In Some Cases Abused Children Are Actually Kept Or Put In Harm’s Way
Concerned Citizen Advocates For Abused Children
If you knew a young child was being physically abused — routinely — in their home, what would you do about it?
If you became aware that an adolescent girl was subjected to a pattern of sexual abuse by a family member, what would your reaction be?
If you were informed that a neighborhood baby’s most basic needs were being neglected because of chronic drug and alcohol abuse by an unemployed single parent, how would you respond?
Believe it or not, these 3 situations are commonly reported to Child Protective Services and yet sometimes ignored or mishandled in such a way that it is the abused child that continues to suffer their plight.
Consider, for instance, the following report and excerpt which portrays a pervasive CPS predicament that is far more widespread than acknowledged, even by this investigative report.
When Child Protective Services received a complaint that a Harris County father had choked his teenage daughter, caseworker Michelle Robinson said she hurried to the house, conducted a thorough investigation, determined there was no merit to the allegations and closed the case.
Except she didn’t. In October, a Harris County jury convicted Robinson for falsifying CPS records, concluding that she’d lied when she said she’d interviewed key sources in the case and that she left the young girl in danger. Robinson was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay a $300 fine.
It’s true that the greatly overburdened Child Protective Services in larger cities are cesspools of this type of conduct. Were a seasoned investigator to open the CPS files in Detroit or Chicago, Atlanta or New Orleans, Los Angeles or Houston, they would be shocked at the number of abuses (both at-home child abuse and the unnecessary abuse caused by incompetent CPS process and workers) which now occur systematically.
Out of sight, out of mind
The primary reason for so much child abuse going unreported is the same as why so many CPSs perform in a manner that serves the system, not the children they were established to protect. These crimes against the children are being committed under the radar, so to speak. They often occur in the poorest, least educated communities that have experienced decades of economic oppression and political neglect. Simply put, nobody cares … except those whose lives are directly impacted by the crimes of abuse.
It is actually the inadequate or incompetent or neglectful responses by CPS which is the bigger problem here. And there is a very good reason why that is the case. The following exposé and excerpt well sums up some of the financial incentives and economic causes for this pervasive state of affairs.
Child abuse is a horrific act, no matter how you define it.
That’s why we have so many laws, and public and private agencies, set up specifically with the charge to protect children and maintain their safety. It’s exactly why so much funding is directed toward this goal.
But did you know that the money funneled to states and child protective services actually encourages them to accuse you of child abuse and even murder, and to take your children, even if you’re not guilty, and even though they have absolutely no proof that you harmed your child?
Only by understanding some of the structural defects of the CPS system can they be appropriately addressed. Likewise, only when the systemwide rules and regulations are properly rewritten will the most problematic incentives be removed. The foundational legislation which undergirds the whole system must also be reconsidered, if the root causes are to be suffiently remedied.
Until these necessary steps take place, the CPS of every major city will continue to experience a substantial uptick in reports like the one that follows:
Before 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez was allegedly beaten to death by his mother and her boyfriend, they doused him with pepper spray, forced him to eat his own vomit and locked him in a cabinet with a sock stuffed in his mouth to muffle his screams, according to court records made public Monday.
Sworn grand jury testimony provided a graphic examination of the abuse that the Antelope Valley boy allegedly suffered before his death in May of 2013. The incident prompted calls for sweeping reforms to the troubled Los Angeles County foster-care system because child welfare workers failed to remove the boy.
(Source: Child Protective Services of LA County in State of Emergency)
What can be done in the meantime?
The amount and degree of child abuse now exceeds all previous levels. The many urban centers continue to expand as population densities increase everywhere. The many social ills which inevitably accompany such growth are only exacerbated in this ever-stressful environment. The financial pressures which families regularly operate under contribute immeasurably to this predicament, as do the dearth of economic opportunities in the underprivileged communities.
That is the stark reality.
Therefore, it really is up to each individual to respond appropriately toward each child abuse situation that develops. Whether one’s relationship to an abuser is family or friend, co-worker or casual acquaintance, neighbor or delivery-person, it really is incumbent upon each person who is privy to the impropriety to rise to the occasion, particularly when children are being routinely abused in a serious way.
After all, the child is both powerless and defenseless in most contexts. If those who are in the know don’t react appropriately to the abuse problem, who will? It is usually the case that the abusive party(ies) is highly attuned to keeping their destructive and injurious behavior from ever being witnessed. As a result, there are often very few people who might observe the abusive behavior being acted out. Any injuries which are inflicted are always explained away as a childhood accident such as “he fell off his bike”.
How to go about addressing an ongoing child abuse case by the whistleblower
Usually, the safest way for a whistleblower to proceed involves informing the appropriate authorities. It is only CPS that possesses the legal power to remove the child from their abusive circumstances. Of course, the family courts play a big part in this process, as does the foster care system. In both cases the problems can be greatly exacerbated or simply mishandled so that the child is even worse off.
This is where an interested or involved whistleblower can really become effective. They can track the process from afar by following the case in the media or through FOIA requests. They can also communicate with a family friend who is in the know so that the progress (or lack thereof) can be relatively closely monitored. As it was mentioned, the real quagmires to watch out for are those where the Family Court judges or foster care administrators render disastrous decisions, either by accident or by design.
When the real bad decisions are made by design, it is exceedingly important to proceed with caution. While righting the obvious wrongs will require extra determination, doing so in a manner that is smart and discrete is exceedingly important. Who hasn’t heard the cliche: “You can’t fight City Hall.”
While that may or not be true, why fight it when you can get it to work for you. Only because of the internet has the playing field been somewhat leveled. Leveraging the alternative media, in particular, can disseminate an urgent message which can be promptly delivered to the computer screen of virtually anyone in America, even the CPS caseworker, or presiding judge, or foster parent.
Herein lies the crux of the strategy to compel the local CPS to do the right thing. Whenever they veer away from acting responsibly, their misdeeds can be catalogued and sent to them (and the local media) at any time. The same record of indiscretions and/or misconduct can also be strategically placed on receptive news media platforms as a way of letting the perpetrators know that you know exactly what’s going on. In this way — always executed anonymously — the CPS investigators, judges and foster care workers are given the opportunity to do the right thing.
Some times the involved system participants are simply so overworked that they can’t think straight. The aforementioned conviction of the woman caseworker who was fined $300 said her main excuse was that she was way overworked with too many cases to handle responsibly. The results of the CPS investigation in same article goes on to say that:
While each case is different, one clear theme emerges in the personnel and investigation records: An unmanageable workload and intense pressure to close cases compels workers to cut corners.
One California child advocate, who has been investigating mishandled cases at the LA CPS, has anonymously responded to the preceding observation as follows:
The caseload that CPS creates comes with the ‘catch’ that only a certain percentage of reports should ever be investigated in the first place.
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) does nothing to protect children; rather, the law in fact encourages agencies to make false accusations against parents in order to tear families apart for financial gains. Even more outrageous are the cases of children and their protective parents who find themselves the victim of the Catch-22 of the CAPTA law.
The Catch-22 consists of the following: The non-offending parent can be charged with felony child endangerment and arrested for not protecting the child, if they do not report an act of abuse to the authorities. However, reporting child sexual abuse triggers a series of events that can lead to the child being placed in the custody of the accused offender.
Why is this? Again, the financial incentives of CAPTA don’t come to the states and counties if there is not a significant amount of abuse going on in their localities. The professionals who make the recommendations and judgments have been educated to minimize allegations of incest whenever there is a custody dispute, due to the possibility of a false allegation. The result is that the testimony of the young victim/witness is effectively silenced; and the child is consequently endangered.
There really is a check on the system. It is the people of conscience who interact with the system. The fact is that the Child Protective Services across the nation have never been so overloaded, and it will only get worse before it gets better. Hence, it is crucial to recognize from the outset that it is much better to work with the system, however one can. Fighting the system in an unproductive manner doesn’t help the abused child out either.
Of course, if every reasonable initiative has been taken, and things have only gotten worse, then a Plan B or Plan C may be in order. This is where the intention is critical in determining the most likely outcome. Acting out of genuine concern for the child, because it is the right thing to do, will certainly go a long way.
While it may sound self-serving, advocating for an abused or injured child will also help the advocate. It has been said that, ultimately, everything we do, we do for ourselves. By doing the right thing for ourselves as well as for others, we feel good about ourselves and our benevolent role in society. Ignoring the festering wound of child abuse which only we can help heal, will eventually bring us down.
However, it is not the guilt which compels us to action, it is the desire to do the right thing. After all, wouldn’t we hope and pray that someone would assist us if we were in a similar abusive situation that showed no signs of relenting.
Concerned Citizen Advocates For Abused Children
June 28, 2015