowed children removed from their home over abuse allegations to return to their parents in a case that caused uproar in the Somali community, whose members claimed it was the result of a culture clash.

Tuesday's decision by Hennepin County District Judge Frank Magill came less than a week after hundreds of Somalis showed up at a hearing in support of the mother, Dahabo Hussein Hassan.

Initially, six of the family's eight children were removed June 4. Two were returned last week and Tuesday's interim order allowed three more to return home. The 16-year-old girl who reported the abuse ran away from a shelter last week and is missing.

The children, ages 6-16, were placed in emergency shelters after the oldest alleged physical abuse at the hands of her mother, stepfather and 18-year-old brother.

The reports triggered intervention by Hennepin County Child Protection Services, which said the mother rebuffed offers for counseling services and other efforts to work with her. The mother's attorney claimed that requests for a translated parenting plan went unheeded, and that the children were traumatized by staying in a non-Somali shelter.

However, the Hennepin County Attorney's office countered that the shelter's trained staffers fed the children a proper diet and offered time for prayer that was consistent with their family's religious beliefs.

When the girl is located, she will stay temporarily at a shelter until a safety plan can be established within the family or with family relatives, according to the county attorney's office.

Magill's order states that the children's mother must meet several conditions, including cooperation with a child protection worker, who will make visits at least once a month. She also must co-operate with in-home parenting and anger management services. The children also may not be left alone with their 18-year-old brother.

In a statement, the attorney's office said county child protection workers use the same standard across cultures when they investigate a case, and in this one, determined that abuse has occurred. The statement said that once the mother refused to work with social workers, they became worried about the children's safety. The county attorney's office met with Imam Hassan Jama to discuss options for working together on future cases.

"We are committed to continuing that discussion and finding ways to learn from each other," the statement said.

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

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