NOTE: Nathan Clark (a pseudonym to protect him) was falsely accused by Mississippi’s Child Protective Services of child abuse. He was separated from one of his young children for more than a year, but he and his wife prevailed at the state Supreme Court level. Tragically, the whole nightmare started when a church childcare worker coldly and haphazardly interpreted one playful sentence made to another child as reason to turn Clark over to the government. No call to the parents. No effort to discern the child’s naive comment. Sadly, the church was complicit in the pain of the Clark parents and their child.
As mentioned in PART ONE of this series, social workers are like police officers who scurry monthly to give a quota of tickets. Child Protective Agency (CPS) social workers actually have quotas to fill. If they do not place the "quota" of children in foster care per year, they lose grant money. No one believes real child abuse ought to be ignored. No one.
But the “If you see something, say something” mandatory reporting laws of CPS do not help children. Rather, they cause things that are not abuse to be routinely reported to a bureaucratic agency with a confirmatory bias, desperate to find abuse even when it doesn’t exist. Why? So they can place children in foster care and keep grant money.
In doing this, the government inflicts irreparable pain and abuse on a child ripped from parents. And it inflicts pain and abuse on the parents too. The government becomes the abuser.
But can a church—albeit inadvertently—aid and abet the government’s abuse?
You’d expect the church to be a true safe haven to your child. That simply—and sadly— just isn’t always the case. Instead, churches can be unsafe for vulnerable parents and their children.
It’s sad and frightening, but true: Churches too easily pass off “problems” to the government.
That was the case for my wife and me, whose child was ripped away without consulting us after our three-year-old made a silly unthinking comment. (After all, she was just three years old.) I spent a year without my child due to a church childcare’s bumbling, beastly and thoughtless action. She participated in a year’s worth of abuse of my child and the rest of my family.
Many churches—yes, churches—get caught up in the government’s heavy-handed pressure and hysteria. Can you imagine a church that would stop a key tenant of their faith like baptizing babies or praying for the sick babies because the government told them they must? But some church staffs, paranoid of government punishment, become all-too-willing “mandatory reporters,” trusting the government more than parents.
They wrongly believe that they’re doing a child a favor by reporting suspected abuse to CPS. Actually, these church childcares are trusting a profit-driven system to do what they often could—first consult parents for whom they have no prior reason to believe are at fault.
No one believes real child abuse should be ignored, but the “If you see something, say something” injunction basically throws one blanket over every child and parent using church childcare.
Things that are not abuse are routinely reported to an agency that is proven to have a confirmatory bias and to be desperate to find abuse even when it doesn’t exist. Why? Again, so they can rake in their grant money that often pays their salaries.
Church childcares sometimes try to plead ignorance of this. But they actually are adopting the same approach that CPS social workers did with my family—assuming a parent is guilty until proven innocent. This strikes against the core of the Bible’s injunction to address potentially damaging charges of guilt first with other fellow Christians.
Presuming guilt is not only un-Christian, but it is also blatantly unconstitutional. Suspecting a parent to be guilty until proven innocent flies in the face of our U.S. Constitution.
How about suspecting CPS’s impersonal government, profit-driven “child protection” model that should be suspected as guilty until proven otherwise? Our Bill of Rights focuses heavily on the rights of the falsely accused.
Churches, if they choose to craft “Child Protection” policies, must keep in mind the plight of the falsely accused.
I could never sign off on, or impose on anyone else the task of signing, any policy requiring reporting anything to CPS ever. I’ve seen innocent families almost destroyed thanks to the slander of “mandatory reporters.” My family lived out this nightmare.
CPS pushes church daycares to be “mandatory reporters.” In other words, government is saying, “You might have a higher code of addressing claims, but we are telling you to leave those matters to our social workers, or “youth court” judges.”
What? Really? And too many of our churches say, “Okay.”
I recently read a congregation’s “Child Protection” policy that emphasized it’s not in the church’s purview to know how substantial any given suspicion of abuse may be; reports should be made “just in case” because it’s the civil government’s job to decide.
That is precisely the problem—the civil government is too incompetent to do its job.
Some churches are reporting things to CPS because they believe that 1) unsubstantiated allegations will be quickly recognized and the innocent person will walk away unscathed, or that 2) CPS only takes children from their parents “as a last resort.”
False in both counts!
Church leaders, if your church has some kind of “Child Protection” policy or is considering drafting one, keep firmly fixed in your mind the reality of vulnerable falsely accused parents.
Church leaders, do not drafty a policy that treats a parent with a glib approach that basically says, “You may become collateral damage in our noble cause of ‘stamping out abuse’.”
Churches, don’t blithely relay reports to CPS using a “just in case” mindset and justification.
I found a church policy that said it’s better to report something that didn’t occur and be wrong than to fail to report real abuse. In other words, it’s better to cover our fannies.
To accuse an innocent person is a violation of the commandment, “You shall not bear false witness” (translation: “You shall not falsely accuse someone, especially without trying to get all of the facts”). In other words, you had better be dang sure about what you are doing before you level an accusation.
Church childcare workers, shouldn’t you at least give a parent a phone call or brief meeting before ramrodding their child into a deep-state system. If you don’t, you can count on this—the state won’t give the parents a careful benefit of a consultation. They totally slam the door on the accused parent—totally. They just rip the child away and ignore the pain on those children torn from loving parents who aren’t guilty.
It pains me to say this, but parents, you must be vigilant and discerning about whom you trust. Abraham Lincoln said, “Be courteous to all, intimate with few, and the let the few be tried.”
Parents, have you read your church childcare providers policy on “child protection?” Are you perhaps being overly trusting regarding your children’s caretakers? Even in your church?