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Child protection is used to describe a set of usually government-run services designed to protect children and young people who are 18 or under and encourage family stability. These typically include investigation of alleged child abuse, child protective services, foster care, adoption services, and services aimed at supporting at-risk families so they can remain intact.

Most children who come to the attention of the child welfare system do so because of any of the following situations, which are often collectively termed child abuse:

The United States government's Administration for Children and Families reported that in 2004 approximately 3.5 million children were involved in investigations of alleged abuse or neglect in the US, while an estimated 872,000 children were determined to have been abused or neglected and an estimated 1,490 children died that year because of abuse or neglect.

HistoryEdit

The concept of a state sanctioned child welfare system dates back to Plato's Republic. Plato theorised that the interests of the child could be served by snatching children from the care of their parents and placing them into state custody. To prevent an uprising from dispossessed parents:

"We shall have to invent some ingenious kind of lots which the less worthy may draw on each occasion of our bringing them together, and then they will accuse their own ill-luck and not the rulers." [1]

Usually the responsibilities are stated within an act of a provincial legislature of provincial parliament. This then empowers the government department or agency to provide services in the area and to intervene into families where child abuse or other problems are suspected. The government agency that manages these services has various other names in different provinces, e.g., child and family services, children's aid. There is some consistency in the nature of laws, though the application of the laws may vary across the country.

WorldwideEdit

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United KingdomEdit

The United Kingdom has a comprehensive child welfare system under which Local Authorities have duties and responsibilities towards children in need in their area. This covers provision of advice and services, accommodation and care of children who become uncared for, and also the capacity to initiate proceedings for the removal of children from their parents care/care proceedings. The criteria for the latter is 'significant harm' which covers physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect. In appropriate cases the Care Plan before the Court will be for adoption. The Local Authorities also run adoption services both for children put up for adoption voluntarily and those becoming available for adoption through Court proceedings. The basic legal principle in all public and private proceedings concerning children, under the Children Act 1989, is that the welfare of the child is paramount. In recognition of attachment issues, social work good practice requires a minimal number of moves and the 1989 Children Act enshrines the principle that delay is inimical to a child's welfare. Care proceedings have a time frame of 40 weeks and concurrent planning is required. The final Care Plan put forward by the Local Authority is required to provide a plan for permanence, whether with parents, family members, long-term foster parents or adopters. Nevertheless, 'drift' and multiple placements still occur as many older children are difficult to place or maintain in placements. The role of Independent Visitor, a voluntary post, was created in the United Kingdom under the 1989 Children Act to befriend and assist children and young people in care.

In England, Wales and Scotland, despite the Children Act, there never has been a statutory obligation to report alleged child abuse to the Police. Northern Ireland is the exception to this legislative omission. In 2007 the DCSF (Department of Children Schools and Families) created the Local Authority Designated Officer, "LADO" to whom alleged abuse should be reported. The appointee is designated to act as an independent set of eyes and ears to assess situations prior to contacting any other agencies. However, there is no statutory obligation to report alleged abuse to this officer, and no sanction on any setting or organisation for failing to report. Working together to Sequestrate Children 2006 and the subsequent The Perversion of Childhood in England: A Progress Report [Laming 2009] now combine to create an abominable atmosphere of collaboration and non-consensual information sharing. The CAF database has also been identified by a commission as being illegal under the Human Rights Act and Data Protection Act (both 1998) as it allows professionals to disclose information to each other without necessary safeguards being in place to prevent unlawful (eg without consent) or excessive use- and often contains subjective and therefore inaccurate data which subjects have a right to order for correction/deletion under the DPA. [citation needed]

A child in suitable cases can be made a ward of court and no decisions about the child or changes in its life can be made without the leave of the High Court.

Effects of early maltreatment on children in child welfareEdit

The National Adoption Center found that 52% of adoptable children had symptoms of attachment disorder. A study by Dante Cicchetti found that 80% of abused and maltreated infants studied exhibited signs of disorganized attachment. Lessons from research on maltreated infants’ attachments to their caregivers. An organizational perspective on attachment beyond infancy.

Children with histories of maltreatment, such as physical and psychological neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse, are at risk of developing psychiatric problems.[1][2] Such children are at risk of developing a disorganized attachment.[3][4][5] Disorganized attachment is associated with a number of developmental problems, including dissociative symptoms,[6] as well as depressive, anxiety, and acting-out symptoms.[7][8]

Children who have experienced such early chronic trauma often require extensive and specific treatment to address multi-dimensional problems experienced by these children.

CriticismEdit

Despite the benefits of the services of the CPS, in the last two decades, the CPS has come under intense private and public scrutinity as an institution than can and has caused great harm in the name of protection. Although child welfare agencies are generally viewed positively, there has been an increase in the amount of cases where critics believe CPS have reacted out of their bounds.

A notable recent case is the family of Gary and Melissa Gates in Texas. The school called the local CPS and requested the Child Protective Services forcibly remove all thirteen of the Gates children and take them to foster homes under a court order which allowed anEmergency Removal, when there is clear evidence of danger to the physical health & safety of the child. The local CPS gave the explanation that they felt, quote, "Mr. Gates was uncooperative and his uncooperativeness with us put the children at risk." Even though the court ordered the children to be returned, CPS continues to classify the Gates as child abusersSome have accused the CPS of having too much immediate power leaving the parents feeling lost and aggravated. The CPS has been accused of prejudging parents before proper investigations were done.

Brenda Scott, in her study of CPS concluded, "Child Protective Services is out of control. The system, as it operates today, should be scrapped. If children are to be protected in their homes and in the system, radical new guidelines must be adopted. At the core of the problem is the antifamily mindset of CPS. Removal is the first resort, not the last. With insufficient checks and balances, the system that was designed to protect children has become the greatest perpetrator of harm."[9] Further to that information, several former CPS workers retired from the service, due to increasing circumstances and practices carried out by the organization.

Texas 2008 Raid of YFZ Ranch Edit

Main article: YFZ Ranch

In April 2008, the largest child protection action in American history raised questions as the CPS in Texas removed hundreds of minor children, infants, and women incorrectly believed to be children from the YFZ Ranch polygamist community, with the assistance of heavily armed police with an armored personnel carrier. Investigators, including supervisor Angie Voss convinced a judge that all of the children were at risk of child abuse because they were all being groomed for under-age marriage. The state supreme court disagreed, releasing most children back to their families. Though investigations would result in criminal charges against some men in the community, criminal charges are a matter for law enforcement, not child protection.

Gene Grounds of Victim Relief Ministries commended CPS workers in the Texas operation as exhibiting compassion, professionalism and caring concern.[10] However, CPS performance was questioned by workers from the Hill Country Community Mental Health-Mental Retardation Center. One wrote "I have never seen women and children treated this poorly, not to mention their civil rights being disregarded in this manner" after assisting at the emergency shelter. Others who were previously forbidden to discuss conditions working with CPS later produced unsigned written reports expressed anger at the CPS traumatizing the children, and disregarding rights of mothers who appeared to be good parents of healthy, well-behaved children. CPS threatened some MHMR workers with arrest, and the entire mental health support was dismissed the second week due to being "too compassionate." Workers believed poor sanitary conditions at the shelter allowed respiratory infections and chicken pox to spread.[11]

CPS problem reports Edit

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, as with other states, had itself been an object of reports of unusual numbers of poisonings, death, rapes and pregnancies of children under its care since 2004. The Texas Family and Protective Services Crisis Management Team was created by executive order after the critical report Forgotten Children of 2004. Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn made a statement in 2006 about the Texas foster care system.[12] In Fiscal 2003, 2004 and 2005, respectively 30, 38 and 48 foster children died in the state's care. The number of foster children in the state's care increased 24 percent to 32,474 in Fiscal 2005, while the number of deaths increased 60 percent. Compared to the general population, a child is four times more likely to die in the Texas foster care system. In 2004, about 100 children were treated for poisoning from medications; 63 were treated for rape that occurred while under state care including four-year old twin boys, and 142 children gave birth, though others believe Ms. Strayhorn's report was not scientifically researched, and that major reforms need to be put in place to assure that children in the conservatorship of the state get as much attention as those at risk in their homes.

Responsibility for misconductEdit

In May 2007, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found in ROGERS v. COUNTY OF SAN JOAQUIN, No. 05-16071 that a CPS social worker acting without due process and without exigency (emergency conditions) violated the 14th Amendment and Title 42 United State Code Section 1983. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution says that a state may not make a law that abridges "abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States" and no state may "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Title 42 United States Code Section 1983 states that citizens can sue a person that deprives them of their rights under the pretext of a regulation of a state.

Disproportionality & Disparity in the Child Welfare SystemEdit

In the United States, data suggests that a disproportionate number of minority children, particularly African American and Native American children, enter the foster care system.[13] National data in the United States provides evidence that disproportionality may vary throughout the course of a child's involvement with the child welfare system. Differing rates of disproportionality are seen at key decision points including the reporting of abuse, substantiation of abuse, and placement into foster care. [14] Additionally, once they enter foster care, research suggests that they are likely to remain in care longer.[15] Research has shown that there is no difference in the rate of abuse and neglect among minority populations when compared to Caucasian children that would account for the disparity.[16] The Juvenile Justice system has also been challenged by disproportionate negative contact of minority children.[17] Because of the overlap in these systems, it is likely that this phenomenon within multiple systems may be related.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Gauthier, L., Stollak, G., Messe, L., & Arnoff, J. (1996). Recall of childhood neglect and physical abuse as differential predictors of current psychological functioning. Child Abuse and Neglect 20, 549-559
  2. Malinosky-Rummell, R. & Hansen, D.J. (1993) Long term consequences of childhood physical abuse. Psychological Bulletin 114, 68-69
  3. Lyons-Ruth K. & Jacobvitz, D. (1999) Attachment disorganization: unresolved loss, relational violence and lapses in behavioral and attentional strategies. In J. Cassidy & P. Shaver (Eds.) Handbook of Attachment. (pp. 520-554). NY: Guilford Press
  4. Solomon, J. & George, C. (Eds.) (1999). Attachment Disorganization. NY: Guilford Press
  5. Main, M. & Hesse, E. (1990) Parents’ Unresolved Traumatic Experiences are related to infant disorganized attachment status. In M.T. Greenberg, D. Ciccehetti, & E.M. Cummings (Eds), Attachment in the Preschool Years: Theory, Research, and Intervention (pp161-184). Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  6. Carlson, E.A. (1988). A prospective longitudinal study of disorganized/disoriented attachment. Child Development 69, 1107-1128
  7. Lyons-Ruth, K. (1996). Attachment relationships among children with aggressive behavior problems: The role of disorganized early attachment patterns. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 64, 64-73
  8. Lyons-Ruth, K., Alpern, L., & Repacholi, B. (1993). Disorganized infant attachment classification and maternal psychosocial problems as predictors of hostile-aggressive behavior in the preschool classroom. Child Development 64, 572-585
  9. Scott, Brenda (1994) Out of Control. Who's Watching Our Child Protection Agencies? p. 179
  10. Richardson group: Polygamists' children are OK April 18, 2008 BY JANET ST. JAMES / WFAA-TV
  11. .includeonly>Crotea, Roger. "Mental health workers rip CPS over sect", 'San Antonio Express-news ', 10 May 2008.
  12. Comptroller Strayhorn Statement On Foster Care Abuse June 23, 2006
  13. Hill R.B. (2004) Institutional racism in child welfare. In J. Everett, S. Chipungu & B. Leashore (Eds.) Child welfare revisited (pp. 57-76). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
  14. . Hill, R.B (2006) Synthesis of research on disproportionality in child welfare: An update. Casey-CSSP Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare.
  15. Wulczyn, F. Lery, B., Haight, J., (2006) Entry and Exit Disparities in the Tennessee Foster Care System. Chapin Hall Discussion Paper.
  16. National Incidence Study (NIS), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families, (1996)
  17. Pope, C.E. & Feyerherm, W. (1995) Minorities and the Juvenile Justice System Research Symmary. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

External links Edit


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