On Child Protective Services, Part 3: The Real Abusers

One of the things my wife and I did immediately after our children were taken from us by LA County Child Protective Services (aside from getting lawyers) was begin to comply with any potential requirements they might make of us. We didn’t want an unjumped-through hoop to hold up the speedy return of our children. So, on the recommendation of our lawyers based on intimations of the Commissioner (pseudo-judge) based on CPS precedent, I went to anger management classes, my wife and I got individual therapy from certified counselors,  and my wife and I attended parenting classes together.

The woman who taught our parenting class had once been a case worker for California DCFS. After just the first visit with us, she recognized that a mistake had been made and she went about trying to help us get everything in order to get our kids back. We had many conversations with her about the effectiveness of CPS in general.

One time, I asked her quite innocently, “In what percentage of the cases when children are taken into custody by CPS do you think the kids are better off in custody than they would have been if they had stayed with their parents?”

She thought for a second, then replied, “Oh. It’s probably about half and half. Fifty percent.”

She saw the very shocked look on my face. She apparently didn’t realize what she had just said.

“So, what you’re saying is that, if CPS didn’t exist at all, it would make no difference. It would all be a wash. It’s a flip of a coin whether kids will be better or worse off?”

Her face wrinkled up, “I hadn’t really thought about it like that.”

I continued, “It would actually be better if CPS didn’t exist. At least then they wouldn’t be taking taxpayer dollars to make mistakes that can’t be remedied.”

CPS has been criticized numerous times for putting children into the custody of known abusers, and they regularly drop the ball concerning kids who are in real danger. In fact, while we were waiting to get our kids back, a four-year-old child was decapitated by his mother in LA county even after a preschool principal had called DCFS about the family’s situation. A case worker had come to the psychotic woman’s home and cleared it as a safe place for the child, though family members were urging swift action to protect the child’s life. A few months later, there was nothing CPS could do to fix its mistake. Similar stuff happened a few times while we were there. We were battling to get our kids back into our loving home while other kids were being killed and beaten under CPS’s puzzlingly inconsistent watch.

The statistics are actually appalling. The Connecticut DCF Watch pulled numbers from the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, and let’s just say that our counselor’s estimate of “fifty percent” was optimistic. Apparently, out of every 100,000 children in the United States per year, only 59 are abused in the custody of their parents, whereas 160 are abused in the custody of Child Protective Services. Out of 100,000, 6.4 die of maltreatment or neglect in the custody of CPS. One-point-nine die in the custody of their parents.

Child abuse is a terrible thing. But the problem is that the agency we have created to protect children from child abuse is a more egregious perpetrator of abuse than even bad parents. And while they take your money to continue their abusive policies, they are constantly violating parental and constitutional rights along the way. They don’t stop at abusing children. They’re abusing parents as well. And no one can do anything about it because, of course, it’s for the children.

If we really cared about the children, we would turn cases of domestic violence over to the people we already pay to deal with crime: the police. CPS really isn’t necessary. The police should arrest people who are guilty of breaking the state laws concerning child abuse, and these people should be charged with crimes and dealt with in the criminal justice system, not be subjected to the arbitrary bureacracy of rogue executors.

It’s hard to understand how an organization which purports to protect children can be doing such a horrible job of it: taking kids who are in perfectly good homes already and ignoring kids who are in imminent danger. Is there some explanation or pattern for their actions? I think so, and it boils down to basically one thing: money. More on that next time.