Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Children At Risk

In preparation for a recent series of articles in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, I had the opportunity to speak by phone with Richard Wexler, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform (NCCPR). Mr. Wexler and his website are a wealth of information on the abuses of Child Protective Services (CPS) and how they are undermining parents ability to direct the upbringing of their children.

Our conversation took place just as the FLDS Texas raid was unfolding and over 400 children were placed in state custody. Highly critical of the various abuses by state officials, Wexler remarked that the definition of abuse has become anything the state says that is; and any parent that child welfare advocates suspects to hold beliefs that are out of the mainstream is considered suspicious, with children who may be at risk of abuse while in their care.

It became increasingly clear that the parents' beliefs were likely a key factor in the FLDS raid by Texas authorities, now we have a new story where Canadian child welfare authorities have taken away the children of alleged neo-Nazi's whose emotional well-being may be harmed by their parents' teachings.

Both of these cases demonstrate beliefs that are out of the mainstream but not necessarily criminal behavior; as such, the parents should be considered innocent until proven guilty of criminal activity. The parents beliefs alone should not give the state the right to remove the children to prevent possible abuse from occurring. It is the state's job to demonstrate that the parents are abusive before taking the children, not the job of the parent to prove that they are not in order to get their children back.

I agree with Richard Wexler,
"Being taken from everything loving and familiar is among the worst emotional blows that any child can suffer. It can leave lifelong scars. In addition, there is far more abuse in foster care than generally realized. Wrongfully removing a child from his parents can actually place that child at greater risk of child abuse and neglect.

If government officials are allowed to intimidate the FLDS or Neo-nazis and take away their children, who will they come after next? We are already seeing increasing scrutiny of homeschoolers in many states due to charges of "educational neglect" and "abuse," with calls from many quarters for increasing legal restrictions on homeschooling because our children are not under the daily watchful eye of the state in its schools.

Slippery slope? Maybe.

But remember, it only took one anonymous allegation for CPS to move in with tanks and guns and take over 400 FLDS children away from their mothers, and one "Hard Lemonade" at a Detroit Tiger's game for a father to temporarily lose custody of his son.

HT: Why Homeschool. More discussion at the Volokh Conspiracy

The Common Room, who has excellent coverage of the FLDS story, shares an interesting testimonial about CPS here.

No comments: