Saturday, July 28, 2007

What Would You Do?

Warning -- this is not my usual type of cheerful or humorously ranting post. Contains disturbing material. Read on at your own risk.

If one of your children sexually assaulted his two younger siblings, would you bring that child home pending his entrance into an alternative facility?

Well, down here in our fine area of the state, a mother was forced to do exactly that.

Dusty, the mother in the article, was told she could be arrested and charged with neglect if she failed to pick up her eldest son after his release from a juvenile facility. The judge said he didn't think she'd be charged, but he could make no promises and that CPS would become involved at a minimum if she failed to get her son.

Of course, they'll likely also become involved because she did pick him up.


So, let's see...

Don't pick up son who you personally believe to have raped his two younger brothers?

Potentially get charged with neglect.

Pick up son who you personally believe to have raped his two younger brothers?

Potentially get charged with failure to protect on behalf of the younger children.

Oh, and any attempts to confine the eldest child in his room pending his entrance into the alternate living facility could result in "false imprisonment" charges.

Leaving the younger kids with family members while their elder brother was in the home could potentially be construed as abandoment. Besides, these children did nothing wrong. Why should they have their lives uprooted for a brother who raped them?

Why is there nothing in place to keep an underage sexual offender out of the very home where he committed his crimes?

The only possible recourse I see for this mother is for her to keep her eldest son under constant surveillance, which would require multiple adults in the house, each taking a shift watching the boy so he wouldn't have an opportunity to repeat his crime. And even assuming she has those resources, that still leaves open the door for potentially exposing her younger children to a known danger.

Lest anyone think I'm overstating matters regarding this case, please remember I used to work in the system. Both law firms I worked for handled child dependency (CPS) cases. I will absolutely grant you that there are cases where the children are better off outside the family home, and in those instances relative or foster care is the only option.

But I have sat on the phone with case workers and have them lie to me regarding the firms' clients' activities. Why do I know the case workers were lying rather than the clients? Because these same caseworkers lied about not receiving the messages I left for them (which I logged in the case file each and every time).

The attorneys I have worked for have come back from court having gone through the same thing, and have watched the case workers backpedal when the call logs were brought out. I have had investigators for the state refuse to make proper requests through the clients' attorneys, continuing to badger the clients at home and at their place of employment.

That said, I have also witnessed parents regaining custody of their children after successfully defeating the problems they were facing that legitimately resulted in their children's removal. I have also seen children go from miserable situations into stable situations where they have thrived... only to be thrown back into the same unstable situation that resulted in their removal in the first place.


So if I sound sickened, disgusted, and depressed over these situations and this one in particular, it's because I am. CPS can do good, and in some cases does. In too many cases, though, it's a flat-out failure of the system.

As I've heard it said in so many places of late: I love my country, but I fear my government.

And CPS.


Babs RN said...

We have a similar situation in our state with psychiatric patients. The goal is to have them managed at home. We no longer have long-term pychiatric beds in our state. At ALL.

And if they're kids, they're forced back onto the parents. So what happens when that person is volatile, unstable, and dangerous?

You guessed it. Keep the one who might kill you and lose the innocent ones whose only crime is having been gestated in the same womb.

It's so wrong on so many levels.

Mark said...

I"m dealing with my own situation with CPS right now. and like I wrote on my blog, come to help me not hinder me. and please leave your notions and prejusices at the door. But it never seems to work out that way.

Amanda said...

Babs, yep... wrong on more levels than I can possibly even go into.

I know not every situation is like this one, and there is undoubtedly more to the story than has been told (like this child could have psychiatric issues -- goodness, he'd better, to have done this to his brothers), but on the surface it's just wrong to make a mother choose between potential arrest and the safety of her two younger innocent offspring.

Mark, yeah, I know. In fact, in commenting to your post I finally decided to suck it up and post on this issue. I try to avoid these topics, as they really get me angry... but then again, if I don't speak, who will? I can't count on others to always say waht needs to be said. So... there it is, in all its semi-rantalicious glory.

Your situation is just so absurd. I mean, first there's the Asperger's component with your son, which certainly plays into how he is perceived (and which the reporting individual apparently didn't even take into account). And I'm not a huge spanking proponent, but I know that every family isn't mine, and frankly your discipline is so minimal that I'm utterly outraged on your behalf. How DARE they tell you how to discipline your children! One whack on the behind, even with a paddle, is NOT child abuse.

Good grief.

tz said...

I'm at a loss for words. Amazing, and yes the innocent ones need to be protected but the thing I go to as a mother is what that poor woman must feel, even though her son did a horrible thing, he's still her son and she must love him and wants help for him and then she loves her victimized children also (ok, most likely first son was victimized at one time and may be acting out) and needs to protect them from their brother. This, I'm sure was not the family she dreamed of, what a loss on so many levels for her and I know not the point of the story but it's where my mind is going.

And there does need to be something set in place for situations like these. How horrible to not have a readily available solution....But then it's improbable to beable to forsee something like this (ok, maybe that's me being naive to the darker side of life).

Babs RN said...

One whack on the behind, even with a paddle, is NOT child abuse.


I am reminded of the story about a man who disciplined his child in a parking lot. Someone complained (as if they wouldn't be complaining about undisciplined children) and a deputy knocked on his door.

The man told him very plainly, "If you're telling me that I can't do what it takes to control my son, then fine. You can have him. Take him on."

The deputy left, never to return.

Amanda said...

Babs, heh... yeah, I've heard that one as well. It's a beautiful thing.

The sad fact is, though, that in this day and time (at least in my area), the police officer would have called CPS who would then have taken the man at his word and taken his child to raise for him.

It's just maddening, to say the least.

And TZ, yes, this is heartbreaking on so many levels. I'm sure the mother is wondering what happened, if she went wrong somewhere. At least that's what I'd be wondering. Because we all know that regardless of how hard parents try, there are some kids who are just going to turn out... off, for lack of a better word.

There is very almost nothing my children could do that would cause me to cut them off. This might come close, though.

Mauigirl said...

Wow, talk about a Catch-22. There is no win-win in this situation. I hope the mother manages to deal with it until the 13-year-old can be given help elsewhere. How awful for her.

Amanda said...

Maui, indeed, it's a terrible Catch-22.

I honestly don't know what I'd do in this type of situation, and I hope I never have to find out.