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Dedicated to all the suffering parents whose children were ‘legally kidnapped’ by an unjust and totalitarian government.
July 30, 2018 „Information Clearing House“ – A spate of ‘legalized kidnappings’ is ongoing throughout the United States. The perpetrators, however, are not criminals per se, they are agents of the government. These kidnappers operate under the banner of ‘Child Protective Services.’ Depending on the state, the banner may be ‘Public Social Services,’ ‘Family & Protective Services,’ ‘Department of Social Services,’ ‘Children’s Protective Services,’ or ‘Department of Family and Children Services.’ As for the term ‘legalized kidnappings,’ it is not of original coinage: a grassroots movement named “Stop Child Protective Services from Legally Kidnapping Children” has sprouted up in Minnesota. As one may expect, outrage, fear, and despair are brewing among parents whose children have been legally kidnapped.
In Euripides’s tragedy The Heracleidae, one reads of the hubristic agent, Copreus, of a tyrannical state, Argos, attempting to kidnap persecuted children from their natural guardian, Iolaus. (These are the children of the mythical hero Heracles.) He asserts a purported duty cum right to kidnap these children, explaining, “It was King Eurystheus of Argos and Mycenae who ordered me to come here and bring these back,” mirroring what many legalized kidnappers tell parents: “It was my manager, the agency director, who told me to . . . .” Copreus wants “to take back what is ours.” and when he is thwarted in his lawless conduct, he threatens: “I go; for ’tis feeble fighting with a single arm – but I will come again, bringing hither a host of Argive troops, spearmen clad in bronze.” Thwart a legalized kidnapper and he or she too will come again, bringing thither heavily-armed sheriffs deputies and police teams at his or her back.
This is the terrifying predicament far too many American parents have faced. And do face. And will face.
Since Ancient History, children have been the most vulnerable and exploited class or demographic within the Human family. From those Ancient Times up to and including the Renaissance in Europe, children have been killed, abandoned, raped, sold, bartered, exploited for manual labour, trafficked for sex, killed as ‘sacrifices,’ and more, and all this not only as isolated or case-specific transgressions, but, even within the framework of socio-cultural customs and folkways. In a number of underdeveloped (and less-civilized) countries, the lot of children is not very different from what it was in Mediaeval Europe. In view of the vulnerability of children, Child Protective Services theoretically serve a necessary, perhaps even a critical, purpose.At the same time, principles and methods of, and lessons learnt from, Community Policing and non-adversarial intervention should be incorporated into policy and procedure;
Removed children should be monitored in their new homes or other abodes for emotional and psychological well-being, and feedback loops should be put in place;
The system should further be designed to recognize and rectify any mistake;
The foster care racket should be done away with for good.
Finally, one of the most pressing problems surrounding removal of children from parental custody is that the wealthier the parents, the better the lawyers they can retain while poor parents usually have to deal with Child Protective Services and Family Court judges themselves, or, at best, using the services of over-burdened public defenders, with predictable results. Thus, wealthy parents’ top-notch legal representation usually wins the day, even through sophistry, crookery, and quid pro quo arrangements with judges, while parents who cannot afford good lawyers all-too-often pay a devastating price that no loving parent should have to pay.
Yet even this built-in systemic defect can be detected. The new system would require that for each accused parent(s) against whom any Child Protective Services complaint has been brought, its assets, annual income, mean income of locality, and median income of locality be plotted on a decile graph for that state. On an annual basis, plot the outcomes of every child abuse or maltreatment complaint, from no grounds found to child removed and placed into adoption, also on the same plane, using colour coding to identify outcomes. There should be no correlation – at least no statistically significant correlation – between the socio-economic statuses of accused parents and the outcomes of child-related complaints. That is, the two scatter-graphs’ plot-points should turn out to have no correlation with one another, and the outcomes’ plot-points should turn out to be randomly scattered across the deciles. Unless independent scientific research conclusively demonstrates a correlation between socio-economic status and child abuse and maltreatment (which it does not), a correlation between the socio-economic statuses of accused parents and the outcomes of child-related complaints would indicate that the system is malfunctioning, remains biased against the poor, remains rigged in favour of the rich, and that ‘money talks.’
As Iolaus – the guardian of the Heracleidae – implores the Athenians, he cries: “in the last extremity of woe that we have found friends and protectors here, the only champions of these children through all the length and breadth of this country.” Yet if intelligently-, precisely-, and sensitively-crafted rules, stipulations, and methods are enacted and instituted, then the resultant system would function as both ‘protector’ and ‘champion’ of children at risk . . . ‘protecting’ and ‘championing’ children from, both, parents and Child Protective Services themselves.
In the Balance—
Oddly enough, it is in those very countries where children are abused or maltreated, sometimes severely, that Child Protective Services do not exist: the child is left to fend for himself/herself. He/she may keep trying to live with his/her grandparents, threaten to or attempt to run away from home, actually run away from home, or, in the most tragic cases, take his/her own life. Conversely, it is in First World countries where genuine abuse or maltreatment are relatively uncommon and children are for the most part well cared-for that Child Protective Services officers, case-workers, and their support systems are out of control.
That said, child abuse and maltreatment does occur and a private person may even chance upon an ostensible parent clearly abusing a child, with the child exhibiting fear or terror. In such an event, it would be right-minded of the observer to note down identifying characteristics such as a vehicle tag number or video-record the abuse or maltreatment discreetly, and report the incident to the authorities. Such conduct cannot be considered ‘snitching;’ rather, it is a civic obligation.
Perhaps the state of affairs in the former set of countries is not as worrying and unsettling as in the second set: for local governments and citizens groups can always – hopefully with all due care and caution – found and charter Child Protective Services – there is always hope. But in the second set of countries, where the System itself is corrupt and Child Protective Services itself causes psychological harm and injury, often lifelong, to children, hope is thin on the ground. It is easy to get into a maze where monsters dwell; not so easy to get out of it.
Less-advanced countries whose societies may be considering the establishment of Child Protective Services would do well to take salutary and preceptive lessons from the realities in the United States. Or, for that matter, from the Hellenes: “Who can judge or choose the merits of a case before one hears clearly both sides of it?,” which was what the Chorus opined when Copreus tried to kidnap the Heracleidae, imparting a check and balance against a state’s hostile agent.
Then again, depending on the country and the sense of pride and liberty of its people, some or another enraged parent may well end up echoing the words – albeit spoken in a case of mistaken identity – of Alcmene, the Heracleidae’s redoubtable grandmother: “I’ll fight kidnappers till my last breath . . . . If you so much as lay a hand upon these children, then you’ll have the glory of attacking me first.”
In the U.S. and several other Western countries, as it is, the State through public schools and its various agencies and commissions has usurped the rightful role of parents as the primary rearers of their children and the moulders of their morals. Now, parents are being robbed of even the joy and companionship of their own children as legalized kidnappings proceed apace and spiral out of control.
After so many legalized kidnappings of children from good, honest, and loving parents, sooner or later some parent who is at the end of his or her tether will, channelling Patrick Henry, cry, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!” pick up a shotgun, and blast away at the state’s legalized kidnappers. Considering the seething fury that is bubbling in small-town America against a totalitarian government’s tyrannical agents, it is only a matter of time before the legalized kidnappers try to kidnap the wrong child from the wrong parent.
As for The Heracleidae, it ends in the defeat of the Argive legalized kidnappers – and climaxes with the execution of the Eurystheus who was the motive force behind, among other misdeeds, the attempted kidnappings of the Heracleidae. Alcmene rages: “Now, you must die a miserable death but even that will be too good for you: because after all the dreadful deeds you have performed you ought not to die only a single death . . . . Go on, take him away! Kill him! Kill him and then throw him to the dogs!”
That which plays out in ancient Attic fiction, in view of undeniable and rapidly-deteriorating realities, could plausibly play out as contemporary American fact.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.
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