I thought that header might have gotten your attention, but this isn’t going to be some Oliver-Twistian post about how awful children are, nor a touchy-feely post about emotional abuse. In fact, it’s going to have very little to do with the subject of children at all. NO, this post is about us, we ADULTS, who whine about “the system” and all the ways the “the system” is broken, without considering that we may, perhaps, be the agents of our own demise.
Yep. I said it.
I know that we live in a time when an oppressive state uses the “rights of the child” as a means of denying human rights to a population that encompasses much of the world: you can’t use the word “retard”, the word “freak” or the word “cripple” but you can say the word “parents” like you’re swearing, spit it from between your teeth like a dirty thing….
In Harry Potter: “If there’s something wrong with the bitch, there’s something wrong with the pup”
In the News Media: “Parents charged with drug and gun possession” (really? whose) and “Teens on off-road vehicles get parents charged”
Online: Googling “it’s the parents’ fault” brings up more than a few results.
To me, the problem isn’t parents: it is parents being treated, and in some cases treating themselves, like children. We’re conditioned to think that we have no personal power, and that the state should be a parent to us: confidant for our woes, solver of all of our problems, saviour to all of our sins. My generation, the generation who can thank authors like Dr. Spock for blaming our parents for everything, has grown up into a bunch of snivelling policy-makers who trust no adult and blame OUR parents for everything. My question is, when will this cycle end? When is my generation going to grow up and realize that maybe, just maybe, some of that blame for our childhood exploits belongs squarely on our own shoulders?
What is an oppressive government to do? With so many citizens whining on the doorstep, they’ve implemented policies to respond. My favorite is the section of the Child and Family Services Act (Ontario Canada) which reads that a child protection worker has the right to remove a child from a home THEY deem unfit “using force if necessary”. The police can act as child protection workers in Ontario, but the main claim to that title are a bunch of people employed by, according to the definitions section of the CFSA, “a corporation”.
I would propose that the words “using force if necessary” allow for any person “accused of abuse” to be treated as non-human under Ontario legislation, and that the statement should be illegal under Federal Criminal Law. Not even the police have this power over other human beings, and yet child protection workers are given this power over parents AND, (apparently more importantly) over their children.
But, those are just parents who have abused their children…who have broken the law by physically assaulting another human being, right? Right?
According to their own statistics, the groups “served” by most Canadian child protection agencies are not representative of the idea we have of them. In fact, most abusive parents get away with it. That’s why the News Media tend to report “child murdered by parents” more often than they report “child nearly murdered by parents, saved by child protection worker”. A study you can find at http://www.fixcas.com reports that children are 7-10 times LESS likely to die in the care of their own parents, than in foster care. Hmm. Go figure.
Looking at the statistics kept by child protection agencies (keeping in mind that their numbers are artifically bolstered by constant moving of the same children from one agency to another) one can see that less than 5% of their “clients” are cases of physical or sexual assault. The rest of the “red flags” on their risk assessment look a little anti-constitutional to me: disability of the child, disability of the parent, race and age of the parent, having a messy house, number of children in “the home”, and so forth.
I would question whether the CFSA is just a back-door method of removing human rights from those groups mentioned in the Human Rights code, and should therefore be re-written if not abolished entirely. Simply put, in the case of an actually abusive parent, criminal charges would be laid. Harassing any parent who is not abusive, is both harassment, and a waste of government resources. Not to mention our own. Those are taxpayers’ dollars.
But we (stupid useless children) refuse to learn about the processes of government, and understand what is implied in a policy that is clearly unfair. We sit around our houses, or on the internet, devising conspiracy theories and talking about how unfair it all is, without a willingness to follow due process, bring these concerns to government, and allow the policies that are so negatively affecting our (and our children’s) lives, to be changed.
Moreover, we accept the authority of an agency, a private corporation that has been given said authority by a means that is completely illegal under Canadian legislative law. I literally cannot count the number of times I’ve offered to help a friend, only to hear them say they’d rather get the help from child protection services, the medical community, or welfare. Any state organization, but for heaven’s sake, NEVER from their own community! How indoctrinated are we? And can this be termed indoctrination, if the organization doing it DOESN’T EVEN WANT THE JOB?
The average length of a social worker’s career is one year. When it comes to child protection, that would be the childless year between the age of 23, and the age of 24. Renee Zellwegger’s character in Case 39 says this much better than I ever could “I’m 25 years old, I’ve never raised a child. Yet I’m presented as this AUTHORITY on how to care for children. It’s all just bull****”
Bull, indeed. As parents, we need to also be human beings. And by human beings, I mean RECOGNIZED AS HUMAN BEINGS UNDER THE LAW. I do not believe that it was the intention of the UN convention on the rights of the child to REMOVE the rights of parents in the process. I am not a conspiracy theorist who thinks CAS and the Child and Family Services Department are run by the Black Box People, or whatever secret society/criminal organization/tin foil hat inducing aliens we think we’re dealing with this week. You won’t catch me standing on a box with a sign that reads “the radio can hear my thoughts”.
That said, I do believe that the language used by the CFSA tends to create discrimination by removing the human rights of a group of people “parents” and saying no law applies to a second “child protection workers”. I do not believe that repeating history by using Freud’s method of judging the healthy by the sick (Asylums, anyone?) is going to do anyone any good. In short, CFSA, CAS, and Canadian Government, when it comes to the Family Unit:
If it Aint Broke, Don’t Fix It!
And your own statistics prove that 89.9% of the time, it is not “broke” and that child protection services are removing children to an unsafe environment. It’s time to stop talking about “duty to report” and start talking about risk assessment. It’s time to inform the schools that they have the right, as adult human beings with care of our children, to deny access to CPS workers, to take RESPONSIBILITY for the children in their care and force CPS workers to follow the law by contacting parents. It’s time to let hospitals know that they need to respect parents’ wishes with regard to their special needs children. And that having wishes with regard to their special needs children is NOT abuse! It’s time to STOP funding a child protection organization, and telling ourselves they are doing the job of the many family support social services from whom they are siphoning funding.
It’s time to stop acting like children and start being adults. Adult human beings who might still have some rights under the law, if they don’t come up with some new legislation to take those away, too.
Because this isn’t figurative. It’s happening, right under our noses. And because I don’t want the point to be buried in the figurative language above I’m going to hit you with a few examples, cases I have seen, things that really took place, and if you care to, let me know how you support these situations as child abuse. I don’t have to remove names to protect the innocent, because each of these situations has happened to six or more people, who I have personally met.
1. Child protection services are called to a domestic disturbance, where one partner is attacking the other partner, who has locked him or herself into a room with the children, trying to keep all of them safe.
CPS response ten years ago: remove the abused spouse and children to a shelter. Charge the other spouse.
CPS response today: remove the children. Leave the abused spouse with the abusive spouse. Blame the victim. Refuse to give the children back. Put the children in separate foster homes where they will be abused for the next ten or so years, and then turned out on the streets to welfare.
2. Child protection services are called because a poor family cannot afford to provide the necessities of life for a baby on the way.
CPS response ten years ago: Tuck into their large donation pool in order to provide the family with a crib, toys, and clothing for the baby, and/or ensure that they are in touch with social services that can help. Continue contact with the family for 3-6 months after the baby is born, monthly check-ins asking “how can I help?” rather than “what are you doing wrong?”
CPS response now: Tell the family everything is fine and then wait at the hospital. Wait until the child is born and the parents are sleeping, ask a nurse to take the baby off to another room and have the baby removed from the hospital and put in care, often without receiving the proper prenatal care. Rush a neglect judgement against the parents, and place the child in foster care for 8-12 months during an important bonding period. Remove the child from the home of any foster parents who become too close. Make the child a crown ward and collect hefty adoption fees, effectively traficking a human being. Often, CPS will give the child up for adoption while the parents are still in court fighting for visitation. And that hefty donation pool? Sure makes a nice gift to a foster parent, or adoptive family, taking on a new baby…and just think how many times you can re-use the same crib! New items requested by foster families generally go to their own children, and their children’s hand-me-downs go to the foster kids.
3. False claims of abuse.
CPS response ten years ago: Alert emergency services (police, ambulance) to the claim of abuse, give the phone number, address, and name of the person making the claim, not to the parent the claim is about, but to emergency services. Emergency services would be dispatched and the claimant charged, if the claim is proven false.
CPS response now: DO NOT ALERT EMERGENCY SERVICES. Send a single worker to the home, more than a week later. When the claim is proven false (eg. the parent being accused of abuse was provably at work on the day of the claim, the child was at a daycare centre) continue to keep the file open and monitor the family for 3-6 months. Close the file stating that “the claim could not be verified but issues may still occur”. Log the name, address, and phone number of the parent being accused into a Provincial and sometimes Country-wide database, as well as the fact that there was a “child protection claim” against that person, instantly validating the report. If asked who called, tell the parent that the claimant’s information is confidential, even while publicly defaming the parent with the information given. In the course of the investigation, give details of the claim to everyone in the parent’s life: co-workers, family members, physicians.
Effective? The best method for dealing with these situations? Or unfair profiling of a group of people (parents) and removal of their human rights?
THAT is what we, as adults, not the spoiled children of a parent-state, need to ask ourselves.