I am a regular user of Facebook. I subscribe to many “anti-CPS” pages because I get news of stories happening to children all over the world. Inevitably many people on these pages are very angry, frightened and can only see their own cases. I can empathize with this, no parent should have to grieve for a living child.
But let’s be realistic, if you saw a child in danger, what would you do?
I’m reading a 350 page report on why Irish Police removed children and how most of those children ended up in State “Care”. Alcohol and drugs were a factor in many cases. Police or neighbours see infants and young children wandering the streets, neighbours hear a child crying next door and have seen their mother go out for the night and leave the child alone. Police get called to schools, hospitals and doctors offices because children show up with cuts or bruises. I don’t think any reasonable human being would have an issue with these children being removed. If you or I saw a child in danger we would act to protect the child too.
As I’ve said many times; “there is no more heroic act than to save a child”. This is instinctive in all people and even animals. Child Protection needs to exist, of that there is no doubt. My issues are with what happens these children once they are “protected”. Many people call for an end to CPS, but what are we going to replace it with? This is a complex issue but there are solutions I have suggested in the book.
There is an ever-increasing awareness that Child Protection is not working to the benefit of children. There may be some evil people out there working in CPS, but the vast majority are good people with the best intentions. The issue is that Best Intentions don’t translate into Best Outcomes for 80% of “Cared For” children.
I have no personal interest in this topic and no axe to grind, I want to see children being protected. Most people affected by CPS have a particular area that they focus on, Fathers Rights, Family Court Injustice, Parental Rights, Family Law Reform, Children’s Rights or Wrongly Accused Persons.
The simple reason we can’t reform the Child Protection System is because we cant work together.
Many people are working through their own grief and pain, and can’t see the benefit of working together. It’s a lot to ask a grieving parent, or a child grieving for their parent, to get behind Fathers Rights or Parental Alienation groups. Many social workers handle as many as 25 cases, some more urgent than others. When you see how many parents and children are affected by CPS, you can see that we outnumber the Child Protection Industrial Complex by a factor of at least 10 to 1.
I wrote a blog about how I attended a protest, and how we had a huge impact on the system. Regardless of how we work together, it’s important to realize that the system is not going to change overnight. It’s also important to see that a victory in Ireland can mean a similar victory in Australia, Norway or the USA. People in one jurisdiction forget about people suffering the same fate in other places. There are slight differences in the law and the Modus Operandi from one place to the next but the bottom line is the same for every child.
A few years ago I tried setting up an international charity to reform CPS. It would have operated in 4 countries to begin with. This would be a huge international lobby with many professionals on board. One webpage for every country and everyone working together. If there was a particular issue in Texas, they would have the support of Canada, USA, United Kingdom and Ireland. There is strength in numbers and a lobby with many people behind it, working in a very structured and professional way, would have a huge influence.
I had people on board in 4 countries, I had funding, I had the bureaucracy organized, but I couldn’t get key people working together. Whether it was because of ego’s or people promoting their own agendas doesn’t matter, it failed. You can see this failure yourself on Facebook, search CPS and you will find thousands of pages with millions of people on their own page, with their own agendas, but accomplishing nothing positive. People in pain promoting their own cases and looking for help, but not finding it. Just imagine if there was only one page for everyone in the world affected by this?
In the end I just decided to write the book as a way of educating people. I’m still heavily involved in individual cases but I have come to realize that the way forward is not to criticize the system, but to build a better one. I now see more value in promoting Parental Alienation Laws in every country, because such laws would prevent social workers alienating children from their parents and families. There is little point in engaging in individual cases because my colleagues and I have had a far more positive impact by educating professionals. I have refused invitations to go on radio or attend conferences, which often turn into “Bitch Sessions” where people complain, but accomplish nothing positive.
My colleagues and I have written academic papers and engaged in debate with people who have to the power to change the system. I could spend hundreds of hours attending a protest and feel good for participating, but accomplish nothing. I have already seen positive results from courts where judges have quoted my colleagues almost verbatim. If you put forward a well-reasoned question or argument, people will engage with you. It’s futile on the internet to argue with someone with fixed views on a topic, but you should argue anyway, because people who haven’t made up their minds will also be reading it and you have an opportunity to educate.
I don’t have answers or solutions to all the problems I see, I am of the opinion that if everyone worked together, we could dramatically change Child Protection to the point that children would be properly protected. In the absence of a solution to get people working together, I will continue what I’m doing.
If anyone has a better solution, now would be a good time to express it. A house divided by itself cannot stand.