Monday, September 17, 2007

Child Abuse Neglect Annual Report of Child Fatalities: 2006

There are definitely different types of child maltreatment...
If someone sees you swat your kid on the fanny in the grocery store
and someone called [Children Services],
in the past we either had to
label it child abuse or do nothing.
Marcia Tiger
Child Abuse? What about making me dress like this when the sun's shining...
and I just got a new truck?

Can't help wondering... why some states are so more advanced than others when it involves trying changes to stop child abuse and neglect? I can't imagine what political benefit to anyone in power not actively fighting for changes to all our laws involving child abuse and neglect. Call me naive...and I admit many do!... but who loses if everyone is required to report child abuse and neglect as in Indiana? Why "mandated reporters," who for various reasons too often avoid involvement. Look at the statistics on how few school reports are made, for example, and who, besides parents, is around our children more than a school teacher?

And how long, how long, I wonder, before other states follow suit and develop programs like the one in Youngstown, Ohio? The Youngstown Vindicator reports that the Agency chosen for program "was selected to participate in a pilot project that focuses on using alternative methods for investigating reports of child abuse and neglect." This is absolutely essential! The aritcle quotes Steve Hanson, who manages the Ohio Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Children, Families and the Courts as explaining:
"A family assessment ... assesses the needs of the child or family and offers services without requiring a formal disposition [substantiation] that maltreatment has occurred or that the child is at risk of maltreatment."

I'm so excited at the possibility... just imagine if we had fully trained, maybe even volunteers, who responded to calls! Something along the line of CASA's in terms of authority from the courts to investigate and report to CPS on each call indicating an immediately actionable situation, and to another agency where any necessary services can be determined and provide? The volunteers could be assigned to follow any at-risk cases and to insure children don't "fall through the cracks. If we stopped treating struggling parents as criminals and gave them services to upgrade their parenting and life skills, we'd all benefit.

CPS can't begin to handle the reports they receive, and I suspect many, like myself, don't want to call them unless a child's life is obviously in danger because of the horror stories that abound regarding CPS. One woman I know, caught up in the system cried out in frustration, "Why do they call themselves Child Protective Services anyway? Tell me just who gets the service? Not children, not families. Or maybe it's just the privatized services making so much money through them?" One wonders...

Unfortuately, the cynic in me suspects we won't see any great strides in that direction until someone figures out how to make money on it... and then gets caught in the greed trap of cutting corners so more money can be made as is the case with so many other aspects of our world today.

Take aware,
Nancy Lee

No comments: