March 10, 2008What are we doing to our children? Typically I jump from subject to subject, circling the tapestry attempting to see the bigger picture, but a few weeks ago I wrote an article, Is Ritual Child Abuse Just a Hoax?, and naively, I have been surprised by some of the responses it has generated. The idea that adults could join together to harm children and use them solely as objects is something most do not wish to even consider. And I understand that the words ritual abuse are startling to our senses, so I began following just the threads of child abuse and have been surprised at how systematic it is in our culture.
As I sought to uncover the long arms of childhood victimization, I noticed a consistent disregard for children and a tendency to treat them more as objects, than humans, not just in the sordid world of human trafficking, but throughout institutions that house troubled, abused or unruly children. In the news articles I´m about to share, there were often repeated complaints by children that were ignored, shuffled under and quickly forgotten, while the abuses continued on, unchecked. Our children have become prey for the profiteers, not just the pedophiles and child pornographers, but businesses, corporations and social agencies designed to "help" kids.
In 2002, a child abuse scandal rocked Portugal and has yet to be resolved as 10 people were indicted on charges of sexually abusing minors, rape and organizing a pedophile ring. The children abused were housed in state run homes and orphanages and those indicted included a famous media personality, a former employment minister and a former South African ambassador. Guardian
In Britain, officials are excavating a basement under a former care home, which is now a youth hostel, seeking as many as 7 bodies of children. Telegraph The remains of one skeleton has been found and detectives believe they are looking at one of the worst child abuse scandals ever at a British institution. A covert investigation began in 2006 when former residents contacted police and complained of the abuse they suffered as children in Haut de la Garenne (which translates into rabbit warren) care home. Deputy Chief Officer Lenny Harper said the allegations range from "from pretty severe physical and mental abuse right through to the most serious sexual crimes that you can imagine." BBC News
In 2006, a sex scandal hit the Texas Youth Commission, which houses troubled youth, aged 10 to 21, across the state. Yet again, complaints were made for years by both the staff and the inmates, but the complaints were not investigated and the alleged perpetrators were promoted. In 2005, the Texas Rangers began looking into the allegations, but it was still 2 years before the case received any national attention. Since 2000, 90 employees and contractors at TYC facilities have been disciplined or fired for sexual misconduct with inmates. Dallas Morning News
In 2004, it came to light that children residing in privately owned psychiatric centers in Ohio suffered molestation by workers, broken bones, overcrowded and filthy conditions, were denied food and given alcohol and drugs. The children involved were abuse victims, anorexic girls, teen sex offenders and suicidal kids and were considered mentally ill. Parents complained of overuse of drugs like Haldol and Thorazine and children as young as eight were on as many as 6 psychotropic drugs at one time, most not approved for children. At one center six workers were indicted on 110 charges ranging from corruption of a minor to rape. Cincinnati Enquirer
These cases are really just the tip of the iceberg, the ones that have eventually been brought into light, and we would be fooling ourselves to think these are isolated events. In researching these articles I´ve pondered how someone could derive pleasure or accept money for hurting a child and I´ve been startled by the darkness that resides in certain human beings. It seems children have just become numbers on a graph, easily manipulated to reap in more profits and housing children has become a huge money making endeavor.
In 1997, the Clinton administration passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act and it was marketed as a feel good solution to limit the time children spent in foster care. Department of Health and Human Services Previous to this legislation the focus was on "reasonable attempts" to unite children with their biological families, but with the introduction of ASFA, we in America, understood that the priority had changed to promoting the welfare of the children. What most didn´t understand was that with the new legislation, states would receive big bonuses for adopting out children. And parents would be given only 15 months, before their children are adopted out to strangers, to prove to the court (not a jury, but a judge) that they deserve to raise their own kids.
In the new and improved system of protecting our children, profits increased dramatically and lots of folks began making money. The amount of money at the original signing of this law was $20 million in bonuses to the state for adoption of foster-care children, $5 million for health care of adopted kids with special needs, $11 million in subsidies for special-needs children and the family-preservation program was reauthorized with an additional $65 million and added adoption services to its mandate. About
So once "protective" services are involved the money making clock starts ticking and then the priority is not in uniting families, there is no bonus for that, but in making sure those children get through the system quickly and get placed into new families. Now if these children all came from terribly abusive families, I would agree that the system works, but it doesn´t take long on the Internet to find out how families and children are suffering over this law. We must remember this is a business and businesses don´t make money without a product and in this case, the product is children. Massachusetts News
In 2001, there were over half a million children in foster care and in the 1990s, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services confirmed that they removed approximately 1000 kids a month from their homes. According to Denise Kane, Inspector General of the Illinois DCFS, "The majority of parents who come before our court love their children and their children look to them with love and seek the attention and nurturing of their parents."
In 1995, in Los Angeles County, California, 26,947 children entered foster care. Testifying before a Congressional subcommittee hearing in 1993, Department Head Peter Digre admitted to legislators that half of the children in the system were there due to poverty, not abuse or neglect. Trevor Grant, former Director of Social Services of the New York City Child Welfare Administration, has said that close to 85% of cases labeled as neglect are actually poverty cases.Lifting The Veil
And once many of these kids are taken away from their homes and placed into state care, their chances of abuse increase. During a two-year period, one foster child died every 7 and ½ weeks in the state of Arizona. In a one-year period at least 8 children died in foster care in Massachusetts. And in New York, a 7-year-old girl was raped repeatedly in institutional care, yet the caseworker deemed the allegations unfounded, despite the testimony of credible witnesses, including staff members. Institute for Psychological Therapies
According to Massachusetts Attorney Gregory A. Hession, once protective services knock on your door, the nightmare begins and he has created a website to assist parents with dealing with what he describes as the illegal kidnapping of children. Included on his site is a list of 17 dirty tricks protection services use to remove and keep children from their families. Dirty trick #3, "DSS agents will abuse and traumatize your children themselves." He goes on to describe the trauma a child feels being pulled from a parent´s arms, taken away and grilled over and over about their home life by strangers. Dirty trick #10, "If DSS takes your children, they will keep them a year, and try to adopt them out - They earn up to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year per child taken, and keep a lot of cronies in work." Mr. Hession explains this period of captivity as a lease, followed by the sale (adoption) after 15 months and that a new federal law has been put into place establishing adoption quotas for each state. A couple other tricks he mentions are refusing to place children with relatives and making parents wait a full year before allowing their case to be heard by a judge. Mass Outrage
The conspiracy theorists tell us that powers greater than us are seeking to destroy the family and it appears, yet again, they are correct. Dr. Mary Jo Bane, Clinton's Assistant Secretary of Administration for Children and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services, has been quoted as having said, "If we want to talk about equality of opportunity for children, then the fact that children are raised in families means there's no equality . . . In order to raise children with equality, we must take them away from families and communally raise them." With very little effort on the Internet one can find stories of broken and exhausted parents who have nearly lost hope of seeing their children again for offenses like refusing to put a child on Ritalin or having a "messy" home or experiencing stress in a family or typical childhood accidents that led to ER visits. And once protective services have you in their sight, tighten your seat belt; it´s going to be a bumpy ride.
So it seems we have created a system in our country that takes children from homes, abuse or not, substantiated or not and places them in government subsidized homes and institutions under the guise of protection. There they keep them for a year with very limited contact with their families, not just the alleged offenders, but siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles. And while they are held in state "protection" their chances of abuse, physical, sexual, mental and emotional increases by about 25 percent according to statistics of states that have reported. And while these children are held, lots of people are making money, lawyers, court personnel, court investigators, evaluators and guardians, counselors, therapists, psychologists, residential facilities, foster parents, adoptive parents and believe it or not, the list continues.
We hear a lot in the media of the deaths of children not under state protection. We hear about the awful parents who injure or kill and we thank God for the protection services, but we rarely hear of the tragedies that happen under state care. Part of the problem lies in confidentiality laws and according to former Juvenile Court Justice, Judy Sheindlin (yes, Judge Judy), "The only people being protected here are caseworkers and other officials, who regularly hide behind a wall of secrecy." The system is based on money, big money and steady employment for many people, so the broken bones, rapes and deaths of the kids often go unheard.
Now before my email box fills with folks telling me about wonderful foster parents and social workers, let me clarify, I do not believe that all are bad, I know there are good ones, but many of those end up leaving the system, exhausted, disillusioned and frustrated. I also understand that some children are being seriously abused and need to be removed from abusive parents. What I am suggesting, however, is that the system is flawed and taking time to check the links I have provided, it´s clear that many who work in the system agree and feel it needs to be reformed, at least and at most, torn down and rebuilt.
Children are not products and should not be bought, sold and managed like inanimate objects. And really, when we think about the numbers and consider the abuses, what are we doing to the next generations? How are these kids supposed to move into the world and become high achievers? How will these children adjust to the adult world without a cloud of victim hood perpetually following them? Thankfully, some will survive and shine in life, but that is only due to the amazing power of the human spirit. Over and over through researching this subject I saw children left in abusive parental homes while under state protection and others taken from families and moved into abusive government subsidized homes, so I´m asking, what are we doing to our children?