NOTE: After Mississippi Child Protection Services unjustly separated Nathan Clark (a pseudonym) from one of his young children for more than a year, he and his wife prevailed in a suit that went to the Miss. Supreme Court; the judge scathed the state for its treatment of the Clarks. Nathan Clark, a journalist, has since spent much time researching what can sometimes happen to very good parents when the wrong social workers are at the rein What follows are his sometimes raw, but carefully considered, conclusions.
The “justice system” has become increasingly unjust when child abuse is suspected. A state-sanctioned witch-hunt is in full force and parents who are unaware of this are increasingly vulnerable.
The government agency Child Protection Services exists, in theory, to protect children from abuse, but this is in some cases a smokescreen. Like so many government entities, money often is its driving factor. The foster care system too often isn't fundamentally about providing housing for children without families; it is an industry preoccupied with money.
Most people do not know that CPS social workers actually have quotas. Based on the population of a city, they are expected to place a proportional number of children in foster care per year. Grant money is contingent on filling that number. If children are returned to their parents from foster care, the agency loses grant money.
Social workers, therefore, are often far from being “objective” investigators of suspected child abuse. They have a vested interest in separating families. It’s not hard to see what kind of nightmare this produces. It’s tantamount to having a fox guard the chickens at night.
Nancy Schaeffer, a Georgia senator who a decade ago helped publicize the little-known quota system, likened CPS to Gestapo, calling their work “legalized kidnapping”.
Think the “war on parents” is a crazy conspiracy theory? Consider the following true stories, keeping in mind these are not isolated incidents; rather they are indicative of a horrific, nationwide trend.
• An 11-year-old in Florida was taken away from his home by CPS. His parents’ crime? They were stuck in traffic, meaning they weren’t home as soon as the school bus dropped him off, so their son hung outside in the driveway shooting basketball for an hour and a half. A nosy neighbor reported this “neglect” and the family was destroyed as a result.
• A newborn in Michigan was taken away from her parents, who were falsely accused by the hospital of causing their daughter to have “shaken baby syndrome”. Though no evidence existed to incriminate the parents, the father was convicted and sentenced to prison.
• A girl was molested by her uncle. The girl’s mother, when she became aware of it, reported this to CPS. The result? Though the mother was not guilty of any wrongdoing, nor was she even accused of any wrongdoing—to the contrary, she was the one reporting the wrongdoing on her daughter’s behalf—the girl was taken away from her mother by CPS.
• A parent at a YMCA kissed his child on the lips (a demonstration of affection that, for many families, is perfectly normal and not remotely sexual in nature). Nevertheless, this parent was reported to CPS.
• A family with seven children was reported to CPS and lost custody of all of them. Their crime? The children were seen by neighbors briefly playing in the snow without shoes on.
• A girl in central Mississippi came to school on a cold winter day without a coat on. The result? The school reported the parents to CPS and the child was taken away from the home.
• A Florida woman whose newborn twins lost weight after birth was scheduled for a two week follow up to monitor the children’s weight gain, after supplementing breast milk with formula. The woman missed the appointment, was reported to CPS by the doctor, and the babies were taken away as a result.
I could cite dozens of other sickeningly similar stories. In each story, all of the credibility is given to the “mandatory reporter” who called CPS; those who stand falsely accused have little recourse. This demonstrates a sickening predisposition on the part of CPS to bludgeon families--all in the hypocritical name of “protecting” them. To put it bluntly, we live in an age when it is not safe to be a parent.
Thankfully, CPS's corruption is being increasingly reported in the media. Two springs ago, the Clarion-Ledger reported that the sheriff in Hancock County on the Mississippi Coast was investigating CPS after allegations that social workers, in an effort to take children into custody without the necessary paperwork, were falsifying and altering paperwork parents had filled out. Last summer, News Mississippi reported that over the last five years there has been a 150% increase in the number of children taken into custody in Hancock County.
Think the U.S. Constitution would protect parents from such trampling? It would protect them if the Bill of Rights was followed in any meaningful way. One is reminded of what Jay Leno quipped when referring to budding democracies in the Middle East writing constitutions for themselves: “They can have ours; we’re not using it anyway.”
If a parent is falsely accused of criminal child abuse, the natural assumption—given the way the U.S. Constitution is written—would be that the parent would not be punished unless the allegation is proven “beyond a reasonable doubt."
Our legal system is based upon the premise of “innocent until proven guilty," right? Well, sort of. Accused parents are not presumed innocent. Before an accused parent’s case even gets to a Grand Jury to decide whether to indict or to dismiss, the case first goes before a non-criminal “youth court."
Most people understandably assume that “youth courts” are where juvenile delinquents go for trials. Unbeknownst to many, it is also where accused parents go for judges to decide whether or not they should lose custody of their child.
Unlike criminal courts, in youth courts the standard is not “beyond a reasonable doubt”; rather the standard is “preponderance of evidence," which simply means “more likely that not.” The question isn’t whether there is a 99% chance the crime was committed; the question is simply whether there is a 51% chance. If you’re a falsely accused parent, a youth court judge can speculate that there’s a 51% chance you did something wrong, and take your child away, placing him or her in foster care.
All across Mississippi there are non-criminals who nevertheless are being subjected to the “cruel and unusual punishment” of losing their children. In many counties across America, accused parents do not even currently have the right to a court-appointed attorney in youth court.
Over the past three decades, youth courts in Mississippi have largely ignored the Mississippi Rules of Evidence, using inadmissible hearsay in trials. Only 51% evidence needed and that 51% can be uncorroborated hearsay. If this sounds like a system that is hopelessly rigged against parents, you’re beginning to understand.
COMING SOON: PART 2 The War on Parents: How Should the Church Respond?