August 13, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
The anti-father/anti-male press just can’t seem to stop itself. It shows the unmistakable signs of serious addiction to, among other things, making up “facts” to support anti-father/anti-male points of view for which there are no actual ones. The Daily Kos is one such site that’s in dire need of the intervention of those who care. In case there aren’t any of those, someone with a strong stomach and a high level of resistance to intellectual dishonesty needs to step in. Really, these people are desperate.
Here’s one example (Daily Kos, 8/11/14). The article, by the “Women’s Justice Center,” takes on a phenomenon that might be worth the pixels in the hands of a scrupulous analyst, which lets the WJC out. The phenomenon is that of child protective agencies removing children from non-violent parents who fail to keep them safe from their violent partners. CPS agencies do that routinely and the practice can make perfect sense or constitute an outrage against the non-violent parent depending on the circumstances.
Whether the action is sensible or outrageous depends on the facts of each case. What did the non-offending parent know and was he/she truly capable of preventing the child’s abuse. We can all imagine scenarios in which either response might be warranted and, based on the track record compiled by CPS in other instances, we can be confident that the agencies dropped the ball often enough.
But that’s not the Women’s Justice Center’s beef. No, as we might have expected, their complaint is that the entire concept of holding one parent responsible for failing to protect a child from abuse by the other parent (or partner or other person) is just a cynical ploy to privilege fathers at the expense of mothers. How do they figure? Simple. They make up facts.
Since the non-offending, nonviolent parent in these cases is usually the mother, we often refer to this parent as 'the mother', though there are certainly cases where the non-offending parent is the father.
The Situation as it Usually Unfolds
In brief, the particular problem we cover usually unfolds like this. A mother herself seeks help from CPS or becomes involved with CPS through someone else's report of suspected child abuse. Her child has been physically or sexually abused by a family member, usually by a male family member, or there are concerns the child is living in a home where there is domestic violence.
As we know and the Women’s Justice Center ought to know, women do the great majority of abuse and neglect of children. Although it’s discontinued gathering statistics on which parent is responsible for abuse or neglect, up until 2009, the Administration for Children and Families reported every year for eight years that mothers committed about twice the abuse and neglect of children that fathers do. My guess is that someone complained that the actual facts were giving mothers a bad rap, so the ACF stopped separating data on abuse by mothers and fathers from the aggregate numbers.
But we still know that women commit the majority of the abuse and neglect of children and that children are far safer with two biological parents than anywhere else. So, although there are no figures for the proposition, it stands to reason that, to the extent non-violent parents are seeing their children taken from them due to the abuse or neglect committed by the other parent, it’s mostly men holding the bag. Indeed, that’s exactly what happened in this case (New York Law Journal, 8/12/14).
Of course when one parent is abusive and the other isn’t, CPS is faced with a dilemma. The non-abusive parent has parental rights, but, if the child is kept with him and he lives with the abusive mother, then the child is exposed to abuse. So, although it’s technically a violation of his parental rights, the child is removed because to leave little Andy or Jenny with him would be to risk violence by the mother. I would argue that, where feasible, CPS should require the abusive parent to move out of the residence and leave the child in the care of the non-abusive parent, but of course often the parents don’t have the money to do that.
Despite its entirely bogus anti-father stance, the Women’s Justice Center does get one thing right.
Perhaps the brightest spot on the horizon is the year 2005 resolution passed by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in support of presumptively open hearings with discretion of courts to close. Since their founding, most CPS/juvenile court proceedings have been operating in secret, completely off the public record. This secrecy has mushroomed the system's tendency toward abuse. The judges' 2005 resolution in support of open hearings is not yet law, but it's a promising step. It's highly unlikely any of the system's abuses will be corrected until this essential public airing and public scrutiny of the system's proceedings is firmly set into law and practice.
Agreed. I’ve said the same thing many times. Any agency of government that operates outside of press and public scrutiny is an agency that’s corrupt and abusive. Unsurprisingly, those two words describe much about child protective agencies across the country. Advocates of secrecy claim children would suffer if their cases are made public, but the fact is the vast majority of them would never see the light of day because they’re not news. The overwhelming majority of cases are too everyday and mundane to ever be reported. And of course judges would still retain the discretion to close cases deemed uniquely sensitive. More importantly, CPS employees would know they’re working in the public eye and that fact alone would improve both their behavior and the culture of CPS agencies that too often are imbued with a fortress mentality in which the public is considered the enemy.
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