Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.
Halloween for Ayn
October 31, 2013 permalink
Almost a year ago British Columbia MCFD averted court action by announcing plans to return Ayn Van Dyk to her home. Today the family is still waiting for the reunification process to begin.
A SCARY STORY
The story began on June 16, 2011 when Ayn van Dyk was 11 years old. Since then thousands around the world have waited with hope and prayers that we would hear the happy ending we long for her family to enjoy!
For anyone unfamiliar with this story I would suggest you read Ayn's dad, Derek Hoare's account from the beginning until Jan 23, 2012 http://freedomforayn.blogspot.ca/2012/04/from-beginning-of-story.html
We have heard little from Derek since then as he struggles to deal with grief of this great loss for his family while caring for his two sons.
Twelve months later on Dec 4, 2012 just prior to long awaited court dates the Ministry of Child and Family Development, British Columbia, Canada along with Ayn's parents Amie van Dyk and Derek Hoare announced that Ayn would be going home to be with her family after she had been held unjustly in captivity for 536 days. There had never been any grounds to question their parenting skills, Ayn never needed their protection.
On Dec 7, 2012 Derek announced that an agreement was signed with MCFD on Dec 4 - Ayn would be coming home!
We rejoiced and we waited.............................
On July 5, 2013 Amie van Dyk told us, "Today the Ministry presented another gradual return plan. This one is 13 weeks in length." So by the end of September, 2013 this family would finally be reunited. Since the waiting had already been 107 weeks, 13 more could be tolerated, knowing Ayn would be spending time with both her parents to prepare for her move home. Strange that she needed no preparation when she was taken on June 16, 2011 but now there would be a 13 week transition. BUT she was coming home.......................
As I write today, Oct 31, 2013, Halloween ~ a day for all things scary, I pondered the thought that this story is the scariest! We have now been watching this family live the terror for 867 days worried about the safety and well being of their daughter. We are now 5 weeks beyond the 13 week plan for transition.
This morning Amie, Ayn's mom, tells us she continues to see Ayn and that they will be in court on Nov 5, 2013. I so admire her strength and her willingness through such difficulty to keep the world informed as we continue to wait with hope, praying for that happy ending.
I will be back soon with the happy ending................. Jean Nicol
Source: Freedom for Ayn blog
October 28, 2013 permalink
When Chatham-Kent CAS hires a private investagator to track parents in an effort to gain crown wardship and adoption of three children, the family is not entitled to view of copy of the investigator's report.
Parents hampered in efforts to hold onto their children
Parents have hit a judiciary brick wall in their attempt to keep their family intact.
An Ontario Court judge has ruled evidence allegedly gathered by private investigators hired by the Chatham-Kent Children's Services to watch the parents does not need to be shared with the couple unless they can show they are somehow prejudiced by the information being withheld.
An anonymous letter plus a photocopy of the judge's ruling sent to The Daily News maintains the CKCS is seeking a Crown wardship for the purpose of adoption of the couple's three young children who are currently in foster care.
The family can't be identified under the Family Law Act.
The letter is signed "anonymous lawyer in Chatham" and suggests CKCS hired private investigators who were seen by independent witnesses taking photographs through the windows of the mother's residence.
There is also an assertion the father was followed to make sure he was not breaching any court orders involving his children.
According to court documents, the ruling followed a disclosure motion heard on Oct. 8.
The parents were represented by a lawyer at Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) and Doug Desmond, a lawyer in private practice in Ridgetown.
"This isn't the sort of thing LAO comments on it is not only a policy, but actually law, that we not comment on cases or do anything that would acknowledge or deny that someone was a legal aid client," said Kristian Justesen, spokesperson for LAO, when contacted by The Daily News.
Desmond said there is nothing worse a court can do then take your children away from you.
He argued the disclosure motion citing case law used in criminal proceedings to open records that could benefit the parents during a trial.
Desmond said the finding has widespread implications.
"You don't see the accused talk to the Crown unless they are defending themselves. Parents are constantly without counsel talking to the CAS," Desmond said.
The author of the anonymous letter expressed concern that the CKCS may now at its discretion hire private investigators, assessors and supervisors of access and where their findings are "not in harmony with the agency's theory of a case, they may now claim litigation privilege and hide the evidence ... even where the evidence could result in the return of children to their parents."
Stephen Doig, interim executive director at CKCS, said legal proceedings often include motions with a variety of requested outcomes.
"Where a judge grants the motion all the parties are obliged to abide by that order," Doig said.
Desmond said the parents are now considering an appeal of the judge's order.
Source: Chatham Daily News
Addendum: Here is the decision on CanLII. According to judge Stephen J Fuerth the report stemming from a CAS effort to enforce a shotgun divorce falls under solicitor-client privilege and can be withheld from the affected couple.
Tilson Wants Forced Adoption Study
October 27, 2013 permalink
Long-time CAS champion David Tilson supports a parliamentary study into forced adoptions in the 1960s. He said his views have recently been altered. Referring to past abuses Mr Tilson said he’s not certain when the laws changed. The law, and more significantly the practice, has changed since the 1960s. Now in addition to single mothers, the social services system adds married couples to the list of targeted families, imposing a forced separation of mom and dad (shotgun divorce) then taking control of the half-orphaned children.
How ignorant was Mr Tilson of the abuses of family law before his recent epiphany? Between his resignation from the provincial parliament in April 2002 and his election to the federal parliament in June 2004, he combined forces with his wife and practiced as Tilson and Birchall. His wife continued the firm on her own before and after. Family law was and is the heart of the practice.
Tilson would support study of forced adoptions
Dufferin-Caledon MP David Tilson says he was deeply touched by an emotional meeting of several of his colleagues from all federal parties with a few ladies from Origins Canada, all of whom had been forced to give up babies for adoption.
Although the ladies might have been in their 60s and beyond, he said he perceived that they are still traumatized by the experience. “Some obviously still needed trauma counselling,” he said.
He might have been even more touched, he said, by a clip of an address by former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, in which she apologized to the mothers of forced-adoption children.
In Australia, there had been a senate enquiry into forced adoptions. Here, Origins Canada wants a federal inquiry but the prevailing attitude is that health and adoption issues are a provincial, not a federal, responsibility.
Mr. Tilson said in an interview Wednesday he had initially taken that stance when approached by two ladies at his constituency office in Bolton, but his views have been altered after considering that adoptions are occurring across provincial, and even international boundaries.
As well, “there are federal grants to the (maternity) homes and federal tax rebates. Babies are adopted across borders.” He said one woman in the Tuesday meeting in Ottawa said she had found her child in Europe.
At the time of forced adoptions, generally from the post-Second World War years up to the late 1960s, the mothers were being coerced into surrendering their babies in the first hours after the birth. Then, there was no consent required from the biological father.
Mr. Tilson said he’s not certain when the laws changed, but he described the forced adoptions as being traumatic not only for the mothers but also for the fathers and for the children who would have matured with feelings of rejection by their biological parents.
And, until recently, it was extremely difficult for the children to trace their parents. “I’m not an expert on adoption but now it’s a lot easier to find who your original parents were.”
For today’s generation, it might be difficult to imagine how things used to be with pregnancy. Today, there are high school programs available to pregnant teens. In the 1940s and beyond, it was a disgrace for an unmarried girl or woman to become pregnant. Unwed pregnant females were regarded as unfit.
“If a girl got pregnant, her family had to send her away somewhere,” said Mr. Tilson. Or she had to get married, and there would be raised eyebrows if the first birth was premature.
The Globe & Mail reported Wednesday that the 1960s were “a time when an unmarried teen was assumed unfit to mother, abortion was illegal and contraception was hard to obtain.”
The newspaper had attended the Ottawa meeting, and quoted by Barbara Estabrooks as saying she was young and unwed in 1965 “when she faced confinement in a religious maternity home, was denied the chance to hold her baby in the hospital and then appeared in court without legal representation when her son was ordered a Crown ward.”
The article said Mr. Tilson was supportive of Tory MP Harold Albrecht’s call for a parliamentary study into the practices of the era and its adoption issues.
In the interview Wednesday, he said he would support such a study by a Standing Committee but would not go so far as to support a formal public inquiry, as sought by Origins Canada.
He was somewhat at a loss about what would be done with a study when completed, and an unspoken question might be what the current role of the maternity homes is.
Someone, he surmised, should at least apologize. But who should that be? The federal government was not involved in the nature of the adoptions, so surely not the Prime Minister.
Should the churches apologize? He noted that several, including the United and Roman Catholic, as well as possibly Salvation Army, had operated homes that are still in existence.
For its part, the United Church has a study under way that’s expected to be released next month.
Source: Orangeville Citizen
October 25, 2013 permalink
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services is auditing overspending at the London and Middlesex Children’s Aid Society.
Ministry stepping in because London-area agency can’t balance its books
The Ontario ministry that funds it has put the budget for London’s child-welfare agency “under review.”
The London and Middlesex Children’s Aid Society can’t balance its books, triggering the move by Children and Youth Services.
“A team from the ministry will work with the CAS to find areas where we can find efficiencies, work better and channel resources to see where they need to be,” said ministry spokesperson Nauman Khan.
The review will begin early next month and could take about three weeks.
“We will see what areas the review identified, where there can be improvements. It is still very early,” said Khan.
In an e-mail response, CAS management said “we do welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with the ministry through this financial review.”
The agency must cut $4.6 million this year, and reduce its $70-million budget to $55 million by 2018. It’s cut 40 staff, or 10% of its total, between union and management ranks.
But as funding shrank, the CAS board approved wage hikes for senior managers. Its list of bosses paid $100,000 or more grew to 22 in 2012 from 19 the year before, and all made more money.
Jane Fitzgerald, the agency’s executive director, is Ontario’s highest-paid child-welfare agency boss. She received a $26,000 hike this year, pushing her pay to $212,717.
Wages paid and staffing levels will be part of the review, said Khan.
Workers at the CAS say they welcome the review, hoping the ministry realizes it can’t slash the budget.
“I don’t think they can balance the budget and protect children,” said Karen Cudmore of Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 116
The union also wants the review to look at management wages, staff levels and where managers work, she added.
“I hope they look at the number of managers and those who do not do direct service . . . I think there is a fundamental problem.”
Cudmore has questioned staffing in areas where employees don’t work with children, such as human resources, and costs such as the agency changing offices between Dundas and Oxford street locations. That’s meant some staff have to work from home for as long as six weeks.
“They are reorganizing everyone, rearranging all the teams and service models — people are overwhelmed here,” she said.
Source: London Free Press
October 25, 2013 permalink
In Pennsylvania Katreena Rose Young threatened to blow up a child protection office and shoot her social worker. When arrested she had a BB gun in her bra.
Woman threatens to shoot caseworker, blow up Northampton County Children, Youth and Families Division, records say
An Easton woman — who was found with a BB gun in her bra — threatened to blow up the Northampton County Children, Youth and Families Division and shoot her caseworker, according to court records.
A division employee reported to Easton police that Katreena Rose Young, 25, made those threats Oct. 15, records say. “I am going to blow up Children and Youth and shoot my caseworker,” she told Thomas Ortolano, records say.
When police interviewed Young at her home in the 100 block of South 13th Street, she had a BB gun in her bra, records say.
Young was charged with harassment and making terroristic threats. She was arraigned today before District Judge Richard Yetter and released on $7,500 unsecured bail.
Jail for Social Workers
October 25, 2013 permalink
Britain's top family judge James Munby is talking about jailing social workers when they fail to comply with court orders.
Jail social workers who take children without telling parents why, says Britain's top family judge
- Sir James Munby attacked workers in Bristol who didn't explain themselves
- They did not tell a couple why their two children were being taken from them
- They breach a court order in doing so - which could carry a jail term in future
The country’s most senior family judge yesterday launched a furious attack on social workers who failed to tell parents why their children were being adopted – and suggested that in future the same offence could carry a jail term.
Local authority workers in Bristol ignored a court order requiring them to explain why the couple’s two children were being taken for adoption.
They only released the information to the parents 45 minutes before the decision was due to be finalised, giving the family no real hope of mounting a challenge in court.
Sir James Munby, who is President of the Family Division, said their behaviour was ‘deplorable’ and ‘symptomatic of a deeply rooted culture in family courts’.
In his judgment, he accused the social workers of having a ‘slapdash’ and ‘lackadaisical’ attitude to court orders.
He said the couple, who were facing the ‘permanent loss of two children’ had been denied ‘vitally important’ information.
He also warned that in future, there would be ‘consequences’ for social workers, suggesting that they could be jailed for contempt if they fail to comply with court orders – an offence that carries a sentence of up to two years.
Until now, local authority workers have largely been protected by family courts, which also routinely tolerate delays and inefficiencies in their work.
By contrast, members of the public who have failed to comply with court orders have been dealt with severely.
The most notorious case of this was the prison sentence for contempt handed down to Wanda Maddocks, who wanted to get her father out of a care home where she thought he was being ill-treated.
Miss Maddocks was jailed without representation and in secret until her case was revealed by the Daily Mail.
But Sir James’s warning suggests council staff will now face the same punishment as ordinary members of the public if they fail – either through incompetence or unwillingness – to hand over the required information on time.
He told the court: ‘That the parents should have been put in this position is quite deplorable.
‘It is, unhappily, symptomatic of a deeply rooted culture in the family courts which, however long established, will no longer be tolerated.
'The court is entitled to expect – and from now on family courts will demand – strict compliance with all such orders.
‘Non-compliance with orders should be expected to have and will usually have a consequence.’
He added: ‘There is simply no excuse for this. Orders must be obeyed and complied with to the letter and on time. Non-compliance with an order, any order, by anyone is bad enough.
‘It is a particularly serious matter if the defaulter is a public body such as a local authority.
‘It is also a particularly serious matter if the order goes to something as vitally important as the right of a parent who is facing the permanent loss of their child to know what case is being mounted against them by a public authority.’
Lib Dem MP John Hemming, who has campaigned for openness in the family courts, said: ‘At least anybody who is sent down for contempt by Sir James will not be locked up in secret.
‘He has put the boot on to the other foot. The next time courts are let down by the incompetence or bloody-mindedness of social workers, it will be a director of children’s services facing jail rather than a parent.’
Source: Daily Mail
Robbing Foster Children
October 23, 2013 permalink
Daniel Hatcher comments on the practice of the state of Maryland applying for and then confiscating benefits payable to foster children.
How Maryland robs its most vulnerable children
The state has long taken foster children's disability and survivor benefits without notifying them
Try this on for size: The Maryland agency overseeing foster care has been appropriating foster children's assets — orphaned children's survivor benefits, for example — and handing them over to the state.
There's more: Not only does this agency take assets from children, but Gov. Martin O'Malley and the head of the Maryland Department of Human Resources encourage the practice, going so far as to hire a private company to help obtain Social Security disability (SSI) and survivor benefits (SSDI) from foster children to use as government revenue.
Children's Social Security benefits are intended to serve the children's best interests, not to pay the state back for foster care. But our foster care agency is targeting abused and neglected children who are disabled or have dead parents, applying for Social Security benefits on their behalf — and then diverting the money to state coffers. The practice has been occurring for years, but in secret. Children and their lawyers are not notified.
Despite litigation regarding the practice, Maryland hired a private contractor — MAXIMUS (tag line: "Helping Government Serve the People") — to help broaden these efforts to "maximize revenue gain." Records obtained under the Maryland Public Information Act request expose:
- MAXIMUS recommendations "designed to promote the identification of and subsequent acquisition of all SSI/SSDI benefits for all qualifying foster care children;"
- MAXIMUS' encouragement of caseworkers "to refer any child suspected from suffering from any illness — from a quadriplegic to ADHA [sic];"
- A goal to increase the number of Maryland foster children determined disabled for Social Security benefits from the current 2 percent to 15-20 percent
- Plans to convert up to $9 million annually in resulting children's benefits to government revenue;
- And a warning that Maryland may be double-dipping by possibly obtaining foster children's assets and other funds to reimburse itself for state costs more than once.
Two foster children challenged the agency practice, and their cases worked through the Maryland courts. I represented Alex, and the Legal Aid Bureau represented Ryan. Alex entered foster care at age 12, when his mother died. His father died shortly thereafter. Ryan entered foster care at age 9, and then both of his parents died. Both boys were shifted between numerous group homes and foster care placements. The boys never knew their parents left them with survivor benefits because the foster care agency never told them — and never told them it applied for their benefits, that it became representative payee to gain control over their money, or that it routed their money into state coffers. Both boys left foster care penniless.
The Court of Appeals denied hearing Alex's appeal, but it granted review of Ryan's case, and I filed an amicus brief on behalf of several advocates. The court just issued a ruling in Ryan's case, concluding that Maryland violated Ryan's constitutional due process rights by applying for and taking his funds without notifying him or his lawyer. This is an important ruling for foster children's rights. If children can find another representative payee, the state can no longer force them to hand over their money.
But unfortunately, the court upheld the state's argument that when it serves as payee it can divert children's benefits to repay state costs and thus bolster government revenue — even though children have no debt obligation to pay for their own foster care. This part of the decision is incorrect in my view. But even if it's correct, the court recognizes that Maryland has discretion as representative payee to consider the best use of the children's money.
So, since the state has discretion, I posit this question: what should our governor do? If our state and foster care agency need more revenue, is the answer really to take resources from the very children this agency exists to serve?
Other states do it too, but that doesn't make it right.
Consider how the children are fairing: Twice as many foster children suffer from post traumatic stress disorder as Iraq war veterans; over one-third of children aging out of foster care never graduated from high school; only 3 percent complete college; less than half find employment; 85 percent suffer from mental health issues; over one-third are homeless; and almost 75 percent of males become incarcerated by age 26.
A better approach would use children's money to actually help the children, such as conserving the children's funds in individualized plans to help their specialized needs and to help them achieve independence once they leave foster care.
Daniel L. Hatcher is a professor of law in the University of Baltimore's Civil Advocacy Clinic. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Baltimore Sun
Oppose Bill 88
October 20, 2013 permalink
Bill 88 (link to earlier article) will extend the age at which CAS can care for children from 16 to at least 18, possibly to age 24 under some interpretations. Pamela Palmer and Jane Scharf are trying to defeat this law. They have produced a document Privatization of Welfare with Bill 88 (pdf) and are collecting names of opponents. According to Palmer and Scharf, the bill will grant CAS a monopoly on welfare to all young persons in Ontario.
October 20, 2013 permalink
British social services intervened in the life of a Sikh family because of recreational cocaine use. After the family reformed, social workers would not leave them alone, so they fled to Thailand. Britain is trying to get Thailand to force their return to Britain.
Out to seize their children, courts hound a reformed family
A disturbing case reveals the remorseless way social workers and courts seek to track down families who have fled to a new life abroad
Even Ofsted last week seemed to be joining the ever-growing number of people alarmed by the extent to which our “child protection” system has gone horrendously off the rails. After inspecting the performance of 152 local authority “children’s services” departments, it reported that 83 per cent were performing barely adequately, or worse. Even so, Ofsted made no mention of one of the most disturbing scandals of all: the number of children being taken into care for no good reason. And nowhere is this more obvious than in the remorseless way our social workers and courts seek to track down families who have fled from them to a new life abroad.
The latest example I investigated last week concerns a family torn apart two years ago when the wife was admitted to a London hospital to be treated for a serious gum infection. Because she suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and speaks rather quickly, the hospital reported to social services a suspicion that she might be on drugs. Although tests showed that they were wrong, it was discovered that both she and her husband, a Sikh brought up in Britain – they met when she was studying law at the LSE – had been “recreational” users of cocaine.
Thanks to the parents’ record of drug use, and the fact that their home was a tip (mainly because she had been in hospital), the social workers removed their two young sons and put them into the care of a strict Muslim family. The social workers brushed aside evidence that the boys were being smacked and neglected. I am told that the older boy, pleading to be back with his “Mummy and Daddy”, fell badly behind at school.
Their shocked parents began dramatically reforming their lifestyle. As tests have confirmed, they gave up drugs. But when the wife last year produced a daughter, there was talk of sending the boys for adoption and seizing the baby, too. Increasingly desperate at the social workers’ failure to recognise the efforts she and her husband had made to mend their ways, the mother snatched her boys from care and she and her husband fled with the children to Thailand.
Since then they have built a new life. They live in a neat house. The father is a manager for an international company. The older boy has won a glowing report from school. But instead of recognising this, the only response from our “child protection” system has been to find any way to get the children back to England. The British Embassy was asked to enlist the help of Thai social workers, who reported that the children seemed happy and well looked after, and they saw no cause to intervene.
But back in Britain, I gather, a judge is now so angry at their breaking of the law that the parents have been warned that, unless they bring the children back by the end of this month, the police will be asked to act. Furthermore, the media will be informed and allowed to name the family. Yet the moment the parents return to Britain, they are told, they could be imprisoned and their children again taken into care.
If the system cannot recognise that these parents are now in a very different state from that which prompted its intervention two years ago, what can they do? They have no one to speak for them in a British court (at several hearings, the mother, representing herself, found herself up against three different sets of barristers and solicitors, plus a QC, all at great public expense).
If the foreign authorities see no reason to intervene, why should this any longer be a concern of our own courts, at such huge ongoing cost to British taxpayers?
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Beware of Drunk Naked Social Worker
October 19, 2013 permalink
When drunk Florida DCF worker Tamieka Lewis was thrown out of the house by her boyfriend, she stripped naked and attacked him and his car with a baseball bat.
Report: Tavares DCF worker was drunk, naked when she bashed boyfriend's van
LAKE COUNTY, Fla. —
A Lake County Department of Children and Families worker has found herself on the other side of the law, accused of attacking her boyfriend and bashing in the windows of his van while she was drunk and naked.
Tavares police said Tamieka Lewis had been drinking when the bizarre fight happened outside the Disston Avenue home she shares with her boyfriend, who is also the father of her child.
Lewis is now on paid leave but officials said they are working on firing her.
Channel 9's Tim Barber went to the home on Wednesday, but no one answered the door. A few minutes later, Barber saw Lewis running to her car but she refused to answer his questions and sped off.
Several neighbors told Channel 9 they were surprised to hear of the incident as they never had a problem with the couple.
But if what the police are saying is true, neighbors said they don't think Lewis should be investigating cases for DCF.
Eyewitness News found out Lewis had been working at the office for two years.
October 13, 2013 permalink
A woman who raised her own grandson was subject to silly and onerous conditions by a power-tripping social worker. The boy's jaw was broken while in foster care, but that cannot be discussed. The boy cannot visit places he loves, but is restricted to places he hates, including the beach where his injury occurred. Christopher Booker follows up his earlier story.
'We decide where you eat’ – social workers love a petty power trip
Why is a social worker spoiling the contact between a woman and her grandson?
By Christopher Booker, 4:19PM BST 12 Oct 2013
A year ago, under the heading “Don’t ask your grandson how his jaw got broken, say social workers”, I reported the bizarre story of an Essex grandmother who was allowed a brief “contact” session with her beloved 11-year-old grandson, shortly after he had been beaten up on a beach by a gang of teenagers while he was unhappily in foster care. She was told she would only be allowed to meet the boy she had brought up, who loves his “Nan” and whom she has never harmed in any way, on strict condition that no reference could be made to his injuries and how his jaw had been broken.
Now the grandmother, who formerly made something of a name for herself in showbusiness, is having an equally bizarre argument with the boy’s social worker over how the two of them should spend three hours of the 25 hours of “contact” they are allowed each year. Granny wants to take the boy to his favourite restaurant for lunch, as he wishes. But this has been forbidden by the social worker, quoting a judge’s instruction that their contact sessions must be “activity related”. He therefore suggests that the boy should be taken to a McDonald’s, which he hates, or that the foster carer should provide him with a packed lunch. As for the rest of the contact, the social worker suggests that the boy should be taken to a bowling arcade, which costs £8.50 for a single game, and which he also hates, or for a walk on the same “beech” (sic) where his jaw was broken last year in the incident they are forbidden to mention.
How on earth could we have created a system which allows a little jobsworth social worker to throw his weight around in this absurdly dehumanised way, which makes a complete mockery of the claim that the system’s only concern is to put “the interests of the child” first? And if reporting this brings any vengeful comeback from that social worker, I warn him under the new “Munby rules” that, next time, he will be named.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
October 12, 2013 permalink
Hamilton CAS workers are complaining of cuts. As usual, they claim it is the children who will be harmed by cutbacks to child snatching.
Hamilton CAS workers protest cuts that ‘hurt’ children
They said it many different ways.
But the message delivered by Hamilton Children's Aid Society workers Friday was clear. They feel government cuts to their agency are hurting Hamilton's most vulnerable children. About 100 of the CAS staff and their supporters gathered Friday outside their Hamilton headquarters to protest a budget-driven shutdown.
The Hamilton Children's Aid Society has scheduled five days of shutdowns this year to cope with provincial funding cuts.
The CAS already cut 70 staff in June who deliver front-line services for at-risk children and youth in Hamilton, said Leanne Slaughter, president of CUPE 3042. That was about 20 per cent of the agency's staff.
The union says it has also been told further cuts of $491,000 in 2013-14, $444,000 in 2014-15 and $2 million in 2015-16 will be needed to balance the books over the next three years.
"We're here to show the government this isn't working," said Samantha Florento, president of CUPE 3899. "We should be out helping families and children in our care."
"How can we be the eyes and ears protecting children in the community?" she added. "We'd rather be working."
Florento said the shutdown means home visits, family court hearings and medical appointments were all cancelled Friday. Five staff remained on the job to handle emergency calls, she said.
There are currently about 249 staff in two CUPE locals working at the CAS offices on Arrowsmith Road.
Dominic Verticcio, executive director of the Hamilton CAS, said the agency is caught between "a rock and a hard place."
"Our commitment is not to lay off any more staff," he said. "That is not good for our staff or our community."
Verticcio said the cost savings involved in giving staff five unpaid days off will balance the budget for this year.
He said the Friday before a long weekend was picked so the Friday staffing would be similar to staffing the remainder of the long weekend, causing the least amount of disruption to staff and clients.
Slaughter said Friday's gathering wasn't about the union, but was about doing what's right for the children of Hamilton.
"We cannot allow (these cuts) to continue," she said. "We hope the government will realize the value of these children as they are our future."
The Hamilton Catholic Children's Aid Society also laid off 10 of 185 employees this year due to a 2 per cent funding reduction from the province. The cut positions included building maintenance, human resources, community outreach and administrative services. No front-line workers have been affected.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Opening of the Courts
October 12, 2013 permalink
A rally group gathered in Toronto to draw attention to the failings of family court during the opening of the courts. Vern Beck's report is enclosed.
Vernon Beck Some photos from the Opening of the Courts Rally in downtown Toronto. It was a good day for those who participated.
Some participants came as far a way as Sault Ste Marie, Sarnia and Brantford to attend. One 80+year-old grandmother asked for a Canada Court Watch T shirt and holding signs up had no problem in engaging people on the street in conversation about how the family court system had made it impossible for her to see her grandchildren in spite of her teenage grandchildren wanting so desperately to see her.
During the day I got to speak to a number of police officers, lawyers and persons off the street who were more than willing to speak about their personal opinions about the family court system. There is no doubt that there is a growing public mistrust of the family court and child protection system, not only by members of the public but by professionals working in the system as well. I had one Bay St. Lawyer allege that coverup and incompetence exist within the court system and child protection system in Toronto. He is willing to be interviewed and to go public with his experience. Some lawyers are beginning to stand up and are willing to speak out because they understand that without true justice in Canada, democracy in Canada will be doomed.
A few law students came over and spoke to some of the protestors and were shocked to hear about some of the experiences of those who had their families destroyed by the adversarial family court system. The young law students were eager to learn more. Public protests are an important tool which help bring public awareness to problems affecting Canadians.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Source: Facebook, Vern Beck
No Parents, No Consent
October 5, 2013 permalink
Those who advocate that teenagers should get parental consent for certain activities forget that for state wards there is often no parent at all. The supreme court of Nebraska has ruled that a girl identified only as Anonymous 5 can't have an abortion because she has no parent to give permission.
Nebraska Supreme Court rejects foster child's abortion request
LINCOLN — The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday refused a 16-year-old foster child's request to get an abortion without parental consent.
The court majority ruled that the girl, identified only as Anonymous 5, was not mature enough to make the decision herself.
But two judges, in a dissent, said Nebraska law leaves the girl without an avenue to get an abortion.
“The Legislature has assumed under (the law) that all minors will have a parent or guardian who can give consent,” Judge William Connolly wrote. “As this case illustrates, however, that is not always true.”
Connolly said the girl involved in the case does not have a parent or guardian to give consent for an abortion, other than the State Department of Health and Human Services.
But state regulations bar the department from either giving or withholding consent for a ward to get an abortion.
“She is in legal limbo — a quandary of the Legislature's making,” Connolly said.
The high court ruling was the first involving Nebraska's new parental consent law.
Passed last year, the law requires girls age 17 and younger to get written, notarized consent from a parent or guardian for an abortion. Previous state law required only that a parent be notified of a girl's plans for an abortion.
The new law allows girls to bypass the consent provision in medical emergencies, if they are victims of abuse or neglect or if they can convince a judge that they are mature and well-informed enough to make the decision themselves.
The high court said the girl is not currently a victim of abuse, even though she was removed from her parents two years ago because of physical abuse and neglect. Her parents lost their parental rights earlier this year.
Catherine Mahern, the attorney representing the girl, said her client went before Douglas County District Judge Peter Bataillon in July. At the time, the girl was 10 weeks pregnant.
Mahern declined to say whether the girl is still pregnant, three months later. “It is not in my client's best interests to comment,” she said.
She noted there are ways for a minor to bypass parental consent other than through the courts. Among them is going to another state, she said.
Mahern said she believes the court ruling avoided some issues, including whether the district court judge demonstrated bias.
According to the Supreme Court ruling, Bataillon had asked the girl if she understood that “when you have the abortion it's going to kill the child inside you.”
The high court majority refused to rule on that issue, saying that it should have been raised in district court.
The high court also declined to consider whether the girl had a right to decide on an abortion without the consent of HHS, the agency which has legal responsibility for her.
Nor did it decide whether the law allows foster parents to act as the girl's guardians in granting consent for an abortion.
Suzanne Gage, a lobbyist for Americans United for Life, the group that pushed for the parental consent law, said the group's attorneys are studying the ruling.
Jill June, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which provides abortion services in Omaha and Lincoln, called the ruling “concerning” because the court eliminated “a safe and legal option for a woman in a dire circumstance.”
Source: Omaha World Herald
How to Evict Tenants
October 4, 2013 permalink
Landlords in New York know the real way to get rid of an unwanted tenant. Forget landlord and tenant law, which gives too many protections to tenants. Just call ACS and make a report of child abuse. New York is not the only place where landlords use child protection to get back at tenants.
False Abuse Reports Trouble Child Welfare Advocates
Child protection experts say false, malicious reports of abuse are not uncommon. Efforts to address the problem face complex challenges.
In some neighborhoods in this city, it’s not uncommon for people to file an allegation of child abuse or neglect to settle a grudge.
In a meeting with City Limits, lawyers and social workers from The Bronx Defenders, which represents parents with child welfare cases in the Bronx, described a string of such cases: a landlord who repeatedly called in child neglect complaints against a tenant whose housing support check wasn’t coming through; a neighbor who reported another neighbor for neglect after a fight over a missing cell phone escalated.
Attorney Ryan Napoli recalled a client living in a homeless shelter whose 15-day-old son was removed from her care after someone reported she was a drug-user and a domestic violence victim. Although her son was returned five days later, the investigation lasted six months, during which time Napoli’s client was required to separate from her boyfriend, enter a domestic violence shelter and be drug tested regularly (she passed each time) before her case was dismissed at trial, he says. Napoli’s client assumed the caller was another woman in the same homeless shelter who was jealous of her relationship with her boyfriend, but she couldn’t prove it because the call was made anonymously.
Across the divide, an organization representing foster and adoptive parents, New York State Citizens’ Coalition for Children, recently hosted a talk by attorney Margaret Burt, who said she regularly represents foster and adoptive parents who are the target of repeated harassing calls to the state's central registry of child abuse reports, often by biological parents who themselves feel powerless to reclaim their connection to their children.
Burt described one adoptive mother who had had 72 reports against her in a two-and-a-half month period. When the woman’s adopted children saw the child protective worker’s car pull up—a daily occurrence, Burt said—they would immediately start removing their clothes because they knew the investigator was going to check them for marks and bruises. Despite attempts to stop the calls—ACS reported the case to the district attorney, and the district attorney’s office took the case—the investigations didn’t stop until the caller phoned the White House and threatened President Obama. After that, Burt said, the woman was arrested and the investigations ceased.
Advocates for domestic violence survivors, in particular, have long been concerned about the role such reports play in keeping women in violent relationships and in punishing them when they leave them. “We see the threat of false reports to child welfare and then actual malicious and retaliatory reporting by batterers at all different stages of abusive relationships, and we see it frequently,” explains Liz Roberts, Chief Program Officer for Safe Horizon, the largest provider of services to survivors of domestic violence in the country.
Just what to do about such calls, however, is a conundrum for a system that was built around encouraging people to speak out whenever they believe a child is being harmed and charged with the unenviable task of determining not only whether a child has been abused or neglected, but also with predicting whether that child will be hurt in the future.
Scope of problem unknown
Neither Roberts nor other advocates can point with precision to how large a problem malicious false reporting is.
“It’s not something we track, and I can’t tell you that it’s X percent of cases. But if you ask any of our staff members who have been around for a while, they’ll tell you they’ve heard about such cases many times," says Roberts, who worked at New York City’s Children’s Services (ACS) from 2000 to 2010, and was the agency’s first director of domestic violence policy. "Batterers are opportunistic. When they realize just how important the children are to the victim, that threat—that 'I’ll call ACS and tell them you’re an unfit mother'—holds a lot of weight.”
For most people in middle-class neighborhoods, this kind of harassment is a reality they’re lucky never to have even imagined. More children are removed from eight of the city’s poorest neighborhoods than from New York City’s other 42 neighborhoods combined, and in places like East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Jamaica and some of the poorest neighborhoods in the Bronx, abusive exes and vindictive neighbors know little evidence is required to trigger a terrifying investigation.
Even when a parent has been investigated dozens of times without any finding of maltreatment, ACS will not flag those cases or counsel investigators to approach any particular investigation with particular skepticism—in case a family’s situation changes and children who once appeared safe wind up not being so.
State law does require ACS to send reports it believes to be maliciously false to the appropriate District Attorney’s office. But advocates told City Limits their experiences suggest such cases are rarely tried. “These cases are extremely difficult to prove,” says Roberts. “Abusers can be pretty savvy, giving allegations that are difficult to completely disprove. The worst offenders do things like use pay phones and never give their names.”
In 2011, instead of simply shrugging off such calls as an unfortunate but inevitable byproduct of protecting children, ACS took a step to more deeply understand the problem through the eyes of survivors and their children. It agreed to a series of trainings by Voices of Women (VOW), a grassroots group of domestic violence survivors, many of whose members have themselves been the victims of false and malicious reporting. To date, VOW says, it has trained approximately 250 ACS frontline staff, supervisors and upper management.
A personal stake
“When a report is given, people have a visceral reaction that it just might be happening and it’s very hard to say: Don’t investigate that case. Nobody wants to be responsible for leaving a child in a dangerous situation,” says Singh.
One thing VOW tries to show in its trainings—a fictional skit of a 60-day investigation based on the real accounts they say they have collected over the years—is that false and malicious reports, and the policies that allow them to go relatively unchecked, themselves hurt children.
Sometimes the investigations impede a family’s recovery from earlier trauma. Roberts recalls three children she counseled whose father made a handful of false reports against their mother over a two-year period. “In that case,” says Roberts, “there was every reason to believe the allegations were false, and the child welfare folks were respectful and did the right thing.
Still, each time, they had to interview the mother. They had to interview the children separately. They had to open the fridge and look in the apartment. Every time the child protective worker interviewed the children, they knew: ‘My father wants me to say bad things about my mother, but I don’t want to say bad thing about her.’ It really got in the way of the family healing.”
Other times, the calls can have a more profound impact, especially when a parent is in fact struggling—with depression, with homelessness, or is fighting with an older child who’s aligned with the batterer in some way. Those very real problems combined with a false report—often of flagrant forms of abuse or neglect—may lead child protective workers to conclude that children need to be removed rather than that the family needs to be supported.
In the testimony VOW has collected from survivors over the years, they describe one mother who lost custody of her children after the father reported that she was delusional. The report, combined with the fact that the mother was living in a homeless shelter while her husband had two jobs and was living in a stable home, may have tipped the case in his favor. “The best case scenario is that the family gets help with those stressors, and we see that,” says Roberts. “But the worst case scenario is that it could lead to a court case that then becomes another enormous stressor for the family to manage.”
But it may be the fear that such investigations arouse within a whole community that has the most widespread impact. For people who are already vulnerable—feeling powerless bcause of poverty and past trauma—the realization that anyone can call in a report against them at any time can be particularly devastating.
VOW tells the story of one undocumented immigrant who took her 2-month-old daughter and fled her abusive husband, an American citizen. But when her husband threatened to report her to immigration and called in a report to the state central registry alleging that she was mentally ill and harming the baby, she gave up custody of her daughter to him. Three years later, VOW says, she is still fighting in family court to win overnight visits with her daughter.
ACS workers face pressures
Through their skit, VOW tries to help workers understand the fear that many survivors live with. They explain that some women are afraid to even speak up about who might be reporting them, and counsel workers to ask certain questions, like: “Are you in court fighting for custody, visitation, or divorce? Have you recently sought an order of protection?” Those, they say, may be red flags that a batterer is making a call as a means of extending his power and control.
They also listen to workers’ frustrations with domestic violence survivors who hide their problems and don’t cooperate—making investigators’ brutally hard jobs that much harder. Still, they tell workers, if you go into a home without understanding the patterns of domestic violence, then the victim sees you as just another abuser.
For Roberts, this is an issue with no easy answers. “Sixty percent of reports are unfounded,” says Roberts, “but that doesn’t necessarily mean the report was malicious. Responsible citizens can make reports who don’t understand the law or who don’t have enough information, or they may have reasonable cause to be concerned, but there was just not enough evidence.”
Roberts believes one of the most important steps investigators can take is to document their suspicions in their case notes well, so that if there is a repeat call, the next investigator walks into the home with information. ACS should also continue to try to build trust in communities, says Roberts—so that domestic violence survivors know that if they reach out for support for themselves and to keep their children safe, they won’t be punished. That way, says Roberts, “batterers’ threats and exaggerations wouldn’t carry as much weight.”
Is anonymity appropriate?
Martin Guggenheim, the founder of New York University Law School’s Family Defense Clinic and a leading advocate for the rights of parents in child welfare cases, believes state legislators and the state’s Office of Children and Family Services could take more concrete steps to reduce the impact of the crime.
One solution, says Guggenheim, might be to limit the number of repeated anonymous calls that the hotline is willing to accept. (Guggenheim notes that on paper, the law does not allow anonymous reports, even though accepting anonymous calls is standard practice. Moreover, says Guggenheim, in the handful of states that do not allow anonymity, no studies have shown that children are less safe.)
Even if the state did not want to refuse to accept all anonymous calls, says Guggenheim, at a certain point it could decide to refuse to accept repeated unfounded calls without the caller offering identifying information. This, in turn, might dissuade some harassment. It also might make it easier to prosecute some of the most egregious cases.
Guggenheim believes that a system of differential response might also go a long way in helping victims feel less violated. If, for instance, calls were repeatedly made anonymously, if all previous investigations had been unfounded, and if there were reason to believe that the calls were being made maliciously, then the state could have a way of noting this, of informing investigators of this, and of having investigators enter the home in a way that was less invasive.
“I think it would make a world of difference to a parent,” says Guggenheim, “if the person who comes to the home the next time were to say, ‘I’m very sorry to be visiting you again. I hope you can understand that I’m required to do this. All I need to do is take a look at your child.’
“I’m not sure this would ever lead to a victim feeling that everything that just happened is fair…But the fact that parents now go through the whole gamut of an investigation each time greatly exacerbates the problem… Ultimately it would be saying that the state has an equal interest in protecting children from harm as protecting families being investigated for harm to children.”
Source: City Limits
Cop Punished for Saving Family
September 24, 2013 permalink
Fixcas has spoken to many families undergoing a shotgun divorce. One starting point is the domestic disturbance call. When police arrive they are encouraged, or even required, to make an arrest. Usually it is the father. The next day he is released on bail, but only after signing an undertaking to stay away from his family. During the next one to two years, social services intervenes in the one-parent family to make the breakup permanent. The final irony comes when the criminal case comes to trial. Often the crown moves to dismiss the charges for lack of evidence.
Today's story is of Chatham-Kent policeman Stan Blonde. When he responded to a domestic disturbance, he warned the woman of the severe consequences of filing charges against her boyfriend. For this act preserving a family, Blonde has been disciplined.
Officer Pleads Guilty To Violation
Chatham-Kent Police Service Constable Stan Blonde is being demoted after pleading guilty to discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act.
The charges stem from an incident in February of 2012, when Blonde was called to a domestic dispute where a woman’s boyfriend had pulled her hair. Blonde gave the victim the option of pressing charges and listed the negative repercussions for the accused. However, by law, charges must be laid at every domestic dispute officers respond to.
“This was an officer charged with responsibilities to enforce the criminal code and while he’s so doing he’s also bound by a 14-page policy about how to handle these types of things,” says Blonde’s lawyer Glen Donald. “In the course of a 55-minute investigation different discussions get had, and as a result he did something that was in violation of policy.”
This is the fourth time Blonde has been found guilty under the Police Services Act. He will be demoted from 1st class constable to 2nd class constable for four months and have to undergo domestic violence training.
Source: Blackburn News
CAS, Get Out!
September 23, 2013 permalink
The Six Nations band council wants Brant CAS off its territory by October 1. But CAS challenges the authority of the council. It's a good guess they will still be taking children through the autumn.
CAS off Six Nations by Oct. 1
A major issue seems to have derailed a carefully planned handoff of child protection services from the Brant Children's Aid Society to Six Nations band council.
Even though the 36-member native services branch of the CAS has a signed protocol allowing it to continue working on Six Nations until May 2014, the band council has decided that the agency must be off the reserve by Oct. 1.
But, according to documents provided to The Expositor by several sources, the Confederacy Chiefs have asked the agency to stay.
A letter to the CAS, Aaron Detlor, a lawyer and spokesman for the Haudenosaunee Development Institute, stated that band council has no authority or jurisdiction over the CAS and that the Confederacy Chiefs Council fears the sudden move of the agency will put their children at risk.
"At this time, the (Confederacy is) not in favour of seeing the Native Services Branch of Brant CAS removed ... such a displacement will endanger and threaten the well-being of at-risk children."
In response, Chief Coun. Bill Montour wrote to Detlor saying the chiefs had "failed to grasp the severity of the complex picture" surrounding the issue.
Montour said the community has expressed unhappiness with the CAS's satellite office, alluding to suicides and attempted suicides by people who were distressed by CAS decisions.
"Currently children's aid services seem to render our children to the status of commodities," said Montour, noting there's no working relationship between the CAS and the band.
But Montour noted the CAS will still provide protection services to the reserve - just not from its on-reserve office.
Andy Koster, CAS executive director, said he still hopes for negotiations before the Oct. 1 deadline.
"I have great respect for both Chief Montour and the Confederacy chiefs. We thought there was a pretty good relationship out on Six Nations with issues being addressed.
"Our board has voted unanimously on three occasions to approve the takeover of the process by Six Nations," Koster said.
The next part of the multi-stage process would be a six- to 12-month transition period that would include getting ministry approval, recruiting additional staff, providing training and finalizing a protocol. After that comes ministerial designation and an annual review.
Koster said that the rush to get his 36-member staff off the reserve could compromise the safety of Six Nations children since many issues haven't been arranged, including emergency service, calls about foster problems and access for court orders.
"It's my obligation to point this out because, first and foremost, I have to fight for the safety of children."
Koster wrote a long letter to the Confederacy chiefs.
"At the end of the day, moving skilled Six Nations child welfare workers off the territory before an operational replacement has been developed and put into place will make many Six Nations children less safe and the liability will shift to the elected council."
The Six Nations band councillors who voted last week to push the agency off Six Nations have different ideas how things will be handled in two weeks.
Coun. Darryl Hill, who voted to uphold the motion for the CAS to leave, said he believes Six Nations' own social service department can handle any child protection situations that arise.
"They're just as well-trained and diverse and the thought is that would be keeping it native. Most of the current CAS workers are native but not all of them."
Coun. Bob Johnson said he won't vote against the majority decision.
"I'm cautious and concerned about continuing the direct service of the CAS here."
Johnson noted that the CAS will still provide services on the reserve.
But Coun. Ross Johnson said a closer look at the situation is needed.
"I believe we need more due diligence on both sides to bring the parties together. We need to think of the children and look out for their best interests."
Source: Brantford Expositor
Britain May Get Ombudsman
September 22, 2013 permalink
Britain may appoint an ombudsman to investigate outrageous cases of unnecessary intervention by child protectors. Three cases are mentioned, including the Webster family.
Ombudsman could investigate child 'snatching' by courts
An independent Ombudsman could be appointed to investigate cases in which social workers and the courts are accused of taking children from their homes without justification.
Tim Loughton, the children's minister, is considering the landmark step after he grew concerned over a number of cases where children have been wrongly taken and placed for adoption.
He says he has become aware of a minority of "very questionable judgments" made by the courts in a number of "highly contentious" cases.
Mr Loughton said: "There is work needed to make sure that the small number of cases which go horribly wrong, and are difficult to justify, are tackled as well, so that people feel the adoption system is doing the right thing for children.
"I am working hard with judges, local authorities, voluntary organisations and parents to find workable solutions – which could include some sort of Ombudsman-type role."
Parents whose children are removed by the family courts can already appeal to higher courts against the decision. Any move to introduce an Ombudsman would need to include a clear guidelines on the circumstances in which he or she could overrule judges' decisions.
A Department for Education spokesman said: "The minister knows there's a problem with a small number of cases and he is looking at how the system can be made to work better. One of the options that he has suggested is an Ombudsman type figure or mechanism."
The move follows claims by campaigners that social workers are too eager to take children into care in cases where there is little clear-cut evidence they have been abused by their parents. They also claim that secretive family courts too readily endorse the actions of social workers at the expense of children's best interests.
Mr Loughton has appointed Professor Eileen Munro to examine child protection and the way social workers operate. He has also set in motion the Norgrove review into the workings of the family courts, which is due to publish its interim report later this month.
One of the most controversial cases in the family courts involved Mark and Nicky Webster, whose three children were taken into care in 2004 after doctors claimed that leg fractures on the middle child had been inflicted deliberately.
They were adopted before new scientific evidence came to light suggesting that the boy could have been suffering from scurvy.
Yet in 2009 the Court of Appeal ruled that even though the decision to remove the children had been wrong, the adoptions were final. The couple were allowed to keep their fourth child.
Mrs Webster, 29, of Cromer, Norfolk, last night welcomed the Ombudsman proposal. She said: "Cases like ours need to be looked at to see if mistakes have been made and if they can be put right. Its important to have someone independent doing that away from the strong feelings of social workers and court appointed guardians."
Controversial case: Mark and Nicky Webster
Mark and Nicky Webster fought tooth and nail to prove they had not harmed their little boy after their three eldest were taken into care.
But despite the Appeal Court ruling they were victims of a miscarriage of justice they have been told the family cannot be reunited.
Mr and Mrs Webster's three children were taken into care in 2004 after doctors claimed that six tiny fractures found on the middle child had been inflicted deliberately. All three were later adopted.
Three years later new scientific evidence came to light which suggested that they boy could have suffered from a rare case of scurvy.
However, despite the Court of Appeal ruling in February 2009 that the decision to take the children was wrong, it was too late to return them because their adoption was final.
The ruling stated that "after three years it was in any event too late to set the orders aside, and that it would not be in the interests of the children to do so".
Lord Justice Wall said social workers and medical staff had only done what they thought was best for the injured child.
During their fight to regain custody of their children Mr and Mrs Webster fled to Ireland to prevent their fourth child, Brandon, being taken from them at birth.
They returned to their home in Cromer, Norfolk, a year later, where, after a long legal battle, Norfolk County Council dropped proceedings to take Brandon into care after accepting that he was in 'robust good health'.
Mrs Webster, 29, said: "You see cases on the news about people harming their children. It's beyond belief that we were put in a similar pigeon hole to that."
Controversial case: Fifteen minute hearing
Two young children were taken from their mother by social services after a 15-minute hearing during which a judge failed to take evidence from her or her sons.
The woman said she was given no chance to say goodbye to them as police and social services took the children before had returned from the court hearing.
A High Court judge later said he was "aghast" at the decision and ordered the children to be immediately returned to their parents, saying the judge's hasty decision was "not acceptable".
The mother said that she was physically sick when she learned the boys had been taken without her even seeing them.
She said: "The judge didn't want to know what we had to say. How someone can take such as decision like that without hearing from the children's mother is beyond me."
She said problems started when one of the boys fell in the house and banged his right ear. The mother, who was already involved with social services because the boys have learning difficulties, telephoned the case worker who recommended she take him to hospital.
He was checked and sent home. When the same thing happened a week later social services again had him examined at hospital, but this time instigated an emergency care order.
She said she was given 24 hours notice of the court hearing, in Derby, and given the necessary paperwork 20 minutes before it began.
Following the judgement, the mother said she raced home in a taxi to see the boys, only to find police and social services waiting for her outside her house. When it emerged her fiancée had taken them to a relative, she started going there but was told that the authorities had beaten her to it.
She said: "I was physically sick. I could not believe it. I didn't even get a chance to see them."
Controversial case: Tim and Gina Williams
Tim and Gina Williams's three children spent two years in care because social workers wrongly believed that they were at risk of abuse.
Their son and two daughters were placed with separate foster families despite there being no evidence against the couple, from Newport, South Wales.
As a result, they missed their children's birthdays, Christmases and their first days in new schools.
The Williams were finally exonerated at the High Court in October 2006 and the children, now aged 16, 13 and 11, were returned to them.
Two years later the High Court awarded them a "six figure" sum in compensation and Newport City Council issued them a full written apology
Their nightmare began in August 2004, Mr Williams called the police after finding his youngest daughter, then aged five, naked from the waist down with an 11-year-old friend on top of her.
The girl was taken to hospital for a precautionary check-up. Here a doctor claimed to have found evidence of long-standing abuse – but by an adult, not another child.
Mr Williams and his wife were told that they were under suspicion and the children were taken into care. A second doctor confirmed the evidence of abuse and the couple were restricted to supervised weekly visits to their children.
There were only exonerated after a US expert in child abuse examined the evidence and disputed the claims by the British doctors, who subsequently accepted that they had been mistaken.
The council conceded that the children should never have been taken from their parents on the basis of the evidence.
Speaking before the settlement awarded by the High Court, Mr Williams said his children's ordeal had left them scared and insecure. He said: "They were ripped from us and still don't understand why. They think it was because they were naughty, even though we've tried to explain it to them as best we can.
"All three are extra clingy and constantly fight for our attention. If they don't see us at the school gates the moment the bell rings they freak out, so we have to get there 10 minutes early and stand in exactly the same spot. We take them everywhere with us because they refuse to go to babysitters."
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Longer Foster Care
September 22, 2013 permalink
Ontario is considering bill 88 to extend the age of children in care. Children over age 16 may sign themselves into care until age 18. The bill also adds, under additional purposes of the act, accord with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Bills sponsored by CAS are usually passed so this one is likely to become law.
Past experience suggests that voluntary agreements with CAS are often coerced. In the future, CAS may try to prevent older teens from returning to their parents. If the funding continues as for younger children, CAS will get an annual bounty of perhaps $30,000 per teen, but the teen himself will get a meager stipend of under $1000 per month. The CAS bureaucracy will spend the rest.
For Teens Frozen Out of Ontario’s Child Welfare System, a New Bill Offers Hope
Bill 88 would prevent children aged 16 or older from being denied age-appropriate aid.
Ontario lawmakers are set to vote on a bill that would quash a rule preventing some teens from accessing child welfare support services.
Under current Ontario law, if a 16-year-old comes to the attention of welfare services for the first time at that age, he or she is classified as an adult, and can only access adult benefits.
Bill 88, the Child and Family Services Amendment Act, seeks to change that.
First introduced by Barrie MPP Rod Jackson in June, Bill 88 is due for a second reading at the provincial legislature on Thursday. Campaigners are calling for cross-party support.
Jackson says this is an issue he has been passionate about since attending 2011′s legislative hearings on child welfare, where he listened to youngsters talk about their experiences.
“If kids go into the system at 15, they get child welfare benefits until 20, but if they are 16, it means they’re out of luck,” he said. “The options then are very limited, and often have negative outcomes. It’s just not fair.”
Child welfare provides children who lack parental care with help accessing the necessities of life: money, housing, school, and other things, like counselling. The service is specially tailored to the needs of kids, meaning it’s often more appropriate for teenagers than is adult welfare.
Johanna Macdonald, a lawyer with Justice for Children and Youth (JUST), said many of the young people who seek the assistance of JUST are ineligible for child protection services simply on the basis of their age.
“It means that on a daily basis I am not able to provide legal options for young people,” she said.
“They are often coming from an abusive situation, and we are trying to help them get set up. It’s frustrating not to have access to the child welfare system for these young people.”
Macdonald said that the adult welfare system is geared toward employment, and that 16-year-old homeless youths have very different requirements.
JUST, as an organization, strongly supports Bill 88.
“Ontario remains the only jurisdiction in Canada that limits access to child welfare services for 16- and 17-year-olds in this way,” the group said recently in a statement.
“This bill recognizes Canada’s international obligations to provide care for all Ontario’s youth in need.”
Jackson said he expects the bill to find broad support on Thursday, which would get it through to a third reading. After that, it’s up to the government to get it passed into law.
“This is not something I want credit for. The goal is to get it done,” he said.
“I am not looking to score political points. I think this is something that fell through the cracks, and perhaps needed someone to champion it.”
For those worried about the financial implications, Jackson argues it is not a “money bill” that will further strain the province’s finances.
“These children do end up engaging one type or another of support services; therefore, this bill is more about reallocation of resources.”
Reporting the Opposite of the Facts
September 22, 2013 permalink
Christopher Booker says that television is part of the problem with child protection. Instead of exposing the excessive intervention in families, Britain's Channel 4 television asks questions such as: why do social workers have a culture that is so resistant to taking children into care, so resistant to intervening?
Do your homework, Jon Snow
Social workers are far from reluctant to take children into care
At its best, Channel 4 News reporting is second to none. But when it comes to biased and self-righteously picky interviewing, its presenters, such as Jon Snow and Krishnan Guru-Murthy, kick Jeremy Paxman, John Humphrys and Co off the park.
Discussing a report on the failure of Coventry’s “child protection” agencies to save little Daniel Pelka from being starved and battered to death, Snow asked the head of the Association of Directors of Social Services why social workers “have a culture that is so resistant to taking children into care, so resistant to intervening”.
Viewers must have asked: “What planet is Snow living on?” Two minutes’ homework could have told him that, far from being “resistant” to intervening, applications by social workers to take one or more children into care have in the past five years more than doubled, from below 400 a month to nearly 1,000. So hell-bent are our social workers on tearing families apart that the number of children in care in England has soared to a record 67,000.
The real scandal here, as I report week after week, is that far too many are removed from their parents for wholly bogus reasons – let alone that too many suffer abuse in “care” much worse than anything alleged against their parents. That is the story Channel 4 should be looking into. But it would be much too “politically incorrect” for them even to think of doing so.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
The Real Way to Save Jeffrey
September 21, 2013 permalink
A coroner's inquest is under way into the death of Jeffrey Baldwin. Until now fixcas has ignored the event. These inquests are a choreographed charade that always lead to the same conclusion. The coroner's jury returns a set of recommendations all suggesting giving children's aid more money and power. Today's article contains an observation that will surely be overlooked in the jury's recommendations — if Jeffrey had been left with his parents, he most likely would be alive today. Even imperfect parents, as Baldwin's were, give better care than the children's aid bureaucracy.
Christie Blatchford: If Jeffrey Baldwin had stayed with his ‘young and stupid’ parents, he’d probably be alive today
Jeffrey Baldwin’s father sobbed in the witness stand as he remembered the last time he saw his little boy.
Despite Richard Baldwin’s evident distress, or more likely because of it, his tears came as welcome relief: At last, a witness was weeping for the right person.
The 37-year-old was testifying Wednesday at the Ontario coroner’s inquest into his son’s Nov. 30, 2002, death from the lethal trifecta of pneumonia, septic shock and starvation.
“I gave him a hug, in the living room,” Mr. Baldwin said.
“How did he feel?” coroner’s counsel Jill Witkin asked.
“Very small,” said Mr. Baldwin, his voice breaking.
“Did he say anything?” Ms. Witkin asked.
“He just called me Dad,” Mr. Baldwin said, sobbing.
This last visit was in the spring or summer of 2002, months before the five-year-old died.
By that time, Jeffrey and his three siblings had been in the custody of their maternal grandparents, Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman, for years, their own young parents deemed inept by both family courts and child-care workers.
In fact, all had been bamboozled by Bottineau, a woman of marginal intelligence but astonishing cunning who pitted family members against one another and manipulated social workers with psychopathic aplomb.
In 2006, Bottineau and Kidman were convicted of second-degree murder in Jeffrey’s death and of forcible confinement in the regular locking-up of both the little boy and his then-six-year-old sister in a foul unheated room.
While none of the six children then living in the east-end Toronto house could be said to have had a storybook existence, Jeffrey and his sister were the dirty secrets.
Largely hidden from public view, rarely allowed out of their feces- and urine-stained prison and treated always with contempt, the two predictably withered in every way.
At the time of his death, Jeffrey weighed a pound less than he had as a healthy one-year-old — 21 pounds.
His sister survived largely, it appears, because she had started kindergarten for half-days and received school snacks.
What Mr. Baldwin knew about all this was minimal.
By then, the access he and Ms. Kidman were getting to their own four children was increasingly grudging and limited.
Bottineau would cancel scheduled visits, claiming one or another of the kids was sick, or the young couple would arrive at the house, only to find plans had changed.
That was exactly what happened that fall, Mr. Baldwin said.
Unusually, he and Ms. Kidman were being allowed to have Jeffrey and his sister for the weekend — Bottineau was complaining she was having difficulty coping.
But when he arrived to pick up the kids, Bottineau told him Jeffrey was upstairs in bed, ill. She didn’t want Mr. Baldwin going up there, catching whatever Jeffrey had, then infecting the little girl, who would bring whatever the bug was back into the house.
He left with only his little daughter.
His account of the couple’s two days with one of their own children was wrenching because he was so clearly proud.
At one point, Ms. Witkin asked if the child was verbal yet,
“Oh, she was verbal for a while,” Mr. Baldwin replied with a huge grin. “She’s like her mother.”
First, he said, he gave her “two baths” because she smelled of urine and “threw her clothing away” because it stank.
They took her to their local park, and the next day, though he had to work, Ms. Kidman took the little girl to the restaurant where she then worked, “to show her off.”
These were obvious clues, of course, to something being awry in the house, and Mr. Baldwin wasn’t blind to them.
He was worried, especially so when they had to take the little girl back to the grandparents’ house, and she was inconsolable.
And Jeffrey’s failure to grow gnawed at him.
“He didn’t look very good,” Mr. Baldwin said of the last time he’d seen him. “I questioned her [Bottineau] and she’d say, ‘Oh don’t worry, I’m on top of it. He’ll bounce back.’ ”
But he not only felt powerless, he actually was.
He and Ms. Kidman had started popping out kids when they were teenagers — they had six, one stillborn, the others all ending up with Bottineau and Kidman or in care — and it seemed they could do little right.
The Catholic Children’s Aid Society was first called in by a neighbour about their first-born, who was briefly left alone as a baby while her parents had a fight.
Bottineau offered to look after the little girl and at first it seemed a solution — Mr. Baldwin and Ms. Kidman needed help, Bottineau had the agency’s support, it was going to be temporary.
But it was the beginning of the end for the young couple.
Bottineau, and two of Ms. Kidman’s sisters, slyly campaigned against them getting the little girl — and later, the others — back.
Not until the murder trial, Mr. Baldwin said, did he and Ms. Kidman learn the extent to which Bottineau had undercut their efforts.
As Ms. Witkin put it in her opening statement last week, Bottineau “continued to feed information to the Society about Richard and Yvonne’s shortcomings” behind their backs, so they never really knew what hit them.
The young couple surely had shortcomings: Their relationship was volatile; they were, as Mr. Baldwin said several times, “young and stupid”; they had trouble managing their money (though he has always worked).
So, while he was worried, he didn’t know where to turn.
Why wouldn’t he have called his worker at the agency, Ms. Witkin asked.
“I have hate towards the Catholic Children’s Aid,” he snapped. “[The worker] is the last person I ever want to speak to ever again.”
Later, asked for suggestions that might prevent another death like Jeffrey’s, Mr. Baldwin mused about child-welfare agencies.
“To have so much power and have no one checking on them seems wrong,” he said. “Maybe our government will get smarter and build an organization to police the Children’s Aid.”
Bottineau and Kidman weren’t young and stupid when they were pronounced marvy caregivers by the family courts and two child-welfare agencies and, without criminal record or background checks, given custody of Jeffrey and his siblings.
They were just convicted child abusers with a horrific history.
Mr. Baldwin said he believes if he and Ms. Kidman had received more help and had got their kids back, “I think he’d [Jeffrey] be alive today.”
He rather has a point.
Source: National Post
September 17, 2013 permalink
Yesterday Aaron Alexis killed a dozen people inside the Washington DC Navy Yard. According to the Associated Press, he was being treated for his mental issues. In contemporary medicine the only treatment for mental issues is drugs. This looks like another case in which psychotropic drugs kill,
Officials: Gunman treated for mental health issues
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. law enforcement officials are telling The Associated Press that the Navy contractor identified as the gunman in the mass shootings at the Washington Navy Yard had been suffering a host of serious mental issues, including paranoia and a sleep disorder. He also had been hearing voices in his head, the officials said.
Aaron Alexis, 34, had been treated since August by the Veterans Administration for his mental problems, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the criminal investigation in the case was continuing. The Navy had not declared him mentally unfit, which would have rescinded a security clearance that Alexis had from his earlier time in the Navy Reserves.
Family members told investigators that Alexis was being treated for his mental issues.
Source: Associated Press
Jailed and Deported for Motherhood
September 16, 2013 permalink
An American mother giving birth to a boy in Ireland gets snagged at the intersection of immigration and child protection laws. She spends a year in jail for kidnapping an unrelated child (really her own) and gets deported to Washington while her son is prepared for adoption in the UK. Christopher Booker reports.
Deported, imprisoned and beaten for being a parent
An American woman has suffered a miserable experience after British social workers intervened.
Last Thursday, a crippled American woman in a wheelchair was bundled by six members of prison staff in riot gear into a van at Holloway, where she had been for 21 months. Driven to Heathrow, accompanied by four guards from a firm hired by the UK Border Agency, she was put on an aircraft, to be dumped on the Tarmac in Washington, where she was deprived of her US passport, given no money and left to fend for herself – while her four-year-old son remained miserably in Britain in the care of Barnet council.
Two years ago, social workers had been informed by someone working for a charity that her mildly autistic son, who had been born while she was in Ireland and is an Irish citizen, needed speech therapy. When she disagreed, the social workers made moves for the boy to be taken into care. Before they could obtain the necessary order, however, she escaped with her son to Spain. After the council won its care order, a European Arrest Warrant was issued for her to be returned to London, on the grounds that she had kidnapped someone else’s child.
This arose from the fact that she had lived and worked for a while in London under an assumed name, because she had overstayed her UK visa. Thus, she and her son had different surnames. But this was not the reason given for the arrest warrant, which said only that she was “connected with” the boy, clearly implying that he was not her son. In a Spanish prison she was beaten by prison staff who had been told that the child was not hers.
Back in England, the boy was taken into care and his mother sent to Holloway. In April 2012, she faced a criminal charge of abducting someone else’s child. By the court’s leave, her charge sheet was amended to show a name different from her son’s. She was told by her lawyers that her only hope of seeing him again was to plead guilty. She was ordered to be deported as a criminal after completing 12 months in prison. She tried to lodge appeals, but got nowhere, although she was eventually able to arrange DNA tests, which were only made available after she had served her sentence, and which confirmed that the boy was her son. Pictures taken of him when the tests were carried out showed her once happy, healthy boy looking miserable, lost and ill after a year in foster care.
Last July, as she remained in prison as an “overstayer” while her attempts to appeal continued, her friends found her horribly bruised, crippled and in need of a wheelchair, from what she described as a savage beating by six members of the prison staff, who believed that she had kidnapped someone else’s child. Finally, on Thursday she was deported to Washington, where she has no family, friends or means of support. Her new US passport, bought for her by a friend for £250, was confiscated. Her son remains in foster care and is to be put up for adoption.
Her supporters suggest that the only humane solution to this horrible mess would be to send the boy to live with his mother in America. But that is not how this implacable system works.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
In another article Booker follows up on the story of the hapless mother.
Social workers damn us both ways
The other side of the story is a steep increase in care applications
When our social workers excuse their failings by saying “we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t”, they do not realise that both things are true. The media may have piled in on the story of how they failed to intervene to save little Hamzah Khan, found dead two years after being starved to death by his mother, even though social workers had visited his home and found nothing wrong.
We may have been shocked by the report showing how Birmingham’s social workers “lost sight of” little Keanu Williams, beaten to death by his mother, for which the only excuse offered by the city’s sixth head of children’s services in six years (five were paid more than the Prime Minister), was that his staff were “overworked”.
But almost unnoticed is the other side of the story of what is going on in our “child protection” system, when applications by the same social workers to take children into care have rocketed by 250 per cent in five years.
As I regularly report, just as great a scandal is that far too many of these children are being unhappily removed from their parents for no good reason. The social workers are correctly damned both ways: not just for failing to intervene when they should, but just as much for spending untold hours and billions of pounds a year on busily tearing families apart when there is no real call for it.
One such case I reported here three weeks ago is that of the American mother who on September 15 was dumped in a wheelchair at Washington airport by the UK Border Agency (UKBA), after serving 21 months in Holloway Prison for “abducting” her son to Spain to prevent him being seized on the flimsiest excuse by Barnet social workers.
She had been given £250 by a wellwisher to buy a new US passport. But this was confiscated on her arrival by US immigration officials because she had flown in on a temporary travel document arranged by the UKBA.
What the UKBA had not bothered to arrange were the “reception and rehabilitation” facilities she was promised. She was thus abandoned in her wheelchair at the airport, penniless and without a passport, only to discover that, without any official identification, she could not get access to any of the help with accommodation or food she desperately needed. She cannot even apply for a job.
For three weeks she has been living at the airport, subsisting on the odd charitable gift, at her wits’ end as to where to turn. She cannot obtain the necessary ID without her birth certificate, which has apparently been lost by the London solicitors whose advice to her that she should plead guilty to abducting her son landed her in this plight in the first place.
When I asked the Home Office why the UKBA failed to make those reception and rehabilitation arrangements she was promised, I was told: “We cannot discuss individual cases.” There is certainly no surer way to find yourself damned in Britain today than to fall foul of our utterly dysfunctional “child protection” system.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Addendum: A year later British courts punish friends who try to right the injustice.
Costs ruling in family court penalises those helping wronged parents
'McKenzie Friends' now risk severe financial penalties if their case is lost after a ruling by Mrs Justice Ingrid Simler
Since Sir James Munby stepped up last year to become head of our family courts, he has been making heroic efforts to restore sanity and justice to what had become an indefensibly secretive and dysfunctional system. His latest move, just when cuts in legal aid are forcing ever more parents to represent themselves, aided by unpaid legal advisers or “McKenzie Friends”, has been to issue new guidelines to ensure that this does not leave them seriously disadvantaged against the serried ranks of taxpayer-funded lawyers on the other side. But the latest recruit to his High Court team, Mrs Justice Ingrid Simler, has now issued a ruling that threatens to tilt the scales of justice against such parents more than ever.
Last September I reported the case of an American woman, crippled after being beaten up by staff in Holloway Prison, who was deported by the UK Border Agency, to be left in her wheelchair at Washington airport without money or a passport. She was originally imprisoned for taking her mildly autistic son from foster care, after social workers had removed him because they said he needed speech therapy which she thought unnecessary. Because she and her son had different names, after she changed hers to avoid detection for overstaying her UK visa, she was charged with having abducted someone else’s child, to which her state-funded barrister advised her to plead guilty. Although DNA tests later confirmed that she was the mother, it was this damning false allegation that led to her being beaten up. Photographs of the boy show how, after a year in “care”, her once happy, healthy son now looked lost, miserable and ill.
After being stuck for weeks at Washington airport, sleeping on benches because she had no money or the documents that would have allowed her to apply for accommodation or look for work, the mother was advised by friends in Britain, including Sabine McNeill and Belinda McKenzie, who run the Association of McKenzie Friends, to apply for a judicial review of her case, which an experienced lawyer told them was full of legal irregularities. Unable to return to the UK without a passport, she drafted a statement with the help of her advisers, which they presented to the High Court in December. A judge adjourned the hearing for them to “validate” their right to speak for her.
This month, however, when none of them could be present, Mrs Justice Simler ruled not just that their case was “totally without merit” but that the lay advisers were now considered to be “parties to the case”, and must pay more than £4,000 in court costs. They would have a chance to challenge this, but were told that, if the court found against them, their costs would be even higher. In effect, the judge was sending a warning to all such lay advisers that, by offering help to litigants, they now risk severe financial penalties if their case is lost. As John Hemming MP recognises, “if lay advisors are to be threatened with hefty costs merely for helping victims of a miscarriage of justice, then the rule of law is under threat”. This ruling appears so flatly to counter Lord Justice Munby’s latest attempt to achieve a fairer balance between lawyers paid by the state and those “McKenzie Friends” that it would be very interesting to know his view.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Lawyer Wants to Shoot Social Worker
September 16, 2013 permalink
When Vancouver lawyer Stanley Foo met a social worker identified only as AM in the courthouse lobby he said: "I’m going to shoot you," and "You take away too many kids." The law society has taken action against Mr Foo. Comments from clients on Facebook suggest the real reason: he is good at defending families from MCFD.
Vancouver lawyer’s comments to social worker amount to professional misconduct, says Law Society of B.C.
A Vancouver lawyer who told a government social worker that he should shoot her because she apprehends too many children has been found to have committed professional misconduct.
Stanley Foo, who was called to the bar in B.C. in 1995, made the comments outside a Quesnel courtroom to the social worker, who is identified only by the initials A.M. in a decision of the Law Society of B.C.
According to a law society statement from A.M., she was walking down the stairs when she heard her name and turned to see Foo.
When Foo asked her if she was the social worker, she replied that she was.
“And he just looked at me and said, ‘I’m going to shoot you,’ and I kind of looked at my colleague that was standing beside me and I said, ‘Pardon me? What are you saying?’ And he said, ‘You take away too many kids.’ And I said, ‘Oh really?’ and I walked away. And that was the end of the conversation.”
A.M. told the society that she was “shocked” because she was not used to having to deal with lawyers in such a manner.
The September 2011 incident happened in a crowded area outside a courtroom on a busy day of dealing with family law cases.
Foo told the society that he did not know A.M. at all until the conversation, and that the two of them were making light conversation and that A.M. laughed.
He said that he didn’t remember exactly what he said, but he had been joking and had no intention to threaten or harm her.
Foo added that A.M. was not afraid of him and he did not have a gun or a knife and that social workers have no reason to fear him.
The lawyer said he was a “bombastic guy” and he had made spontaneous comments to A.M.
He told the society that making a joke, even in bad taste or poorly worded, is behaviour that is not a marked departure from the conduct the society expects of its members.
But a panel of the law society found that while Foo thought his comments were spontaneous and a joke, he must take resonsibility for his words and exercise more restraint.
“Even though his honest belief was that social workers take away too many children, he expressed his views inappropriately considering the context,” said the panel.
“The respondent does not seem to understand that, in the context of a waiting area outside of a courtroom on a busy day, when speaking to a person he believed he had no prior or current dealings with, it was inappropriate to identify her by name and occupation ... and to say he should shoot her and that she takes away too many kids.”
The decision notes that A.M. reported the incident to the RCMP but that police did not press charges or interview Foo regarding the incident.
A hearing to determine the appropriate disciplinary action for Foo will be held at a later date. Foo could not be reached.
Source: The Province
Family Sues CAS
September 15, 2013 permalink
Highland Shores CAS is being sued for $14.5 million by a family receiving "services".
$14.5 million lawsuit filed against Highland Shores Children’s Aid
A $14.5 million lawsuit has been filed against the Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society based in Belleville.
Jeffrey Kingston filed the statement of claim in Belleville court August 30th.
The 16-page document alleges illegal seizure of his children in 2012, along with mistreatment of his children while in foster care, unprofessional conduct by the society.
The lawsuit is looking for money for pain and suffering, emotional and mental stress, human rights violations, defamation of character and misfeasance by authorities.
None of the accusations have been proven in court. The society was given 20 days to bring forth a statement of defence.
Source: Quinte News
Addendum: Here is the statement of claim (pdf). Among the accusations, the foster mother addressed one of the children as "dipshit" and restricted baths to two per week. When ordered to disclose the case file to the family, CAS tried to get the family to first sign an undertaking. When provided, the disclosure omitted 427 pages but included documents for another family's case.
September 15, 2013 permalink
In a five-part series Reuters exposes a previously hidden side of adoption — a practice known as re-homing. Families exasperated by adoptive children find new parents through internet boards, then hand over with private custody documents or powers of attorney. No social services agencies are involved in the transfer.
The articles focus on one re-homing mother, Nicole Eason, also known by her screen name Big Momma. Together with her husband Calvin Eason or her temporary partner Randy Winslow she was the recipient of all but one of the re-homed children in the series. The children were placed in decrepit accommodation and used as sex-toys. There is no statistical information in the series, so we don't learn whether Eason is a one-of-a-kind rogue parent, or whether child abuse is widespread after re-homing. One story gives a reason why parents resort to the internet to find a new family: a previous bad experience with social services.
Sad to say, the series looks like the start of a new power-grab by social services. In many places it suggests strengthening laws and more oversight by social services. One suggestion never made is to leave more children with their real families. None of the families placing children for re-homing were the natural parents or relatives.
Addendum: Russia sticks up for its children adopted in the US.
Russia Slams US For Poor Protection of Children’s Rights
MOSCOW, September 14 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Foreign Ministry has sharply criticized the US authorities for lacking efforts to protect the rights of foreign-born children adopted by US foster parents, including at least 26 adoptees from Russia.
Reuters reported earlier this week that some US foster parents, who regretted adopting children from abroad, were using social networks to find new homes for their adoptees in a practice known as “private re-homing.”
The practice involves informal custody transfers to bypass the monitoring by child welfare officials and exposes enormous potential for abuse and exploitation of the adopted children, an 18-month investigation by Reuters reporters concluded.
“We are calling on the US authorities to pay close attention to this information and conduct an appropriate investigation into the facts of gross violation of children's rights that have been uncovered,” the ministry’s point man for human rights, Konstantin Dolgov, said in a statement Friday.
“We believe that the matter is not about individual cases but a serious systemic problem showing that children's rights in the US are not protected properly,” Dolgov said.
The Russian official also urged authorized US official bodies to clarify the fate of 26 Russian children “who have fallen victim to the US Internet-exchange of adoptees.”
The instances of American families allegedly abusing their adopted Russian children have strained relations between the two countries and, in part, prompted Russia to adopt the so-called Dima Yakovlev Law – a broad legislative act targeting US officials suspected of human rights violations but also banning all adoptions of Russian children by US citizens.
Source: RIA Novosti
... as does China.
China adoption agency furious over 'child exchange' report
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's adoption agency said it was "very shocked and furious" about the findings in a Reuters report that exposed how U.S. parents use the Internet to abandon unwanted children they have adopted from abroad, including China.
A five-part Reuters investigation published this month found
parents used message boards and forums on Yahoo and Facebook to send their unwanted children to virtual strangers with little or no government scrutiny, sometimes illegally.
"As to the report that refers to American families who are using the Internet to relocate children they have adopted and aren't willing to continue raising, we are very shocked and furious," the state-backed China Centre for Children's Welfare and Adoption said in a faxed statement to Reuters late on Tuesday. The center was responding to a query from Reuters.
"This is an irresponsible act."
The Chinese adoption center, commissioned by the government to govern overseas adoptions, said it "attaches great importance" to the Reuters report.
The adoption agency said it is concerned about the lack of U.S. government regulation that was revealed in the series and will arrange to hold discussions with "relevant agencies" in the United States.
The adoption agency said it requires families who have adopted Chinese children to provide feedback six times a year in the first five years of adoption. It now plans to demand feedback until the child turns 18.
In the series called "The Child Exchange" Reuters analyzed 5,029 posts from a five-year period on a Yahoo message board. On average, a child was advertised on the site once a week in a practice called "re-homing". Most of the children ranged in age from 6 to 14 and had been adopted from countries such as Russia and China, Ethiopia and Ukraine.
Highland Shores Meeting
September 14, 2013 permalink
Highland Shores CAS held its first annual general meeting on Thursday. A news article and a comment by Curtis Kingston are enclosed.
Children's Aid Society: Finances and checkered past
An embattled County child welfare agency is healthier financially and making headway in its bid to restore trust in the wake of a child abuse firestorm, its executive director says.
Bringing the scandal-ravaged Prince Edward County Children's Aid Society back into legislative compliance is just a small fraction of the work being done to close the many child care gaps identified in the county, Mark Kartusch said.
Though “ending the year with a balanced budget,” Kartusch said Highland Shores is bracing for financial challenges that will come in the form of government funding reductions totalling $4.5 million over five years.
“As we make improvements we're able to manage some of those cuts,” he said. “Next year and year after, I'm not sure if that cut is going to be bigger than what we can accommodate in the change.”
Prince Edward CAS is healthier now, since its April 1 amalgamation under the Highland Shores CAS umbrella, than it was as a standalone agency, Kartusch said Thursday at the Belleville Highland Shores headquarters, during the first annual general meeting of the consolidated agency.
“I think the organization as a whole is healthier,” he said. “We're in a better shape now with all three societies now amalgamated. We have been able to be a little bit more financially nimble.”
He acknowledged that the lives of the abused children will be “forever impacted” by the actions of several former foster parents convicted of sex crimes in connection with the defiling of youth entrusted in their care.
“Some of our youth are struggling and some are real angry at us for very good reason,” he said.
Combing through files to ensure compliance, staff changes and community meetings are among the work being done to restore the shaken trust as the overall structural amalgamation continues, he said.
“We continue that rebuilding,” he said. “I think we're on the right track.”
As work on the amalgamation finishes, the society will also face another major project as it participates in the implementation of the province-wide Child Protection Information Network, or CPIN. Highland Shores is one of 14 early adopter agencies with an implementation date of early June, 2014.
It will give Highland Shores the ability to help weed out potential foster parents who are unsuitable for child welfare service participation, “improving safety of children,” he said.
In Prince Edward, some of the court cases involving former parents are now moving through the courts.
As some of the cases for the aforementioned former foster parents facing sex crime charges continue to stream through the courts, Kartusch is not aware of any ongoing investigations which could trigger fresh charges.
“This was known and part of the whole group of homes,” he said. “The legal process is just winding it's way through the courts. This is not new.”
Also present at Thursday's meeting was one of the young women who lived in the Bloomfield home of a 73-year-old man who was convicted with sexually assaulting two girls. She said she met with Kartusch to talk about lingering issues from her time at the home and question what's being done to improve things in the county
“I wanted to hear what he had to say,” she said about her attendance Thursday. “I wanted to address that they're not doing there job right and I wanted to know if they were going to make it better in the future for these victims.”
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
Here is an article on the Highland Shores CAS Annual General Meeting that took place this evening. This article is decently written and basically explains what happened at the meeting. But on the other hand what they don't mention is the fact that the speakers at the meeting including Mark Kartusch and Darcy French did nothing but lie through their teeth about almost every issue that was on the agenda but that is to be expected.
They also presented the JJ Kelso award to a worker that knowingly went against the law and instructed CAS workers to apprehend three children just hours after a warrant request was denied!
I am also impressed that the Intelligencer reporter did mention the fact that one of the victims from the recent PECCAS sexual abuse cases was in attendance and he made clear what her opinion was.
To this very special person who I still cannot name due to publication ban, you did amazingly well and you are the strongest person I know. The fact that you were able to sit through all of that propaganda bullshit and not punch somebody in the face just shows your true strength and I am more than proud of you
Source: Facebook, Curtis Kingston
Foster Boy Attacks Social Worker
September 13, 2013 permalink
When that nasty Indiana social worker came to bother him, Isaac Miller knew how to get back. He tried to rape her.
South Bend man charged in attempted rape
A 19-year-old South Bend man was charged with multiple felonies and a misdemeanor after an incident with a Department of Child Services worker earlier this week.
Isaac Miller was charged on Friday with attempted rape, criminal confinement, battery, strangulation, interference with reporting a crime and sexual battery. Probably cause was found for 4 of those charges.
Police say that on Tuesday, September 10, Miller held a Department of Child services caseworker at knife point in his apartment on West Flint Court, after the caseworker became uncomfortable and tried to leave the apartment. Police say Miller allegedly forced the caseworker into the bathroom, removed her clothing, strangled her and attempted to rape her. Police say that when the caseworker tried to call 911, Miller allegedly broke her phone. Eventually, the caseworker was able to get away by running out of the house to get help.
Miller is set to be in court on Monday, September 16th.
Source: WSJV-TV FOX 28
Social Worker Pregnant with Cocaine
September 13, 2013 permalink
Ontario social worker Tabitha Leah Ritchie tried to smuggle cocaine in her fake baby bump. Here is a local copy (mp4) of the accompanying video.
‘Pregnant’ Canadian allegedly used rubber belly allegedly carried drugs
A London, Ont., woman allegedly feigned pregnancy to hide two kilos of Colombian cocaine in a rubber belly.
In a novel drug-trafficking scheme described by Colombian officials, an Ontario woman allegedly faked a pregnancy and hid two kilograms of cocaine in a fake rubber belly to evade detection.
Tabitha Leah Ritchie, 28, of London, was arrested by anti-narcotics police at the Eldorado Airport in Bogota, Colombia, while trying to board a Toronto-bound Air Canada flight Wednesday afternoon.
“The Canadian citizen insisted that she had seven months of gestation and she behaved quite aggressively,” said Col. Esteban Arias Melo, assistant director of Anti-Narcotics of the Colombian National Police.
“Her pregnant state was based on a well-made ‘latex belly,’ easily affixed to her back,” he alleged.
According to Arias, Ritchie was intercepted by uniformed personnel who noticed her advanced state of pregnancy and asked when she was due.
He said the woman expressed disgust at the question, which prompted the female officer’s curiosity. The officer sent the woman for further inspection after touching her belly and finding it “too hard and extremely cold.”
Officials said they subsequently found two sealed bags of cocaine, worth US$60,000, hidden under the woman’s fake belly.
Arias said Ritchie, who entered Colombia on Aug. 6, was a social worker by profession.
However, her name did not appear in the Ontario College of Social Workers’ membership directory.
Ritchie, who is charged with trafficking, carriage and fabrication of narcotics, could face a jail sentence of five to eight years in Colombia if found guilty.
To date in 2013, Colombian officials said 238 people have been arrested on charges of trafficking narcotics through the country’s international air terminals, including 94 foreigners.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada confirmed that it is providing consular services to Ritchie in Colombia.
Source: Toronto Star
Addendum: Ritchie also keeps illegal firearms at home.
Detained in Colombia, Tabitha Ritchie faces firearms charges at home
You’d think getting busted in Colombia with a fake pregnant belly, full of cocaine, would be enough trouble for one woman.
But it turns out accused London drug mule, Tabitha Ritchie, also has some issues piled on her plate at home.
Only trouble is, the 28-year-old social worker and university student was a no-show Tuesday in court in London, when the homegrown firearms charges against her came up.
Ritchie is co-charged with an ex-boyfriend for three offences — possession of a shotgun without a licence, careless storage of ammo and having a loaded, restricted firearm.
As lawyer Jason Skinner put it, his client “finds herself in custody in South America” with “no chance of returning in the foreseeable future.”
Skinner had been expected to argue his client’s rights under the Charter of Rights had been violated, but with Ritchie detained behind bars in South America that never happened.
Trevor Hernandez, 22, Ritchie’s co-accused, who’s also charged with violating a ban slapped on him not to have firearms, was brought into court with hopes of setting a trial date.
The joint charges against Ritchie and Hernandez date back to last November.
Ritchie made international headlines weeks ago, when anti-narcotics officers at the Bogota airport in Colombia found two kilograms of cocaine hidden behind a pocket of latex in a fake pregnant belly. Ritchie was arrested as a suspected drug mule, or smuggler.
She was trying to board an Air Canada flight to Toronto when she was searched and detained.
Hernandez’s lawyer, Rob Kitto, said he’s anxious to move ahead with his client’s case since he’s in custody.
But nothing can happen until Skinner gets instructions from Ritchie.
A new trial date for Hernandez is likely to be confirmed Oct. 8.
Source: London Free Press
Foster White Slavery
September 12, 2013 permalink
In this twenty-year-old item James A Bunch, an employee of the Texas Department of Human Services committed suicide after he was found using state resources to operate a prostitution business. His department was responsible for foster children. Speculation on the internet (not in the news article) is that foster children were the prostitutes.
Texas Officials Investigate Death of Prostitution Ring Suspect
AUSTIN, Tex. — A state employee who was fired this week after being accused of running a prostitution ring from his office was found shot to death Friday, apparently from a self-inflicted wound, police said.
James A. Bunch, 46, who had worked for 23 years at the Department of Human Services, was found in a parking lot near his office. He had been fired Tuesday after being arrested on charges of aggravated promotion of prostitution, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The arrest had set off intense speculation in the state capital about the 400 or so clients of Aimes Escorts whose names and sexual preferences were listed on index cards seized by police. Authorities said Bunch ran the business for two years by using a state computer and telephone.
Police confirmed that a state legislator was among the clients listed, but declined to identify the occupations of others.
Bunch was interrogated after his arrest but did not appear to be distraught or suicidal, Deputy Chief Ken Williams said.
"It's been my experience that when people . . . take their own lives, many times they do it in an area that is familiar to them, whether that be their home or their business," Police Lt. David Parkinson said.
The apparent suicide left his co-workers shaken.
"All of our staff is still in a state of shock about the whole incident," said Mike Jones, an agency spokesman. "We are just an agency of about 17,000 people and most of us come to work every morning and just do our jobs."
Bunch had said Thursday that the case had been exaggerated.
"I want to cooperate," he told the Associated Press. "I want to help. But you need to talk with my attorney. I'm sorry I can't help more."
Police said they found a .38-caliber pistol near Bunch's body and some "written material," which they declined to release, in his truck.
Parkinson said an employee arriving for work found Bunch's body just after 7 a.m. in a remote part of the agency's parking lot.
Source: Los Angeles Times
Sex Abuse Moral Panic Questioned
September 11, 2013 permalink
The internet is abuzz with reaction to an article on Richard Dawkins in the (London) Times Magazine. Mr Dawkins belittles the moral panic against childhood sexual abuse. The article closes with some quotes from his own writing on the effects, or harmlessness, of sexual abuse in his own childhood. Trifling incidents of sexuality are today a pretext for social workers to remove children from their families. The original Times article is blocked by a paywall, but Mr Dawkins copied it to his own site (enclosed).
The world according to Richard Dawkins
The scientist and Selfish Gene author talks to Giles Whittell about his new memoir, his childhood abuse – and what it’s like for an atheist to be labelled a fundamentalist
It feels a bit creepy to be counting pictures in Richard Dawkins’ downstairs loo, but evidence is evidence. Most of the pictures are actually awards, but it’s the number that counts: 21 honorary doctorates and international prizes, framed and hung along with a certificate from the 2008 Crufts dog show.
The dogs are around somewhere; we can hear them yapping. The loo gives onto a generous hallway, from where Britain’s top atheist leads the way through his sitting room and an enormous kitchen onto a terrace partly occupied by a two-tonne limestone picnic table hewn specially for him from Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. It’s pitted with hundreds of tiny fossils. We haven’t been shown the indoor swimming pool, but it’s there behind us in a long, low outbuilding.
It’s easy to envy Dawkins, as long as you have a thick skin and don’t believe in an afterlife. His gentler critics include the former Chief Rabbi and Professor Peter Higgs, of Higgs boson fame, and he has plenty of enemies (he added a few hundred thousand earlier this month by tweeting that Trinity College, Cambridge, had more Nobel prizewinners than all the world’s Muslims). But he has a huge and devoted following, too. He’s written 12 books including two epoch-making bestsellers. He has his large North Oxford home. He is a leading evolutionary biologist, a decent electronic clarinettist and a public intellectual in demand from Tokyo to Tennessee.
He hasn’t won a Nobel prize himself, but, as we sit at the Jurassic slab in glorious sunshine, he generously argues that several of his peers deserve one for books on science far less widely read than his own.
This is important, because one scientist whom Dawkins commends to the Nobel committee is Steven Pinker of Harvard University. Pinker’s book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, explains the decline of violence in human society partly in terms of what Dawkins calls our “shifting moral zeitgeist”. Apparently, this means we’re less beastly than we used to be because we disapprove of beastliness more than we used to.
Dawkins is fascinated by the way today’s transgressions might have been viewed differently not long ago. For instance, as a junior academic he went to the University of California at Berkeley for two years in the late Sixties, which gave him a ringside seat at the Summer of Love. He relates one vivid memory in his new memoir, An Appetite for Wonder:
“I was walking along Telegraph Avenue, axis of Berkeley’s beads-incense-and-marijuana culture. A young man was walking ahead of me, dressed in the insignia of the flower-power generation. Every time a young woman passed him, walking in the opposite direction, he would reach out and tweak one of her breasts. Far from slapping him, or crying, ‘Harassment!’, she would simply walk on by as if nothing had happened… Today I find this almost impossible to believe.”
He says he’s pleased how things have changed on the harassment front in the past 40 years. But on other occasions when that shifting moral zeitgeist rears its head – as boys, including him, are molested or beaten at his various boarding schools, for instance – he fails to be outraged. One master at his public school, Oundle, he writes, “was prone to fall in love with the prettier boys. He never, as far as we knew, went any further than to put an arm around them in class and make suggestive remarks, but nowadays that would probably be enough to land him in terrible trouble with the police – and tabloid-inflamed vigilantes.”
Is he guilty of rationalising bad stuff just because it’s past? “I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild paedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today.”
The mention of paedophilia inevitably brings us to the recent run of arrests of old white men accused of child sex abuse, starting with Jimmy Savile. Has the moral zeitgeist been shifting at their expense? “I think we should acknowledge it. That’s one point… But the other point is that because the most notorious cases of paedophilia involve rape and even murder, and because we attach the label ‘paedophilia’ to the same things when they’re just mild touching up, we must beware of lumping all paedophiles into the same bracket.”
So is there a risk of a metaphorical lynching of well-known people as soon as they’re accused? “I think there is a risk of that.”
What about the child sex abuse scandals that have led to anguished soul-searching and multibillion-dollar payouts in various outposts of Christianity? “Same thing,” he says. “Although I’m no friend of the Church, I think they have become victims of our shifting standards and we do need to apply the conventions of the good historian in dealing with cases which are many decades old.”
In the book, Dawkins mentions one occasion when a teacher put a hand down his trousers at a prep school in Salisbury, and four others at Oundle, when he “had to fend off nocturnal visits to my bed from senior boys much larger and stronger than I was”. The Oundle incidents don’t seem to have bothered him. The prep school one did, but he still can’t bring himself to condemn it, partly because the kind of comparison his adult mind deploys is with the mass murders carried out by Genghis Khan in the 12th century. “Without condoning what was done, at least try to put on the goggles of the period and see it through those eyes,” he says. “I find it much harder to put on those goggles where we’re talking about the monstrous cruelty that went on in past times. It’s hard to think of that and to forgive using modern standards in the same way as it might be for the schoolmaster who touched me up but didn’t actually do me any physical violence.”
It was a rare dark moment in a rather special childhood. His earliest years were spent in rugged bliss in southern Africa, where his father was a colonial servant. The trauma of moving to England in a converted troop ship and living with grandparents who forced him to say, “Good morning,” at breakfast briefly gave him a stammer. At 13 he became “intensely religious” and was confirmed into the Church of England. At 17, having learnt about other religions, he became “militantly anti-religious”, and has been ever since.
He was shy but pretty. Hence the unwanted advances at Oundle. Hence, too, a long delay before properly discovering girls, but when that happened it happened in style. “I didn’t finally lose my virginity until much later [aged 22],” he writes, “to a sweet cellist in London, who removed her skirt in order to play to me in her bedsitter (you can’t play the cello in a tight skirt) – and then removed everything else.”
The book is charming, and full of careful translations of phrases such as “public school” for American readers. Is it, then, a charm offensive aimed at those he may have offended down the years? He admits the thought occurred to him, but only once he’d finished it. At this point another thought occurred to him: “Hey! Wait a minute! Maybe I’m not so strident and shrill as people thought I was.”
In his back garden, he isn’t strident or shrill at all, but then he doesn’t have to be. It wasn’t the same when he used to tour the world doing live public debates with creationists, whom he found had to be demolished without mercy if the audience was to be prevented from getting the impression they were witnessing a genuine argument. Nor can he seem to avoid stridency on Twitter (795,000 followers in three months) or in panel discussions. In one such talk, which has been viewed more than a quarter of a million times on YouTube, Neil deGrasse Tyson, a distinguished American astrophysicist, wondered if Dawkins’ “articulately barbed” attacks on superstition in all its forms was not sometimes counterproductive. Dawkins replied with an approving homage to a former editor of New Scientist who once told an interviewer, “Our philosophy is this: science is interesting, and if you don’t agree you can f*** off.”
The only time he gets remotely worked up with The Times is when asked for his response to a suggestion by Professor Higgs that he, Dawkins, is “almost a fundamentalist”. Higgs (who probably will get a Nobel now that CERN has discovered his boson) made the remark to a Spanish newspaper last December. Dawkins is naturally aware of this.
“[Higgs] is obviously a great physicist and I admire him very much,” he says. You sense a “but” coming. Instead he muses that “it’s very easy to be goaded into calling somebody a fundamentalist,” especially when you may not have read that person’s books. Not that there would be any reason for Higgs to have read any of his books; merely that “It’s almost part of the folklore that I’m an extremist fundamentalist, and people who’ve actually met me or read my books tend not to say that.”
Perhaps the criticism is more that Dawkins seems to feel a compulsion to change believers’ minds. Why not leave people to believe what they want to believe? “Well, of course they can believe what they want to believe! They just don’t have to read my books, that’s all.”
Dawkins’ beef with religion is well known; the degrees of contempt he feels for different creeds and religious ideas are less so. Nowadays, creationists elicit weary despair from him at best. He no longer holds debates with them, on the advice of the late Stephen Jay Gould, another mass-market evolutionary biologist. “The moment you accept their invitation, they’ve won,” he recalls Gould telling him, “because that’s what they want, the oxygen of respectability, to be seen on a platform with a real scientist.” He points out that for similar reasons a gynaecologist probably wouldn’t hold a debate with a believer in the stork theory of reproduction.
The Church of England gets off lightly. It was the C of E that embraced him during his adolescent religious crush; the C of E whose hymns he sang as a choirboy until his voice broke; and the C of E whose former senior primate, Archbishop Rowan Williams, he has met several times and cannot bring himself to diss. On the contrary, he says, “I think he’s a lovely man, extremely kind, intelligent and nice. I’m just baffled by his entire belief system.”
The Old Testament, to Dawkins, is just as baffling, only worse, and herein lies a problem for Dawkins’ relations with those who hold it dear. Chapter Two of The God Delusion, his biggest volume of religion-bashing, begins: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser,” and goes on in that vein. Last year Lord Sacks, still Chief Rabbi at the time, called the passage “profoundly anti-Semitic”. Dawkins stood by it but said it was basically a joke. Lord Sacks still didn’t get it.
Now Dawkins says of Sacks: “He’s such a nice man that I don’t want to hurl brickbats at him, but he seemed to say that because I had attacked God, that was anti-Semitic, as though God’s a Jew. And I’ve had that from other Jews as well.” To the complaint that Dawkins singles out the God of the Old Testament for harsher treatment than the God of the New Testament, he replies brightly: “That’s right, and the God of the Old Testament is nastier than the God of the New Testament. It’s one of the things that Christians never tire of telling us.”
Isn’t this therefore a “Christian atheist” as opposed to a “Jewish atheist” view, as Sacks complained? “There’s probably something in that, yes… My C of E upbringing probably does show through.”
And that, dear reader, is a rare concession from Oxford’s former Professor for the Public Understanding of Science. He then comes close to making another on the subject of Mormons, whose scripture he says at first is “recent nonsense and therefore somehow more reprehensible than that which has a certain amount of age”. But what does the age of nonsense have to do with its reprehensibility? That sounds rum. “It does, doesn’t it?” he mutters, but it doesn’t make much difference.
Soon he’s off again, repeating an argument that he made often during last year’s White House run by the Mormon Mitt Romney, that the founder of Mormonism was a “19th-century charlatan” and that anyone who believed him was a fool. As for Dawkins on Islam, the tweet on Nobel prizes gives you the flavour of his more printable views.
He is friendly with that other big-tweeting humanist, Stephen Fry, and was close to Christopher Hitchens, speaking through tears at his funeral. He has recently been called “the worst kind of zealot” by the American Muslim academic Reza Aslan; and a case study in how not to talk about religion, by Daniel Trilling, the editor of New Humanist.
You wouldn’t know any of this from his autobiography; nor does he seem like a zealot across the corner of his picnic table. Maybe this is because he’s not being goaded. He’s patient and, on the whole, obliging. Does he have any advice for Prince George? “Think for yourself. Reach your own conclusions by looking at the evidence.” He adds: “If you end up being an atheist, that would be very interesting for the Church of England.”
Would he care to explain how he came to be married three times? He would not. He will reveal that his one daughter, Juliet, is a doctor in Cambridge, but he won’t talk about his first wife, Marian Stamp, who went with him to Berkeley and is Professor of Animal Behaviour at Oxford; nor his second, Eve Barham, Juliet’s mother, from whom he divorced acrimoniously in 1999; nor his third, the writer and actress Lalla Ward, formerly married to Tom “Dr Who” Baker, whom he met through their mutual friend Douglas Adams, cult hero and creator ofThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Last year he took an expensive trip to the Antarctic, but otherwise he can’t remember taking a holiday at all. He has been a publishing phenomenon ever since producing The Selfish Gene in 1976, aged 35, popularising the idea that our bodies are mere “survival machines” for our genes.
Since then the honorary doctorates have been piling up, and, with them, one recurring regret: “I wasted my time at school,” he says. “I envy my teenage self the opportunities he had and didn’t take advantage of, and sort of think, ‘You little idiot, why didn’t you pay more attention and join the astronomy club?’”
What could he have done that he hasn’t?
“I could know a lot more mathematics than I do. I could be a lot better linguist than I am. I could have read a lot more books than I have.”
The author of The Selfish Gene has been called a selfish genius, and even a source of theoretical underpinning for Thatcherism. That idea is nonsense – it’s genes that are quintessentially selfish, as he has shown, not humans. Even so, it may be significant that if there is an inner void, he wishes he had filled it with self-improvement rather than good works.
Not that he’s done yet. A blood pressure cuff and pill dispenser in his office indicate that he takes seriously the maintenance of his genes’ survival machine. He has volume two of the autobiography to write, and may get round to writing a letter to those Nobel people on behalf of those he most admires.
But you know how that would be reported, I say. “Britain’s greatest living science writer in desperate bid…” That sort of thing.
“Ah, well.” He sighs. “I am actually more humble than I’m sometimes given credit for.” And a bit less worldly, too.
Times+ members can attend a Q&A with Richard Dawkins on September 11 at Cadogan Hall, London. Buy tickets for £10 atmytimesplus.co.uk
‘I didn’t lift a finger to stop the grotesque bullying’
Exclusive extract from Richard Dawkins’ new memoir
Much of the apparent bullying [at Chafyn Grove prep school] was pure braggadocio, futile threats whose emptiness was attested by their invocation of an indefinite future: ‘“Right! That does it. I’m putting you on my beating-up list” was about as nebulous a threat as “You’ll go to hell when you die” (though, alas, not everybody treats the latter threat as nebulous).
But there was real bullying too, the especially unkind form of bullying where gangs of sycophantic henchmen rally around a bullying leader, courting his approval. [The victim] was a precociously brilliant scholar, large, clumsy and ungainly, with an unharmonious, prematurely breaking voice and few friends. He was an unfortunate misfit, an ugly duckling doubtless destined for swanhood, who should have aroused compassion, and would have done in any decent environment – but not in the Goldingesque jungle of the playground. There was even a gang bearing his name, the “anti- –––– gang”, the sole purpose of which was to make his life a misery. Yet his only crime was to be awkward and gangling, too uncoordinated to catch a ball, unable to run except with a graceless staggering gait – and very, very clever.
I cannot even begin to imagine how human beings could be so cruel, but to a greater or lesser extent we were, if only through failing to stop it. How could we be so devoid of empathy? I didn’t lift a finger to stop the grotesque bullying. I think this was partly due to a desire to remain popular with dominant and popular individuals. It is a hallmark of the successful bully to have a posse of loyal lieutenants, and again we see this brutally manifested in the verbal cruelty and bullying that has become epidemic on internet forums, where the abusers have the additional protection of anonymity. But I don’t recall feeling even secret pity for the victim of the bullying at Chafyn Grove.
How is that possible? These contradictions trouble me to this day, together with a strong feeling of retrospective guilt. I am struggling to reconcile the child with the adult that he became; and the same struggle, I suspect, arises with most people. This is no place for a philosophical disquisition, so I will content myself with the observation that continuity of memory makes me feel as though my identity has remained continuous during my whole life, while I simultaneously feel incredulous that I am the same person as the young empathy-failure.
I was also a games-failure, but the school had a squash court and I became obsessed with squash. I didn’t really enjoy trying to win against an opponent. I just liked knocking the ball against the wall by myself, seeing how long I could keep going. I had squash withdrawal symptoms during the school holidays – missed the echoing sound as ball hit wall, and the smell of black rubber – and I kept dreaming of ways in which I might improvise a squash court somewhere on the farm, perhaps in a deserted pig sty.
Back at Chafyn Grove I would watch games of squash from the gallery, waiting for the game to end so I could slip down and practise by myself. One day – I must have been about 11 – there was a master in the gallery with me. He pulled me onto his knee and put his hand inside my shorts. He did no more than have a little feel, but it was extremely disagreeable (the cremasteric reflex is not painful, but in a skin-crawling, creepy way it is almost worse than painful) as well as embarrassing. As soon as I could wriggle off his lap, I ran to tell my friends, many of whom had had the same experience with him. I don’t think he did any of us any lasting damage, but some years later he killed himself. The atmosphere at morning prayers told us that something was up even before [the headmaster] Gallows made his grim announcement, and one of the woman teachers was crying. Many years later in Oxford, a large bishop sat next to me at high table in New College. I recognised his name. He had been the (ah me, much smaller then) curate at St Mark’s church, to which Chafyn Grove marched in crocodile for matins every Sunday, and he was evidently in touch with the gossip. He told me that the same woman teacher had been hopelessly in love with the paedophile master who had killed himself. None of us had ever guessed.
Source: Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
Mennonites Prosecuted for Parenthood
September 11, 2013 permalink
One of the teenagers seized in a whole-village grab from Mennonites in Westbourne Manitoba has escaped. He took up residence with two Mennonite women in Yorkton Saskatchewan. Police have have arrested the women and a non-Mennonite friend charged with helping them. Canada is diverting resources from protection against terrorism to prosecuting pacifist Mennonites.
Twist in case of seized children
Three charged after missing teen found
BRANDON -- A case in which dozens of Old Order Mennonite children were apprehended from their Manitoba community over allegations of abuse has taken a dramatic twist.
Two Mennonite women who went on the run and a Manitoba man, described as a friend of the community, stand accused of abduction after being found with a teen who ran away from his foster placement.
Crown attorney Rich Lonstrup said the allegations stem from a bigger plan by the accused to undermine the abuse case and force Child and Family Services to return the children to their parents.
"There is clearly an effort here to interfere with the children in care," Lonstrup told Brandon provincial court on Monday during a bail hearing for one of the accused.
The accused, and the Mennonite community involved, can't be named in order to protect the identity of the children in the ongoing abuse case.
The two women, aged 24 and 22, and the 72-year-old man appeared in a southern Manitoba courtroom on Monday. The women remain in custody pending their next court appearance on Thursday, and the man was granted bail and given a next court date of Sept. 23.
Each is charged with abduction, forcible confinement, obstructing justice and an offence under the Child and Family Services Act. The women also face assault charges in relation to the initial abuse allegations.
Lonstrup described how police first began an investigation in the summer of 2012 into allegations of widespread sexual abuse at the Old Order Mennonite community. The allegations involved a number of children and their parents.
Lonstrup said police determined the allegations of sexual abuse were unfounded. But during that investigation it was discovered many of the adults in the community had allegedly used physical abuse to solicit false allegations of sexual abuse from the children. The scope of the abuse involved almost every family in the community, and CFS apprehended every child under the age of 18 years.
In June, police arrested Mennonite adults accused of physical abuse. At last report, their number totalled 13. The two female accused in question couldn't be found, and Manitoba-wide warrants were issued for their arrest.
The man accused of abduction and obstruction is not a member of the Mennonite community but was considered a trusted friend. He provided a home to two of the Mennonite men who were later charged in connection with the alleged abuse when they were released on bail orders that forbid them from being at the community.
On Jan. 21, one of the apprehended girls went missing from her foster home at the community. Police investigated and the girl was returned by the man, who said he'd driven her to Winnipeg to see a lawyer. He wasn't charged.
Then, on May 26, two other children went missing from their foster placements near Winkler. They were found at the Mennonite community the next day and said they ran away from their foster home and were driven back to their community by the man. Again, it appears no charges were laid.
The man's charges relate to a 13-year-old boy who went missing from his foster placement at the Mennonite community in late May.
The teen was found in a home near Yorkton, Sask., on Thursday with the two fugitive Mennonite women.
-- Brandon Sun
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Defense Against Social Worker
September 11, 2013 permalink
When a social worker came to seize a teenager in Virginia he defended himself with a booby trap and a barricade.
Police: Teen 'booby traps,' barricades himself in Haymarket home
A 16-year-old Haymarket boy was arrested after police said he barricaded himself in a basement for nearly 12 hours on Saturday.
Officers arrived in the 15100 block of Doe Ridge Road in Haymarket shortly before 8 a.m. for the report of a barricade.
A 59-year-old woman told police she was a case worker with Wythe County Department of Social Services and she was at the home to remove a 16-year-old from foster care.
She was trying to contact the teen at the basement door when she noticed what looked like "booby traps" leading to the back of the home, Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok said.
She found a trip wire and nails, with the nails placed pointing upwards. The woman stepped on one of the nails as she walked up to home, but it only went through her shoe, not into her foot, police said.
When officers discovered the teen had barricaded himself in his basement bedroom, they activated the SWAT team.
The 16-year-old surrendered to officers around 7:30 p.m.
He was charged with attempted malicious wounding and was being held at the Juvenile Detention Center.
Source: insidenova.com, Manassas
Social Workers are Incompetent
September 9, 2013 permalink
Do you think your social worker was incompetent? The child protection hotline in New South Wales Australia has proof. Half of the senior hotline workers applying for a promotion failed their own test. They remain on the job in spite of their incompetence.
Hotline supervisors failed test
Many caseworkers are employed as senior supervisors at the state's child protection hotline despite having failed the application process for the role.
Internal documents obtained by Fairfax Media show that seven of the 14 caseworkers who failed to achieve a pass when they applied for the role of team leader were already acting in the more senior position. It is understood that most of the caseworkers who failed the application assessment are still acting in the more senior roles.
The document, signed by Michelle Allan, the acting manager of the Child Protection Helpline, on May 9, shows that caseworkers deemed ''not successful'' scored marks of 11 to 15.5 out of 30. To pass they are required to get 16 out of 30.
The senior role involves leading teams of up to five caseworkers who answer calls to the hotline, which fields reports about children at risk of abuse and neglect. The team leader supervises the caseworkers and escalates the priority given to more serious complaints if child safety is at serious risk.
A former community services worker who has seen the documents said some of the people who failed the application process have continued to act in the supervisory roles. ''Normally if you don't pass the application process, you would get culled. In this case they were given another two tasks to try to get them over the line, but a lot of them did even worse in those,'' she said.
Opposition spokeswoman for family and community services Linda Burney said the department of community services was ''willing to do everything possible to fill those positions''. ''Instead of culling them if they fail, they were desperately trying to fill those senior caseworker positions with people who were clearly unsuitable,'' she said. ''That suggests a dangerous practice.''
A caseworker who works for the hotline said team leaders are supposed to provide caseworkers with support and guidance.
''People who clearly failed a recruitment process are being promoted,'' she said. ''Aside from it being unethical and setting them up for failure, it's outright dangerous and places the very people we are suppose to protect at risk. Why does management think this is OK? Does a child need to die for this practice to stop? My fear is that one day a team leader will incorrectly sign off one of [the] reports, and there will be a tragic consequence from some little child.''
The concerns about the recruitment process at the child protection hotline follow those about a shortage of caseworkers in NSW. The caseworker said she and her colleagues had been asked to do more overtime in the lead-up to a visit by a newspaper to the child protection hotline office.
Chief executive of Family and Community Services Maree Walk said the offer for overtime was co-incidental. She said overtime was frequently used to ensure child protection reports were inputted into the computer system.
Ms Walk said the assessment test was used to identify where caseworkers needed support. ''This test helps us work out where people need further support and development because the team leader role has a number of facets. The 16 out of 30 tells us they need further development.''
Ms Walk said everyone who was assessed and needed to improve their skills had completed additional tasks. "Those whose performance has not improved are not acting in the team leader role," she said.
Community Services Minister Pru Goward has been accused of misleading Parliament over the number of caseworkers. She consistently said there are about 2000 or more caseworkers in the system, despite her office receiving a review by Ernst and Young showing there were about 300 fewer.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Tennessee DCS Commissioner Quits
September 7, 2013 permalink
Want to know how many children die in foster care? You won't find out. Even state legislators armed with subpoenas cannot find out. Tennessee Department of Children's Services commissioner Kate O'Day avoided disclosure by resigning one day before her scheduled testimony to the legislature on child deaths. In the USA foster care outcomes are more tightly guarded secrets than the workings of the NSA.
DCS Commissioner resigns day before scheduled testimony
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
Just one day before the commissioner for the Department of Children's Services was scheduled to testify before a state legislature committee, she has resigned.
Commissioner Kate O'Day quit Tuesday in the middle of one of the most tumultuous times for the state agency as it faces questions about the welfare of children in its care.
"Kate has informed me that she felt the time was right to step down," said Gov. Bill Haslam in a statement. "She was concerned that she had become more of a focus than the children the department serves."
State Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville first asked DCS nearly 15 months ago to provide information regarding the deaths and near-deaths of all Tennessee children who had contact with the state agency since January 2009.
Fifteen months later, Jones said DCS still hasn't released that information, and now the commissioner is gone.
"I think she was a little in over her head, and this will be a good step for the department," Jones said. "The bad thing is so many children had to die and so many children had to be placed back with perpetrators."
Haslam appointed Jim Henry, who currently heads up the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), as interim commissioner.
The former commissioner was set to testify before the state Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday, and it is unclear whether she will now testify. Henry said he plans to attend the DCS hearing.
Henry is a man with a good reputation, but now he leads a department that many say has been broken for years.
"This is only about the children in the state and how we treat them. And it's our fault if they get hurt again, and it's our fault if they die. And we don't want that to happen anymore," Jones said.
Monday, DCS said it would cost a group of media outlets, including WSMV-TV, some $55,000 to acquire the information surrounding the 200 deaths of children in the agency's care since 2009.
Jones said she hopes Henry's first act is to reconsider what she calls nonsense.
"I knew that the department would come back with some outrageous number on redacting information, because that's what they do when they don't want to do something," Jones said.
Jones has filed legislation that would create a joint Department of Children's Services Oversight Committee to ensure that the children in DCS custody are not place in harm's way.
O'Day joined the Haslam administration in January 2011. Prior to that, she served as president and chief executive officer of Child & Family Tennessee in Knoxville. She began her career as a youth counselor with the Broward County Sheriff's Office in Florida and later served as vice president of program development and evaluation for Children's Home Society of Florida and director of program services for Covenant House of Florida.
"I appreciate Kate's service to this administration and to this state," said Haslam. "She has done a lot of good work in identifying longstanding problems that have hampered the department, and we will build on those efforts as we move forward."
Henry is the first commissioner of DIDD, which was formerly a division of the Department of Finance and Administration before becoming a state department on Jan. 15, 2011.
"I am grateful to Jim for agreeing to take on this interim role," Haslam said. "He has significant experience both in the private and public sectors and has devoted the better part of his life to caring for some of our most vulnerable citizens."
Before joining the Haslam administration, Henry served as president and chief executive officer of Omni Visions, Inc, a company serving adults with developmental disabilities and children and families in crisis. A Vietnam veteran and former mayor of Kingston, Henry spent 12 years as a state representative and six of those years as minority leader.
Henry will continue to serve as commissioner of DIDD during his interim role of leading DCS. The governor will immediately begin a search for a new commissioner of DCS.
Source: WSMV Nashville
Layoffs as FACS Niagara Closes Facility
September 7, 2013 permalink
FACS Niagara will be closing a group home in Welland and laying off at least 20 staff.
FACS to close Welland residence, at least 20 face layoffs
WELLAND - At least 20 employees of Family and Children’s Services Niagara will be laid off by the end of November when its Welland home for foster children that has operated for nearly 40 years is closed.
The regional adolescent centre will shut its doors Nov. 28, said FACS spokeswoman Anne Godfrey.
About 45 employees will be affected.
“About 20 of those are casual, non-union employees,” she said. “They will receive layoff notices.”
The other 25 employees are full and part-time employees represented by CUPE local 2328. Godfrey said it’s not clear yet how many of those employees will be laid off, due to provisions in their collective agreement.
According to FACS’ website, the centre was established in 1976. It’s located behind the FACS office at 654 South Pelham Rd. It is a youth home and treatment centre for those youths whose needs cannot be met in a regular foster home.
The centre offers a residential setting in two separate houses, Brant and Merritt. Each has five bedrooms for girls on one level and five for boys on a separate level, a total capacity for 20 youth. Each home has a common dining and living area as well as office space for staff. The centre serves the entire Niagara Region and while most youth will continue to attend their regular schools, there is also a classroom on site, the website said.
Godfrey said it costs FACS about $3 million a year to run the centre. FACS is principally funded by the provincial government to the tune of about $45.8 million annually.
“The centre was closed because it was not financially viable anymore,” Godfrey said.
Local 2328 president Kim Kane said the union was caught off guard when FACS announced Wednesday the centre was closing.
“It came as a great shock to everyone,” she said. “I am so disappointed that the government continues to under-fund children’s aid societies in Ontario, because that is what has led directly to the decision to close the centre.”
Kane said the union is still trying to formulate a response to the announcement.
After the centre closes, the youths who would normally have gone there will be placed elsewhere. Godfrey said FACS works with other service providers around the region, and where youths are placed will depend entirely on the individual needs of each person.
“These are youth who need a little more structure than a regular foster home can provide,” Godfrey said. “These are youth with emotional needs, or behavioural needs that foster parents cannot provide.”
Source: St Catharines Standard
CPS Impersonator Tries to Abduct Girl
September 7, 2013 permalink
In Michigan Bonnie Farrow claimed to be a CPS worker while trying to abduct seven-year-old AnnJelina Kantz.
UPDATE: Family of woman arrested for allegedly trying to abduct 7-year-old speaks out
Niles, Mich. Police say a 7-year-old escaped abduction Wednesday, after a woman pretending to be with Child Protective Services allegedly tried to take her away from her neighborhood.
A woman approached AnnJelina Kantz near her home in the 600 block of North 7th Street in Niles at around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Police say 50-year-old Bonnie Farrow started talking to AnnJelina and tried to lead her away.
"One lady who I never knew started pushing me," AnnJelina said. "Never seen her before. So, why wouldn't I be scared?"
That’s when a neighbor saw what was happening, and yelled for Farrow to stop.
AnnJelina ran back inside her home, but Farrow followed her and knocked on bathroom door for the child’s mother.
"She says 'It's CPS,'" AnnJelina's mom, Kassondra Benson, said. "I said, 'Hold on a minute, I'll be right out.' And, then when I came out, you could tell by looking at her that it wasn't CPS."
Benson says Farrow told her a little girl in the neighborhood was in danger, but Benson didn't buy her story. So, she told the woman to get out.
But, she didn't get far. Police found Farrow a couple houses down sitting on an apartment porch. They arrested her on charges of home invasion, kidnapping/child enticement and impersonating an FIA worker. Farrow was arraigned on the charges Thursday morning.
She’s being held in the Berrien County Jail on $50,000 bond. A pretrial conference is scheduled for September 13th.
NewsCenter 16 spoke with Farrow's ex-husband over the phone Thursday night. He says Farrow has mental health issues and needs treatment. He says she would never try to harm anyone and was likely confused and trying to help AnnJelina. Farrow's ex-husband says he's not sure how she got to AnnJelina's neighborhood, but she often just takes off walking.
NewsCenter 16 sat down with a few of Farrow’s family members Friday because they wanted to share their side of the story.
They say Farrow suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, has wandered off in the past and tries to help people if she suspects they are in trouble.
“My mom, even since we were small, has always been a wonderful mother. It was just because of her sickness she wasn't able to take care of us,” says one of Farrow’s daughters, Heidi Jones.
They say she has been in and out of mental health facilities since she was 27. Most recently, they say she was released from Oaklawn in Goshen last week after the State of Indiana committed her. They say she was also just diagnosed with dementia.
“We thought, she got an apartment and we thought everything was going ok,” adds Jones.
They say in spite of any mental illness Farrow has always been very protective, especially when it comes to the safety of kids.
“If you have Bonnie watch a child, that child is not going to get out of her sight,” says ex-sister-in-law, Avaline Stowe.
They believe it was that paranoia that led to Wednesday’s incident.
“I said nobody is going to understand. She was scared that that child was in danger. Either going to run out in front of a car or become abducted by somebody, which she got accused of, or she thought she was being neglected. So, in her own childish mind, she thought, 'I am going to go in there, I’ll scare that lady’ and she went in there and told her I am from child protective services and probably wanted to put fear in her to watch her child better,” adds Stowe.
Farrow's family says police should have known about her mental health issues and say she should have been taken to a hospital, not a jail cell.
“She won’t eat, she won’t get her meds, she will deteriorate faster mentally and my heart goes out to the mother who thought her child was being taken,” says Stowe.
Now, they admit that this would have been a horrifying situation for that 7-year-old girl and her family and they are not saying what Farrow did was right. They are saying Bonnie had no intention of hurting that child, she has never done anything like this before and her medication had to have been off to cause these actions.
Following a similar attempted abduction incident in their jurisdiction earlier this month, Sgt. William Redman with St. Joseph County police released a statement Wednesday addressing the possibility that the two cases are connected:
"Our department is aware of the arrest and our detectives will be working with Michigan authorities to investigate further. Our detectives will investigate to see if this female is in any way connected to the attempted kidnapping incident in Granger recently. At this time, it is unknown whether these two incidents are connected."
The St. Joseph County Police Department released another statement clearing Bonnie’s name Friday afternoon saying,
“The St. Joseph County Police Department was able to interview Bonnie Farrow in Michigan today, September 6, 2013. Two detectives spoke with Ms. Farrow regarding an incident in Granger that happened on August 26, 2013 where a blonde lady is reported to have approached a little girl. Ms. Farrow denied any involvement with the incident and was able to provide investigators with her location outside the county on that date. We were able to independently verify her whereabouts at the relevant time period on August 26, 2013 as being at an in-patient out-of-county treatment facility. Based upon our investigation into Ms. Farrow's whereabouts on August 26, 2013 after 4PM, we are confident that Ms. Farrow was not present within St. Joseph County at or around the time the little girl in Granger reported that someone made contact with her”.
The St. Joseph County Police did tell NewsCenter 16 that there have been several instances of Farrow being taken to local facilities by police.
In July 2012, she was transported to a mental health facility after being described as "out of control" at a home on Cleveland Road. We are also told she went to jail for criminal trespassing, also in 2012.
Source: WNDU-TV South Bend
Protection to Excess
September 7, 2013 permalink
The National Post comments on the excessive protection of children. All Ontario schools must keep children under lock and key, controlling all visitor access during school hours.
National Post editorial board: Panic in the schoolyard
We must resist the impulse to respond to every isolated tragedy with new regulations.
A new school year began on Tuesday, and Toronto’s often hysteria-prone news crews were geared up for the scare stories that always get served up by nervous parents this time of year.
It didn’t take long. A four-year-old Scarborough boy wandered into the wrong classroom on his first day in school, wearing the wrong nametag, and wasn’t immediately spotted. Cue panic: The police were notified, an alert went out, dozens of police with a K-9 unit turned up to scour the neighbourhood, terror spread. The little boy watched it all obliviously, until teachers spotted the mistake.
Later the same day, another four-year-old, named Alexander, got off the bus at the wrong stop after classes. He wasn’t far from home and was quickly spotted by a daycare worker who noticed a tag on his backpack and called the school. The principal promptly arrived to pick him up and return him to his parents. The bus company delivers almost 50,000 kids a day on 1,600 routes, but Alexander’s plight made local newspapers, radio bulletins and Twitter updates. His father was irate, the bus company was on the hot seat, experts were consulted to discuss what could be done to prevent a recurrence. The notion that, in a city of several million, a child occasionally will get off at the wrong stop, wasn’t considered.
Security is a legitimate concern — especially where children are concerned. And parents naturally slip into terror mode whenever a possible threat to their child arises. But Canadian schools now take the cake when it comes to hitting DEFCON 1 whenever a kid gets off at the wrong stop or spots a peanut in the lunch room.
This hysterical spirit now has found its way into province-wide legislation. As Raymond J. de Souza wrote in Thursday’s edition of the National Post, an Ontario law — hastily drafted to respond to last year’s Sandy Hook elementary-school shootings in Connecticut — requires that the province’s schools impose lock-and-buzzer policies on all building entrances during school hours — even small schools in safe areas where everyone knows everyone. Thanks to former Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government, every mother delivering a forgotten lunch now has to be approved before she can get in the door.
The driver of Alexander’s bus had a list identifying how many kids were to get off at each stop, but wasn’t allowed to know their names for “security” reasons. The bus company had considered providing photographs to the drivers, but again feared unspecified “security” concerns. Over-reacting in the approved manner, the company is now considering radio frequency identification tags that could be attached to backpacks so every child on every bus could be monitored at every moment. A decade ago, this would have seemed idiotic, or evidence of a creeping police state. Now it’s seen as sensible corporate practice.
Last year, a suburban Toronto woman asked city council to cut down trees near her daughter’s school, because they dropped acorns, to which her child was allergic. Thankfully, she came in for considerable criticism for trying to “child-proof” the world rather than simply teaching her child to avoid acorns. (“For as many people that may be allergic to acorns, I’m sure there’s a lot of people that are allergic to bees,” said one councilor sensibly. “What are we going to do about that? Are we going to exterminate all the bees?”) But in coming years, as the mania for safety becomes more acute, who knows? Acorns may become the new peanuts.
Tragedies do happen. A 14-year-old Toronto girl was killed this week when she was hit by a truck near a school. It was a tragic event, certainly. But the response from the local councillor was farcical: a call to consider banning trucks near schools any time students are likely to be outside. Why not parks and hospitals, while we’re at it?
Canadian schools are extremely safe. As Father de Souza noted Thursday, there hasn’t been a shooting at a Canadian elementary school in two decades. And tragedies such as the 2009 abduction of Victoria Stafford near her school are rare: Indeed, to the limited extent children abductions occur in Canada, children are far more likely to be taken from their home by an estranged family member.
We, and our politicians, must resist the impulse to respond to every isolated tragedy, or spasm of anxiety, with new regulations and security protocols whose only effect will be to make life more complicated and tiresome for parents and educators.
Source: National Post
Father Raymond J. de Souza: Locked doors, imaginary dangers
Ontario is creating school policy based on fears stoked by a single American psychopath.
Back to school this week. Open the doors to the children. And then lock them again. A new Ontario ministry of education policy mandates that all doors at all elementary schools should be locked, with the front door having a security system to buzz in all visitors.
Like most rural communities, our local school is not just a school, but a vital centre for the community. While the first- to eighth-graders are in their classes, their younger brothers and sisters are often down the hall in the “early years centre” where parents bring their babies and toddlers to play.
All manner of community activities take place in the school, many after hours when the students are not present, but some during the school day. On Wolfe Island, the parish cemetery is across the street from our school, so receptions after funerals are usually held in the school. It’s a practical thing, but a good lesson for the students to see that death and mourning and comforting their grieving neighbours are part of life.
All of this will become more difficult under the “locked door” policy. Former premier Dalton McGuinty announced the policy last December as an explicit response to the grisly massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Never mind that Sandy Hook already had a locked door policy with a buzzer for admission. Never mind that in the past 20 years, there has not been a single shooting or death at a Canadian elementary school. Never mind that the students play outside during recess anyway. Never mind that at our school, the office secretary works mornings only, so any afternoon visitors will have to ring the bell and force teachers to leave their classrooms to answer the door. Never mind that the policy makes no allowance for differences in communities, forcing places where people leave their keys in their vehicles to now lock their children in school.
Aside from the unnecessary cost and inconvenience the policy inflicts, it also changes the nature of the school. The ministry prattles on endlessly about making schools welcoming places and fostering good relationships with the community. The locked door does neither, and in fact is implicitly insulting to those communities where violence has never occurred. An American psychopath overcame the security system at Sandy Hook, so Queens’ Park decrees that gentle Wolfe Islanders must have their open and informal ways impeded.
Were the massed ranks of psychologists employed by Ontario’s educational establishment consulted on this? Does a child feel safer in a building where every door is locked against imagined dangers outside? Is a child happier if, during recess, she wants to run inside to use the bathroom, or because she forgot her toque, she confronts a locked door? Is it not plausible that children may feel more safe and secure in a school that reflects that they actually live in a safe and secure, not to mention friendly, community?
In most rural places, the locked door policy sends a false message. The church, the store, the post office, the coffee shop are all safe and open places, but the school is dangerous.
Over the summer I had occasion to be in Stamford, CT, not far from Newtown. The father of Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook killer, put his Stamford home up for sale and it made the front page of the local paper. That’s a community understandably traumatized by violence. Real estate transactions are seen through the prism of the shooting. The fact that Peter Lanza, whose ex-wife (Adam’s mother) was the first one killed by Adam that day, might want to leave the community is newsworthy.
But most Ontario communities have not been traumatized by this type of violence, and the likelihood that they ever will be is as close to nil as can be. To see their schools through the prism of faraway violence is absurd, and to disrupt perfectly functioning communities is foolish.
It is a perverse policy. What Adam Lanza did in Newtown was horrific enough. Why should Ontario want to expand the indirect impact of his killings to Wolfe Island?
Source: National Post
Punished for Motherhood
September 7, 2013 permalink
After Michigan mother Katina Simmons was convicted of abusing her own child she got in more trouble for threatening to kill her social worker.
Simmons jailed for threatneing CPS worker
Coldwater, Mich. —
COLDWATER — Katina Simmons will face probation violation on her child abuse conviction after she made a threat against a Child Protective Services worker.
Simmons, 39, was sentenced to two years probation in December for a third-degree child abuse conviction. Officers were called to her Dragon Lake home in June 2012 by Simmons' 9-year-old son, who had a bruised face.
The boy told officers and CPS Simmons had locked him in a room then used a shoe to beat him. Simmons denied using a shoe, but admitted hitting the boy.
A hand print was found on the child's back.
Simmons was in jail on a probation violation when she was transported to probate court for a hearing involving custody of the child. After testimony at the hearing she became upset at the CPS worker and told Branch County Sheriff's Office Officer Rick Fillmore if she saw the CPS worker on the street, "I would kill her."
The CPS employee said after her dealing with Simmons, who now lives in Bronson Township, she felt the threat was credible.
Branch County District Judge Brent Weigle set Simmons' bond at $1,000 on the one-year misdemeanor of threatening harm to a Department of Human Services employee.
Simmons denied she meant the threat and pleaded not guilty to probation violation.
A conviction could send her to prison for up to two years.
Source: Coldwater Daily Reporter
September 5, 2013 permalink
The Telegraph reports that British judge James Munby is calling for openness in family court. In the case of a father who placed his story on the internet the judge refused to grant a social services request to silence him. But the Telegraph is still not able to print the father's name.
Judge calls for more transparency in family courts
The most senior family judge in England and Wales has demanded more transparency in the courts after rejecting social workers’ attempts to silence a father whose baby was taken into care against his will.
Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court, said the public had a right to know “what is being done in their name” and called for the courts to adapt to the internet era.
Giving his ruling on a county council’s legal bid to ban the father publishing highly critical material about its social services department, the judge said the “glare of publicity” was essential to avoid miscarriages of justice.
It comes after widespread concern about secrecy in the family courts - which usually hold hearings in private - and a separate court, known as the Court of Protection, which deals with life-or-death decisions about patient treatment.
Sir James said: “There is a pressing need for more transparency, indeed for much more transparency, in the family justice system.
“There are a number of aspects to this. One is the right of the public to know, the need for the public to be confronted with what is being done in its name.
“Nowhere is this more necessary than in relation to care and adoption cases. Such cases, by definition, involve interference, intrusion, by the state, by local authorities and by the court, into family life.
“In this context the arguments in favour of publicity - in favour of openness, public scrutiny and public accountability - are particularly compelling.”
He added: “We must have the humility to recognise - and to acknowledge - that public debate, and the jealous vigilance of an informed media, have an important role to play in exposing past miscarriages of justice and in preventing possible future miscarriages of justice.
“The remedy, even if it is probably doomed to only partial success, is ... more transparency. Putting it bluntly, letting the glare of publicity into the family courts.”
Sir James ruled on a case involving Staffordshire County Council and a baby, who can only be identified as ‘J’, who was born earlier this year.
The court heard the infant was made the subject of an emergency protection order on the day of its birth and taken into care.
The father posted material about social workers on the internet, some of which was abusive, and announced the child’s birth on Facebook, the social networking site.
He also posted footage on Facebook and YouTube of social workers taking the child into care under an emergency protection order - and the child was named, said the judge.
Sir James said the council applied for an order which would prevent the publication of the child’s name, address and image.
The judge made an order banning the naming of the child, but refused to ban the publication of images.
The judge said his decision was intended to protect the child from identification while allowing a “public debate” to take place about the “operation of the care system”.
In his ruling, Sir James said that even “unjustified” criticism did not provide a reason for the courts to silence someone’s views.
“The fear of such criticism, however justified that fear may be, and however unjustified the criticism, is, however, not of itself a justification for prior restraint by injunction ... even if the criticism is expressed in vigorous, trenchant or outspoken terms,” he said.
The judge said the way the internet allowed easy access to information that was sometimes sensitive in nature posed “enormous challenges”. “The law must develop and adapt, as it always has done down the years in response to other revolutionary technologies,” he said.
“We must not simply throw up our hands in despair and moan that the internet is uncontrollable. Nor can we simply abandon basic legal principles.”
In July, Sir James published guidelines setting out how thousands more court judgments in care and adoption cases should be made public.
Councils have been criticised for using similar legal methods inappropriately in the past.
In 2008 a senior judge said East Sussex County Council was guilty of a "wholly unacceptable abuse of power" for rushing through the adoption of an 18 month-old child and blocking a challenge by the child’s natural father.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Addendum: Christopher Booker comments more positively. Fixcas remains skeptical because of the ineffectiveness of previous announcements of openness in British family courts     and because Munby's rules still forbid naming the child, leaving British courts just as opaque as those in Ontario. Booker also comments on same-sex adoption.
Could this be the end of secrecy in 'child protection’?
Sir James Munby, an unusually humane and intelligent judge, is bent on rolling back the blanket of secrecy that has concealed many horror stories from public view
To the ever-growing number of us who have been trying to expose the corruption of our state “child-protection” system as one of the most shocking scandals in Britain today, there is no question that a judgment published last week by Sir James Munby, now the most senior judge in our family courts, is a very significant legal landmark. For several years I have been explaining here how this system could not have gone so horrifyingly off the rails, with thousands of children being removed from their families for no good reason, if it had not been able to hide its workings from public view behind such a wall of secrecy, going way beyond what our lawmakers in Parliament intended.
In the name of concealing the identity of the children, which all statute law is concerned to protect, not only has this been widened out into a ban on reporting anything that goes on in our family courts (along with a similar ban on aggrieved parents saying anything to anyone about what is happening to them), but it has also been made a punishable offence to reveal the names of judges, local authorities, social workers or anyone involved in a case. I am even not allowed to indicate, however vaguely, in which part of the country a case is taking place. All this is supposedly in the cause just of protecting the identity of a child.
It is the groundswell of anger building up over how this secrecy prevents either parents or journalists from revealing what too often appear to be terrible travesties of justice that Sir James Munby, the recently appointed President of the Family Division, has decided to face head on, by issuing his carefully considered judgment in the case of “Baby J”. The immediate issue was that the father of four children removed by Staffordshire county council had infuriated the social workers by going wild with rage on Facebook, publishing not only the names and pictures of his children, but also those of social workers – along with a volley of abuse at the people he saw as having destroyed his family.
Before ruling on an application from the council for a complete ban on all this, Munby devoted most of his 26-page judgment to the more general question of whether the secrecy imposed on such cases has gone too far. Since the abolition of the death penalty, he says, the kind of orders a judge has to make on whether children should be removed from their parents “are among the most drastic any judge in any jurisdiction is empowered to make”. When a young mother is forced to lose her child, she and the child may have to live with the consequences of that decision for, respectively, 70 or 90 years.
In light of this, says Munby, “public debate and the jealous vigilance of an informed press have an important role to play in exposing past miscarriages of justice and in preventing future miscarriages”. He emphasises that if confidence in the system is to be “maintained or, if eroded, restored”, it is vital that its workings should be as open to public view as possible. The answer to criticism of “secret courts” must be “more speech, less enforced silence”.
Sir James goes on to consider other issues, such as those raised by the increased readiness of anguished parents to tell their stories on the internet, ruling that these should be subject to the same restrictions as are applied to reporting in the press. But when he finally comes to ruling on the council’s application for a complete ban, he strikes out all the items not referring directly to the identity of children or their parents, allowing the naming of Staffordshire, social workers, “expert witnesses” and pretty well everything else.
This is such a startling challenge to prevailing practice that we will have to watch carefully to see how widely Munby’s principles are now followed. Clearly, this unusually humane and intelligent judge is bent on rolling back that blanket of secrecy that has been used to conceal so many countless horror stories from public view. But I recall one recent case in which a mother described her agony when her newborn child was snatched from her arms while she was breastfeeding. She quoted to the court an earlier Munby judgment, in which he trenchantly ruled that such an action was clearly in breach of “the imperative demands of the European Convention on Human Rights”. The only comment from the bench was “other judges can do what they like, but this is my court”. Now Munby is head of the family courts, we shall see whether his fellow judges accord him more respect.
The itch to give children that have been removed from their natural parents to gay couples for adoption (rather than, as in several cases I have followed, to responsible and loving grandparents), is getting into ever more of a tangle. Last week we had the story of the 87-year-old vicar who refused to christen a child because both the lesbian adoptive parents insisted on being described in his parish register as the child’s “mother”. A more “modern-minded” priest was found who was quite happy for the child to be recorded as having two “mothers”.
At least this tale did not have such a tragic outcome as one widely reported in South Africa in April, when two lesbians were tried for the murder of their four-year-old adopted son. An employee of the couple testified that the crime had been committed when the women became increasingly angry at the boy’s refusal to call one of them “daddy”. The more dominant of the partners was sentenced to 25 years for beating the child to death, the other to 22 years for being a “passive participant” in his murder.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
September 5, 2013 permalink
Owners of cell phones are getting Amber alerts unless they take the trouble to opt out. With these alerts the social services system is forcing its attitudes on the general public. Many Amber alerts are about parents taking their own children.
With Auto Amber Alerts, We're Opted In By Default To A 'Little Brother' Surveillance Society
Amber Alerts have been turned on by default for most smartphones over the last year
Many Californians regretted bringing their phones to bed last night. After two children were kidnapped in San Diego, law enforcement sent an Amber alert out across the Golden State, resulting in a 11 p.m. scream from millions of iPhones and Droids (including Shaq’s). It was a wake-up in more than one way. The surveillance society has gone wireless.
Most Californians didn’t realize their phones were automatically opted in to the alerts — which include safety/weather threat notices and presidential alerts “during a national emergency“– as it was the first time the system was used in the state. The alerts are a public-private partnership tour de force: Requested by the president after 9/11 and mandated by Congress in 2006, the Wireless Emergency Alerts are overseen by the FCC and FEMA; major carriers from Verizon to AT&T had to get on board and mobile handset providers such as Apple and Android had to make changes to their operating systems to make the alert on by default, as well as giving carriers access to their APIs to send the messages to phones.
iPhone users can opt out by visiting 'Notifications' in their Settings
While you can opt out of the Amber alerts (if you’re willing to be thought of as a horrible person) and “alerts involving imminent threats to safety or life” (if you’re a risk-loving person), you can’t block alerts from the President. The alerts go out to anyone within a geographical area, broadcast from cell towers. It reminds me of a Dr. Who episode in which the government can directly beam messages into people’s minds thanks to an embedded chip in their brains, but in this case the chip is outside the body, in a handset. Carriers were required to have this up and running as of April 2012, but the alerts have only tended to get attention when setting off the phones of the mainstream media. In July, the New York Times wrote an explainer after New Yorkers got a 4 a.m. Amber alert.
Bob Hoever, a director at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, says the Amber alerts have gone out on phones “probably more than 100 times” since the first one in December 2012 in Texas. They’ve led to the recovery of missing children twice: in Minnesota in February when a teenager spotted the car of someone who had abducted an 8-month-old after a home invasion and in Ohio in July when a theme-park-bound group got the alert and started trailing a van carrying an abducted 8-year-old. (That was shortly after Cleveland considered getting rid of them because “the loud alarms awoke [people] in fear.”)
Hoever said people used to opt in to Amber alerts for their phones by selecting zip codes for the areas they could monitor, which was “state of the art technology in May 2005.” Now the alerts simply go to anyone near a cell tower included in the alert zone. And because they are turned on by default, we are “nudged” into being part of a civilian police force, on the alert for child abductors.
“ Now no matter where you’re from, where you’re vacationing, you’ll be alerted if you’re in the area,” says Hoever. “It’s much more accurate, much more targeted, much more powerful.”
The alerts will reach a far bigger audience — assuming people don’t switch it off after too many late night and early morning awakenings — which Hoever thinks will help recover missing children faster. “The eyes and ears of the many outweigh the eyes and ears of the few,” says Hoever, who points out that Amber alerts have resulted in the rescue and recovery of 656 children since the system was first put in place in 1996.
However, the San Diego kidnapper remains on the loose as of Tuesday. I asked Hoever whether a blanket alert that turns hundreds of thousands of people into members of a massive neighborhood watch has resulted in more effective Amber alerts.
“I don’t know that it’s more effective, but the awareness is incredible now,” says Hoever. “If you look at Google Trends today, Amber Alerts beat out A-Rod.”
No Boa Constrictors
September 5, 2013 permalink
The tragic death of two boys last month from an escaped python in New Brunswick has initiated a campaign by police and CAS to rid Ontario of exotic pets in the home. A Barrie father has been fined for having two red tail boa constrictors, and CAS is involved, presumably threatening to take his children. Our research shows that boas are smaller than pythons, and live on prey animals smaller than children. Some homes use boas for rodent control.
Barrie man ordered to get rid of boa constrictors
Simcoe County’s Children’s Aid Society has been called in after two young children were found living in a Barrie home with a pair of red tail boa constrictors.
Simcoe County’s Children’s Aid Society has been called in after two young children were found living in a Barrie home with a pair of red tail boa constrictors.
Barrie bylaw officers found out about the snakes a month ago and ordered their removal. The owner complied, but the snakes were later brought back into the home, according to bylaw officials.
On Wednesday, Barrie police officers were called to help charge the 27-year-old man with harbouring exotic animals.
Bylaw enforcement officers were concerned because two children under 5 live in the home.
The Barrie man was fined $400 and has a week to remove the snakes.
CAS wouldn’t discuss the case when contacted.
Last month, two New Brunswick boys, aged 5 and 7, died after an African rock python escaped from a pet store beneath the apartment in which they were sleeping. The snake slithered through a ventilation system and suffocated the boys, who were there for a sleepover, police said.
The Ontario government later announced it was looking into rules covering exotic animals in the wake of the New Brunswick deaths.
Source: Toronto Star
September 4, 2013 permalink
This week five-year-old foster child Dominic Lloyd Lee Elkins died in Harrison County Iowa. It was not in this blog because there was nothing unusual about his death. Until now. A news item by WHO TV in Des Moines propagates two lies from child protectors:
FIRST TIME: DHS Says Foster Child Death Is A First
The Iowa Department of Human Services says they have never seen a case where a foster child has been accused of killing another foster child living in the same home.
According to the agency, any abuse within foster care is rare.
In 2012, more than 10,000 Iowa children spent time in foster homes.
There were only 15 reported cases of abuse.
None of them led to deaths, and none were between two foster children.
Joby Holcomb, the Clinical Director for Lifeworks in Des Moines says he’s shocked by what happened, but hopes he can use it to better serve his own clients.
“What am I going to do in the future to make sure something like this doesn’t happen. How am I going to do things differently with the families I’m working with so I can make sure something like this never has to happen again,” said Holcomb.
Source: WHO-TV, Des Moines
Careful research has shown that the death rate of foster children is ten times that of children in real families. And here is a list of eleven other foster children killed by foster children living in the same home. It comes from our archive of dead foster children, the one drawn from press reports that omit nineteen of every twenty deaths.
Foster Killer Excused
September 4, 2013 permalink
Police have located the killer of foster child Lee Bonneau. Since the accused is under age 12, he cannot be charged with a crime. His punishment is to be placed in the custody of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services.
The real killer is not mentioned in the story and will not be charged. That is the social worker who took Bonneau away from his real parents and placed him in foster care.
Suspected child killer apprehended
REGINA — A child who armed himself with a weapon and severely beat a six-year-old foster child, who ultimately died, is himself in the care of the Ministry of Social Services today.
“It is a tragedy nobody can be prepared for,” Sheldon Taypotat told a news conference Tuesday. He is chief of the Kahkewistahaw First Nation, where Lee Allan Bonneau — a visitor to the reserve — was killed by a boy who was a resident of that community.
RCMP and government officials confirmed at a news conference today that the boy who killed Bonneau was apprehended and placed under the jurisdiction of the Social Services almost immediately after the six-year-old was found wounded. Bonneau, who would have started Grade 2 today, died on Aug. 21 after suffering what the RCMP described as severe head trauma. Staff Sgt. Larry Brost, the acting officer in charge of major crimes, said investigators know a blunt force weapon was used and are confident they know who wielded it.
But because that child — officials wouldn’t confirm reports that he is 11 years old — is under the age of 12, he cannot face criminal charges under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. However, Andrea Brittin, an assistant deputy minister in the Social Services Ministry, said the boy is being assessed to determine a treatment plan.
“The child will be placed in a facility that is able to meet that child’s needs to ensure that he receives treatment, and he receives the supervision that he requires,” she said.
That boy was already on the radar of the police and social service agencies even before Bonneau’s death.
“Broadview police knew of this child,” Brost said, adding that a criminal investigation in May 2011 — about what he wouldn’t divulge — prompted the RCMP to refer the boy for social services assistance because of his young age.
Brittin confirmed the boy and his family, residents of the First Nation, had been receiving help from Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services.
Since Bonneau’s homicide, the boy has been removed from his home and community. Brittin said privacy laws prevent her from speaking specifically about where the boy has been placed except to say it is an “out-of-home placement.”
The government later issued an update indicating the apprehended boy is not in a foster home, but in a facility with 24-hour supervision. Professional staff will provide care and assessment and work with other professionals to determine an appropriate treatment plan.
For the first time since Bonneau’s death, a slightly clearer picture emerged of how he came to be on the First Nation.
Bonneau, a non-aboriginal child, had been placed in foster care with a family residing near Kahkewistahaw, but off-reserve. His caregiver was visiting on the First Nation and was at the First Nation’s Education and Sports Complex — where bingo was on that night. Bonneau was playing with some dogs outside the centre around 8:30 p.m. His caregiver reported him missing around 10 p.m. — and 20 minutes, later the critically wounded boy was found in an open field nearby.
Asked what drove one child to kill another, Brost said the investigation is still underway. “This is a unique case. We may never find that answer,” he added.
He said the two children were strangers to each other. “Children will be children, and they play together.”
But he said Bonneau’s death appears to be more akin to a deliberate act than accident. “It is a culpable homicide.” Brost said police have no reason to believe anyone else was involved in the killing other than the child implicated.
A spokesman for the Coroner’s Office said Tuesday that its own separate investigation is still underway. Only after that is completed will Chief Coroner Kent Stewart decide whether or not to call an inquest into Bonneau’s death.
Source: Regina Leader-Post
Christie Blatchford gives a clue when Lee was apprehended, but no idea why.
Christie Blatchford: Little scrutiny after six-year-old killed by another child
Counselling and support for everyone — yes, that’s the ticket.
The various families are being comforted and supported. So are members of the various communities affected. Even the child killer is going to get help.
Such is the very modern response to the homicide of a little boy named Lee Allan Bonneau, who died last month on a Saskatchewan reserve and whose death has been officially pronounced a murder, his killer another boy who is himself a child.
And, as was revealed Tuesday at a press conference in Regina, the same government ministry and same child-welfare agency that were respectively involved with the boys and their families before the death — not, it appears, to spectacular success — are still in charge.
The six-year-old boy was beaten to death on the evening of Aug. 21, his battered body found in a wooded area not far from the community centre on the Kahkewistahaw First Nation, located about 150 kilometres east of Regina.
Because Lee was in a foster home off the reserve, he was directly in the care of the social services ministry.
The other boy — the killer — is also under the age of 12 and thus the age of criminal responsibility, and can’t be charged.
The governing legislation is the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act, which contemplates charges against only those young people who are 12 and older, but under 18.
The killer — and according to RCMP Staff-Sergeant Larry Brost, there is “no other person responsible” for Lee’s death other “than this child” — also can’t be identified subject to confidentiality provisions of the YCJA and the Saskatchewan Child and Family Services Act.
The boy was, as the saying goes, “known to police,” Staff Sgt. Brost said, through “school, community involvement and police matters.”
Lee and his killer, Staff Sgt. Brost said, didn’t know one another.
At the time of the murder, the boy was, assistant deputy social services minister Andrea Brittin said, “receiving services from Yorkton Tribal Child and Family Services, along with his family.”
Precluded from being able to disclose specific details, Ms. Brittin couldn’t say what those “services” provided to the other boy were, or why Lee had been taken from his parents and placed in a foster home.
Yorkton is one of 17 First Nation agencies in the province that provide child-care services to children and families who live on reserves.
The night Lee was assaulted, his foster mother was inside the community centre, playing bingo.
He was last seen about 8:30 p.m., playing outside the hall with some dogs.
Reported missing about 90 minutes later, the little boy was found about 10:20 p.m. He died of his injuries in hospital.
Curiously, Ms. Brittin said, in cases where a child under 12 commits an act (such as murder) which if he were 12 or older would be a criminal offence, “that child is deemed to be in need of protection.”
Thus, he has been apprehended by the ministry, and Ms. Brittin said the government and the Yorkton agency will make decisions jointly “to ensure he receives the treatment he requires” and that “the community is safe.”
It isn’t known when Lee was removed from his parents’ care — neither one returned messages Tuesday — or why.
But Mary Jo Herman, who was Lee’s school bus driver when the family lived in the village of Odessa, suspects it may have been in the spring of 2012.
Lee was then in kindergarten at Vibank Regional School in Vibank, about 13 kilometres from Odessa.
As a kindergarten student, Lee went to school only every other day, Ms. Herman told Postmedia in a phone interview. His mother would always be with him at the bus stop, she said, and sometimes his dad too.
Then suddenly, sometime that spring, Lee just stopped going to school. “He never finished kindergarten,” she said. “He didn’t finish out the year.”
Aboriginal youngsters are disproportionately represented in the province’s child-welfare systems, and according to the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth, more of them die and suffer serious injuries while in care.
“Of the 32 child-death and 25 critical-injury files closed in 2012, we can confirm that 56% and 84% respectively involved an aboriginal child or youth.”
The Advocate added, “we suspect that the percentage of deaths involving aboriginal young people may be significantly higher” even than reported.
Bobbi Alexson, a young man from the small reserve who looked for Lee the night he was reported missing, has started a petition to get peacekeepers on Kahkewistahaw.
In Facebook messages he posted on Aug. 23 and Aug. 24, he described the “terrible home” the reserve is for children.
“I thought about leaving this reserve because of the parties, the drug dealers, the drunk drivers,” he said, but stopped because he is reluctant to leave his grandmother and children “in an environment that has lost [its] ways. I don’t feel safe on my reserve, my home, and I know damn well you don’t, either.”
There was no such blunt talk at the press conference in Regina, rather platitudes about “this tragedy,” the need for healing and prayers, and much citing of confidentiality rules.
As all that counselling may aid those involved, confidentiality may offer agency and government comfort, but does little to bring about scrutiny.
Same as it ever was, to borrow from an old Talking Heads’ song.
Source: National Post
Addendum: Saskatchewan’s Advocate for Children and Youth, Bob Pringle released a report on the death. It suppressed the name of Lee Allan Bonneau, but the press figured it out. A second enclosed article expresses skepticism of the conclusions.
SK children's advocate wants systems held accountable in boy's death
Report looks at death of 6-year-old Lee Bonneau
They’re meant to keep children in foster care safe, but a long awaited report into the killing of one child at the hands of another finds policies and procedures were ignored, overlooked or completely out of reach.
Saskatchewan’s Advocate for Children and Youth has finished looking over the death of a child in 2013. On Wednesday afternoon, Bob Pringle presented a report to the Speaker of the Saskatchewan Legislature after a special investigation into “two young boys…whose paths crossed tragically on August 21, 2013,” as referred to in the report. It identifies how supports for each child weren’t properly provided; some policies and procedures set out by the Ministry of Social Services weren’t followed leaving the boys, and their families, vulnerable.
"The whole purpose of this investigation and identifying these findings and making recommendations is so that this doesn't happen again.... Mistakes were made, mistakes that were catastrophic...we all need to roll up our sleeves and make sure that it doesn't happen again but that will only happen if we fix all of the issues that went wrong here,” Pringle told the media.
Pringle outlines the cases of each child, who he refers to in the report as ‘Sam’ and ‘Derek.’
"It's a disaster. A child died and another life is changed forever."
While the report does not identify the children, the dates and cases are similar to those of Lee Bonneau and the young boy who allegedly killed him. The six-year-old was found fatally injured on the Kahkewistahaw First Nation on the evening of August 21, 2013. He died shortly after midnight with a boy under the age of 12 being taken into custody, believed to be responsible for the death. The case was set to be examined by the advocate for children and youth.
Bonneau, referred to as Sam in the report, was born in October 2006, an only child to his parents who lived in rural Saskatchewan. Before his birth, the Ministry of Social Services had been alerted about his mother’s mental state and a troubling relationship between his mother and father.
The first of a number of Parental Services Agreements was started when Bonneau was born, which is a voluntary agreement where the parents will work with the ministry in the best interest of the child.
When Bonneau started school in 2011, staff were able to identify his needs; he had issues with speech, learning delays and also exhibited inappropriate behavior. Bonneau started working with specialists while his mother had visits from a school social worker to help her to parent to his needs.
The school also reported concerns to the ministry of social services about physical harm to Bonneau. These concerns were never recorded in a file or followed up on.
Bonneau’s parents separated in September 2012 and Bonneau was put in his mother’s care. He would remain in her care despite several reports of physical harm to Bonneau. His mother was supposed to be getting parenting supports, however the ministry of social services told the child’s advocate that “they did not want to overwhelm Sam’s mother with too much information.” Her mental issues were also not addressed.
Bonneau was taken from his mother’s care when she told a social worker she felt suicidal. In June 2013, Bonneau was placed in the care of extended family. He would enter his first foster home in July where he would remain for about a month. His foster mother told the advocate that his needs were too complex for her, and she wasn’t given any information as to what those needs were.
Bonneau began staying with his final foster home on August 1. He thrived at the family’s farm and had visits from his parents on several occasions until his death.
The other boy in the report was referred to as Derek. Derek was born the youngest of six children in a home where, at times, one parent would be absent. While he was described as a “bright and joyful” child to the advocate, he exhibited concerning behavior that often prompted concerns from community members, school staff, the RCMP and social workers.
The Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services (YTCCFS) provided child welfare services for the area. It received its first report concerning Derek’s family in November 2008. Someone in the community was worried that the needs of the children in Derek’s family weren’t being met. An investigation into this concern wasn’t launched until three months later. Derek’s school contacted YTCCFS in March 2009 worried about his behavior, the school saying Derek’s behavior indicated that he may have experienced harm. The school would follow up with another letter in August and a third in October. The October letter was also sent to the RCMP as the school hadn’t gotten a response from YTCCFS.
While the school began to address Derek’s needs and how to best treat them, these were never communicated to YTCCFS. The report says “this fundamental lack of communication delayed important services for Derek.”
RCMP suspected Derek to be one of two boys responsible for an attack on a home and a dog in May 2011. The home had been broken into and a pregnant dog had been killed. Derek was only eight and a half at the time. The Mounties informed YTCCFS about what happened. The report found that the YTCCFS file about the report was never completed, and services required by law to anyone believed to have committed an act like this were never provided to Derek.
When Derek was 10 years old, he was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, part of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. He was also found to have mild cognitive and language delays.
In August 2012, Derek’s father was charged and convicted of assaulting the boy.
The RCMP continued reporting concerns to YTCCFS about Derek and his behavior, including inappropriate actions towards another boy in the community. The advocate’s report outlines how, at times, YTCCFS and the RCMP believed the other was working on Derek’s case without proper communication between the two.
In April 2013, a safety assessment by YTCCFS found Derek may be at risk of harming himself or other children.
Bonneau had gone with his foster mother to a recreation centre on the evening of August 21. His foster father was supposed to pick him up from the centre around 8:30 p.m. Shortly before that, Bonneau was given some money for the centre’s concession.
About 15 minutes had passed when Bonneau’s foster mother realized he was missing. She began looking for him and was joined by others in the search. An hour and a half later, they found Bonneau’s body. He was in a secluded area and had been seriously hurt.
Bonneau was pronounced dead shortly after midnight before he could be airlifted for more medical help. A forensic pathologist would later find the cause of Bonneau’s death was blunt force trauma.
RCMP suspected Derek was responsible for Bonneau’s death and took him into custody that night. Because of his age, he will never be charged.
Pringle’s report provides 18 recommendations to the province.
"The bottom line is that these children didn't get the services they needed. Nor did their families and we can see that when that happens, catastrophic things occur," Pringle told the media. His recommendations outline developing poverty reduction strategies, stronger policies about family visit schedules and improvements needed for caseload size.
"If workloads aren't addressed, and workers are saying we didn't do this because they didn't have time, that's a non-compliance issue. If workers don't get the training some of them are saying they need, if the quality of supervision doesn't improve, if the oversight doesn't get better, if we don't start measuring the quality of casework, then bad things are going to happen."
Pringle is appalled by the services provided, and not provided, to both boys.
"The services provided to Derek were absolutely fundamentally unacceptable. The quality was just atrocious and that has to improve....in Sam's case as well, there were issues when he was one and then virtually no support to him until he was five and in school."
Pringle says improvements need to be seen on a number of levels throughout the province. Real change can only be made if things get better everywhere.
"When the Ministry of Social Services can tell me that they're meeting their case planning and case contact standards, and this agency can say the same thing, then they'll be in a better position to say that children are safe. But if they're not meeting their case planning and case contact standards, then they can't say that."
YTC raises doubt about Children's Advocate report
Pringle's report calls YTC's response to child's needs "inadequate"
The Yorkton Tribal Council (YTC) is expressing doubt about some aspects of an investigation into the murder of a six-year-old foster boy.
The Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth released a report Wednesday following his investigation into the death of Lee Bonneau. The young boy was murdered by a 10 year old on the Kahkewistahaw First Nation last August. That 10 year old was getting services from the Yorkton Tribal Council.
In Bob Pringle's report, he says the YTC’s response to concerns that were raised about the boy were “inadequate.” The report states the first documented contact between Derek’s family and the Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services was November 2008. The report goes on to say that various red flags were not properly followed up on including three separate reports from the school asking the agency for help, a diagnosis of FASD, and an incident where Derek was implicated in killing a pregnant dog.
The report states that the agency conducted a home visit on March 8, 2013.
“This was the first documented instance throughout the four and a half years of Agency involvement where Derek was actually spoken to by an Agency staff member,” states the report.
The director of the YTC Child and Family Services tried calling the accuracy of that into question Wednesday during a news conference.
“I’m going to have to check that out,” said Raymond Shingoose. “We have to look at the accuracy of that statement in his report.”
Shingoose said he is unsure whether the Advocate took into account other service providers who may have met with Derek. Pringle calls that “nonsense.”
“I reject that because we interviewed every staff member who was involved who had a role with this family,” said Pringle Thursday morning to guest host Murray Wood on John Gormley Live.
Pringle went on to say he shared the report with those he interviewed.
“We gave them the report three weeks ago,” said Pringle. “We gave them the report to check out the facts, to give us feedback, to correct something they felt might have been out of context or wrong.”
Pringle says he met with Shingoose, representatives of the YTC Youth and Child Services board, and representatives of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) last week. He says no one raised concerns with the report.
The Minister of Social Services June Draude said yesterday she accepted the report and accepted the findings.
“We had the blessing of the chief, we had the blessing of the organization to come in and do a review,” said Pringle. “Then when I go out to Yorkton a week ago, I’m told by the FSIN that, ‘You’re an outsider. You don’t have any jurisdiction here. And we don’t have to talk to you and we’re not going to accept your report.’”
Pringle wouldn’t say on-air who specifically said that to him in the meeting, however, Pringle did say he’s offered to meet with the groups to go over the report again.
News Talk Radio has put in a request to speak to the FSIN to get its response.
In a statement released earlier Thursday, Vice Chief Kim Jonathan highlighted that while improvements are needed in our child wellfare system, cultural and jurisdictional need to be respected. The statement went on to cite the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples reference to the rights of self-determination, including the rights of Indigenous children.
In a statement Thursday from Draude, the minister affirmed that the Advocate's role in this case is appropriate and neccessary.
“Our government firmly believes that the role of the Advocate for Children and Youth extends to all children and youth in Saskatchewan, regardless of their location.”
Ayn Gets Surgery
September 4, 2013 permalink
Ayn Van Dyk is getting surgery. Just at the moment she most needs her parents, they are being excluded from her life. The announcement last December that Ayn was going home has turned out to be a cruel hoax.
MOTHER DISALLOWED FROM ATTENDING DAUGHTER'S SURGERY
BULLETIN - that's how want to announce this but it really doesn't come as a surprise. The Ministry of Children and Family Development has notified Amie and Derek that their 12 year old daughter who is presently in foster care, will undergo surgery (unspecificed to us) at Children's Hospital on Tuesday. They have also been told they cannot see her there. And she cannot see them. Don't you think that a child, particularly one who is autistic and in a clinical environment with strangers would benefit emotionally from the comforting presence of people who love her? Well that's the way we untrained, unprofessional, ordinary people think. It's the way a mother thinks. Listen to her sadly vent on her Facebook page. She did that in part because she has a support network who listen and communicate.
And who told you this Amie? "Right before I had to work tonight. From the foster parent. I'd like an explanation. We can't always get what we want , now can we? You are curious? This is my life. If you'd like to know why, so would I.More importantly, this is Ayn's life. And this is bullshit. I need all the strength I can get right now because I'm out of reserves. This is wrong. I don't know if I can go on. Then I think of my beautiful little girl for a second and I know I will go on.
"I love me daughter. I have been waiting for the system. I'm done waiting. The last 2 years of my child's life have been stolen. I'm done bargaining. Where do you draw the line? If it was your son or daughter? When can you say the powers that be are wrong? They subverted a court by pretending to co-operate. It's now over 2 years."
"And suddenly I can't see my child. I guess I need to speak to the social worker for clarification. I'd better get it soon or there will be consequences. And suddenly I can't see my child. I guess I need to speak to the social worker for clarification. I'd better get it soon or there will be consequences. I do know that my 12 year old has surgery at Children's on Tuesday and that I can't see my daughter without further clarification from the 7th social worker to date. I can be at Childrens for surgery. I just can't see my girl right now. It's extremely embarrassing but I realize I have nothing to be embarrassed by. I'm a damn good mother."
My daughter wants her mom. And her dad. Funny they think it will be smooth sailing with my little girl, lmao
Source: Ron Unruh blog
September 2, 2013 permalink
Critical views of adoption are starting to infiltrate mainstream opinion, as shown by this article in the New Republic.
Meet the New Anti-Adoption Movement The surprising next frontier in reproductive justice
For a long time, Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy thought of herself as an adoption success story. Pregnant at 18 from an affair with her boss, she denied the pregnancy until her coworkers began to notice. Too far along to get an abortion, she looked up an adoption agency in the Yellow Pages and found herself agreeing to move to Boston and live with a host family until she gave birth. Her son, who she calls Max (his adoptive parents gave him a different name), was born in November of 1987 and handed over to a couple Corrigan D’Arcy had only seen in photos. And that was that.
She told herself she’d done the smart thing. She’d given her son a two-parent family of means. It wasn’t until more than a decade later that Corrigan D’Arcy, by then married and the mother of three more children, began to rethink what had happened.
By having her move to a new state while pregnant, she felt the agency was purposely isolating her from friends and family who might have helped her. Though she knew who her baby’s father was, the agency told her not to tell him she was pregnant. She could have sued him for child support—he was a wealthy lawyer—but the adoption agency didn’t talk about that, only about the hardships she would face as a “welfare mom,” should she keep her child. They called her a “family-building angel” and a “saint” for considering adoption. “It was crazy subtle, subtle, subtle brainwashing,” she told me recently.
Adoption has long been perceived as the win-win way out of a a difficult situation. An unwed mother gets rid of the child she’s not equipped to care for; an adoptive family gets a much-wanted child. But people are increasingly realizing that the industry is not nearly as well-regulated and ethical as it should be. There are issues of coercion, corruption, and lack of transparency that are only now being fully addressed.
The past decade has seen the rise of a broad and loose coalition of activists out to change the way adoption works in America. This coalition makes bedfellows of people who would ordinarily have nothing to do with each other: Mormon and fundamentalist women who feel they were pressured by their churches, progressives who believe adoption is a classist institution that takes the children of the young and poor and gives them to the wealthier and better-educated, and adoptive parents who have had traumatic experiences with corrupt adoption agencies.
Some women, like Corrigan D’Arcy, blog their stories. They run message boards with names like “First Mother Forum” and “Pound Pup Legacy,” full of tales of bitterly regretted adoptions. They hold retreats for birthmothers and adoptees. They’ve formed several grassroots activist organizations, including Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform, Origins-USA, and Concerned United Birthparents. Some call themselves adoption reformers. Others prefer terms such as “adoption truth advocate.” A few will come straight out and say they’re anti-adoption.
They want, among other things, a ban on adoption agencies offering monetary support to pregnant women. They want to see laws put in place guaranteeing that “open” adoptions (where birthparents have some level of contact with their children) stay open. They want women to have more time after birth to decide whether to terminate their parental rights. These activists have become increasingly loud of late, holding prominent rallies, organizing online, and winning several recent legislative victories.
Reproduce justice activists tend to focus on rights to contraception and abortion. But these adoption reforms are equally important when it comes to men and women having full control of their destinies.
Adoption in America has changed vastly since the end of the so-called “Baby Scoop Era” in the early 1970s, when many pregnant young women were “sent away” and their babies offered up for adoption as a matter of course. Thanks to legalized abortion and a drastic lessening of the stigma against unwed mothers, the number of babies available domestically has been shrinking since the mid-'70s. Fifty years ago, about 9 percent of babies born to unmarried women were placed for adoption. Today that number is 1 percent. All in all, there are about 14,000 domestic infant adoptions a year, comprising only about 15 percent of U.S. adoptions. (The rest are from the foster care system, or are international.)
But for young women who do find themselves pregnant and unmarried, the pressure to choose adoption is still present. Much of this pressure still comes from organized religion. Andrea Mills, 38, has placed four of her children for adoption through the Mormon Church’s LDS Family Services program over the past 13 years. Mormonism forbids abortion, considers premarital sex taboo, and frowns upon single parenthood. When Mills initially voiced uncertainty about adoption, the counselor handling her case insisted it was her best option, saying “This is what God wanted." The nation’s 4,000-odd “crisis pregnancy centers,” anti-choice organizations, are often affiliated with evangelical Christian maternity homes and Christian adoption agencies. “Pregnant? Scared?” their ads ask on billboards and in bar bathroom posters; “We can help.”
Even non-religious adoption agencies practice what some say is subtle coercion. Agencies offer pregnant women financial assistance—for rent, groceries, medical bills, maternity clothes, even cellphones. Some even offer college scholarships for women who go through with adoptions. Agencies frequently warn women about a “post-abortion syndrome” of lasting depression and guilt, though mainstream medical organizations dismissed these warnings. (Adoption, on the other hand, is known to cause “a sense of loss that is all-encompassing," says the U.S. Administration for Children and Families.) Adoption counselors are frequently adoptive parents themselves, which puts them in a less-than-neutral position.
While the ubiquity of open adoption—today 95 percent of all adoptions include some kind of contact between birthparents and children—is universally seen as a step forward, it can present its own challenges. Pregnant women, encouraged to choose and bond with an adoptive couple before the baby is born, often get the impression that they and the couple are going to be “kind of co-parents,” says Kathryn Joyce, the author of The Child Catchers, an expose on corruption in the adoption industry. But then, when the baby is born and relinquished, the couple closes ranks, wanting—understandably enough—to cocoon as a family. The birthmother is left feeling like, in Joyce’s words, “’you were all over me when I was pregnant, but now that you have the baby you don’t want anything to do with me.’”
Responding to all this, adoption reformers have been lobbying state governments for a number of specific changes.
First, there’s the matter of timing. In some states, such as Utah, a woman can sign papers irrevocably terminating her parental rights 24 hours after giving birth. At this point, a woman is still in the hospital, exhausted and possibly under the influence of painkillers. In more than half of all states, irrevocable termination of parental rights can be established in fewer than four days. “We believe that this is by no means a sufficient time period to make an irreversible, life-altering decision with consequences for many people,” says Concerned United Birthparents, an adoption reform group, which would like to extend the period to 30 days.
But public opinion tends to favor shorter waiting times, sympathetic to the pain of adoptive parents who have babies taken away after a birthmother changes her mind. (A reality show on Logo TV called “The Baby Wait” focuses on this limbo period, its allegiances clearly lying with the prospective adoptive couples.) In April, Kansas eliminated its 30-day post-birth waiting period, allowing adoptions to be finalized within the first 24 hours. This act was generally reported as an uncontroversial good.
There has been a bit more progress on open adoption. Fewer than half of U.S. states regulate open adoption agreements. In the rest, openness depends on the whim of the adoptive parents, many of whom soon tire of feeling they’re sharing their child. In Mills’s case, a supposedly open adoption became “don’t call us, we’ll call you,” she says. Georgia enacted a law in May that makes open adoption contracts legally binding, meaning birthparents are guaranteed access to their children as often as their agreed-upon contracts specify. Utah passed a similar measure earlier this year, but only for children adopted from state custody.
In August, the Adoptee Rights Coalition rallied around the issue of access to birth certificates. Currently, only a handful of states allow unrestricted access to original birth certificates. But the recent phenomenon of adoptees searching for, and sometimes finding, their birthparents via Facebook has highlighted the need for action. Though people imagine that birth mothers want their privacy, Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, says that only a tiny minority actually want to withhold their identifying details from their children permanently. In May, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a new law giving some, but not all, adoptees access to their original birth certificates, a partial win for reformers that left many unhappy. Pennsylvania’s legislature will likely vote on a similar bill this fall, as will Ohio’s, after numerous failed attempts by adoption reform groups in both states to pass such legislation. Another bill was passed by the New Jersey legislature, but conditionally vetoed by Governor Chris Christie in 2011.
Very few activists are claiming that adoption shouldn’t be an option, but the activists currently involved in the issue recognize that adoption is far from the perfect solution it was so long perceived to be. It’s a difficult, life-changing decision with ramifications that last a lifetime. As such, it needs to be treated with the utmost transparency and a much higher degree of ethical oversight, legal and otherwise.
“I would rather see us live in a society where we say to struggling pregnant women, ‘OK you have a problem, we should try to fix the whole situation,’” says Corrigan D’Arcy, “rather than remove the child and leave the mother in crisis.” One of the most important events of her recent life was locating her now-teenage son via MySpace. “Every portion of finding him, whether it was just finding that he was alive or finding where he is, I felt one step lighter, one step closer to being who I was really supposed to be.”
Emily Matchar has written for The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and Salon. She’s the author of Homeward Bound (Simon & Schuster, 2013).
Image via Shutterstock.
Source: The New Republic
Boy Hospitalized After Booze Party
September 1, 2013 permalink
Stephen Vinczer, the twelve-year-old son of active Canada Court Watch member Attila Vinczer, was hospitalized after a party at which he was served excessive quantities of alcohol. The hospital tested his alcohol at toxic levels.
Newmarket woman charged after boy given booze at party
A 49-year-old Newmarket woman has been charged with giving alcohol to a minor during a house party.
Police were called to investigate after Attila Vinczer, a Newmarket man, said his 12-year-old son, Steven, suffered alcohol poisoning and had to be rushed to the hospital after a party at which he admitted to drinking numerous “porn star cocktails”.
Before allowing his son to attend, Mr. Vinczer said he was assured during an telephone call that there would be parental supervision the night of the party.
“I was told an adult would be there and the kids would be safe and I had no reason to disbelieve that,” the single father said.
“I was given the impression there would be sufficient adult supervision.”
However, when it came time for pick up at 11 p.m., Mr. Vinczer was shocked to see his stumbling son being led to his car by two young girls.
“Things didn’t look right,” he said.
After inquiring what had gone wrong, the two girls allegedly told him that Steven must have spent too much time in the sun.
And when he asked if drugs or alcohol had been involved, they replied no.
When Mr. Vinczer talked to his son and asked him what was wrong, all he got in reply was incoherent mumbling and something about drinking “pop”.
Unsure if the problem was alcohol or a medical condition, Mr. Vinczer rushed his son to Southlake Regional Health Centre.
Once in emergency, medical staff treated the boy and hooked him to life-monitoring devices, he said.
Before long, he vomited.
“It was at that point that I smelled booze,” Mr. Vinczer said. “I am quite a calm person by nature, but, inside, I was just livid that something like this could have happened.”
After eight hours in hospital, where Steven’s body was hooked up to an intravenous and flushed of all alcohol, the 48-year-old and his son finally went home at 7 a.m.
According to Mr. Vinczer, doctors said Steven had consumed so much liquor that at that level, even an adult would be on the verge of alcohol poisoning.
The next morning, he said his son received texts from friends who reported feeling ill and regretting the night before, when they were drinking a concoction of two different types of liqueur and 7-Up.
Prompted by doctors, Mr. Vinczer said he called police to get to the bottom of what happened, which Steven said involved five young people in their early teens or younger.
As for Mr. Vinczer, he has been left in disbelief by the incident, which took place in late June.
“It really, really bothered me,” the business consultant said. “I take immense care to make sure my kids are safe from this kind of activity. I just can’t believe that by allowing him to go to a party for 2-1/2 hours, he could get into this deep of a problem. He’s not even in Grade 8 yet.”
A Newmarket woman is charged with knowingly supplying liquor to a person under the age of 19, York Regional Police confirmed yesterday.
Click here to read a letter to the editor Mr. Vinczer wrote to York Region Media Group.
Source: Metroland / York Region
It’s not acceptable to give your kids booze
I am dumbfounded by adults, including parents, who feel it is acceptable to provide drugs and alcohol to minors.
This leads to a growing systemic social issue where children grow up accustomed to drinking and doing drugs from an early age.
Often, these young minds are under the influence and get behind the wheel of a car, having dire consequences and even causing death.
So why do some adults think this is a good idea or acceptable when our laws say otherwise?
Are they doing it to fit in with their kids and their friends to be hip?
A single Newmarket mother was charged with providing alcohol to a minor after an incident that sent a 12-year-old boy to hospital with his blood alcohol level so high, it neared that of an adult with alcohol poisoning.
In addition to the terrible negative impact on children, providing alcohol to minors can lead to charges under the Liquor Licence Act and Criminal Code of Canada.
Both can lead to jail time for the offender.
Laws prohibit a parent/adult from engaging in any vice to the detriment of the morals of children.
Harming a child is negligent, at the least.
A 15-year-old has been charged in the death of York Regional Police Const. Garrett Styles after the officer was dragged to his death during a traffic stop.
Do we want children to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol to further cloud their thinking?
Despite recent media coverage of the ill effects of youth drinking and drug use, it seems some adults and parents are not getting the message that this is very dangerous and very wrong.
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau should rethink his position of legalizing recreational marijuana.
How can we expect our youth to be responsible when adults are showing they’re not by providing them with alcohol?
Attila L. Vinczer
Source: Metroland / York Region
Mr Vinczer suggests continuing to outlaw alcohol and drugs for minors. But this is an area where laws may be doing more harm than good. As it is now, parents cannot call on professional help for their children with drug or alcohol problems. Doing so risks jail or child seizure under pretext of protection. If these inevitable acts were lawful, therapists could be called without fear.
Seeing the Future
September 1, 2013 permalink
Clairvoyant British social workers can see child abuse before it happens. In one year they put more then 4000 unborn babies on the at-risk register.
Tragedy of 4,000 babies placed on 'at risk' register... before they're born
- New figures mark a 13per cent increase over two years deemed at risk of physical or emotional negligence
- Campaigners said to put unborn children on register presumes parents will be negligent
Thousands of babies are being put on ‘at risk’ registers by social workers before they are even born, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
And campaigners say the system is weighted to presume that parents will be unable to adequately care for their children.
New figures released under Freedom of Information laws show that more than 4,000 child protection plans – which are automatically implemented for those registered as at risk – were initiated last year in England for babies still in the womb, which represents a 13 per cent increase over two years.
The figure for the UK as a whole is likely to be nearer 5,000, and hundreds of babies are being taken into care each year within days of birth.
Most put on the registers were deemed at risk of neglect or of physical or emotional abuse, while others were exposed to dangers associated with having parents who were drug addicts, alcoholics or had serious criminal convictions.
Child protection experts insist it is right to keep newborns away from potentially dangerous parents, and argue they have to be more cautious following cases such as the death of Baby P, later named as Peter Connelly, and four-year-old Daniel Pelka, who was starved and beaten by his mother and her lover, finally dying of a severe head injury.
But opponents of the system say that it presumes guilt and that social workers are removing children to cover their own backs.
John Hemming, a Lib Dem MP and vocal critic of the fostering and adoption process, said: ‘There can be good reasons to put an unborn child on a child protection plan.
'But the system can lead to the wrongful removal of very young babies for all sorts of strange reasons. Once children are removed, only about 20 per cent go back to their parents.’
He continued: ‘With child protection, not every case is a Baby P case. But I know that social workers have been fired for saying that a child should go home to its parents. If you put them under that sort of pressure, they are going to say the child should be adopted.’
Ian Josephs, who provides informal legal advice to parents, said: ‘These parents are being punished without committing a crime. In the family courts, they are guilty until proven innocent.’
A child may be put on a protection register if doctors or social workers fear for its safety. The parents are invited to discuss the matter but do not have to be present for the child to be placed on the register. No court order is needed.
Once a child is registered as at risk, a protection plan will be drawn up. In most cases, it will prescribe regular visits from social workers to check on the child.
But the plans can also be a precursor to court proceedings that will have the child taken into care.
The latest figures from the Department for Education show that 52,120 under-18s became the subject of child protection plans in England in the year ending March 31 2012.
Separate statistics obtained by this newspaper show that at least 4,044 – or almost eight per cent – related to unborn babies. That number grew to 4,153 in the year to March 2013, and was up 13 per cent over two years.
The true numbers are likely to be higher still because 41 of 152 councils failed to respond.
Those that did reply took 179 infants into care on the day they were born, in the year to March 2013. Many more are likely to have been removed within a few weeks.
Bridget Robb, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers, said: ‘No professional wants to see children subjected to child protection plans.
‘But the increased vigilance arising from baby Peter Connelly’s tragic death has inevitably exposed more instances where sufficiently serious concern exists that children’s services feel the need to at least monitor a family closely.’
Source: Daily Mail
Dutch Child Protectors Ignore Appellate Court
September 1, 2013 permalink
Christopher Booker does another report on the children of Jelena Antonova. When an appellate court twice castigated authorities for keeping the children, the Dutch child protection board got permission from a lower court to retain custody.
Dutch family is still fighting the system
A shocking Continental case closely parallels what goes on in our own child protection system
On June 1, under the heading “Dutch social workers catch the English disease”, I reported on the fight of a Russian-Latvian mother, Jelena Antonova, to be reunited with her 10-year-old twin children who were last year snatched by Dutch police – to be held miserably in foster homes, at a cost to Dutch taxpayers of 100,000 euros a year. A chilling video posted by her 24-year-old son Ilja on YouTube shows the children being carried out kicking and screaming by burly policemen to a waiting van. I gather that the wife of one of the policemen was so horrified to see what her husband got up to at work, when she thought he was out catching criminals, that she is suing for divorce.
I reported this story, which has attracted critical attention from the media in several countries, the European Parliament and recently a long article in Holland’s leading newspaper, De Telegraaf, because it so closely parallelled the kind of cases regularly featured in this column, where our own social workers snatch children from their families for what seem totally absurd reasons (the chief reason offered by the social workers in the Dutch case was that the twins spoke Russian at home rather than Dutch).
In 2009, the Dutch families ministry issued a press release describing a visit to London by its minister for children, quoting him saying that the work of Britain’s social workers was an “inspiration” that Holland would do well to follow.
But in one respect it seems that the Dutch go even further than their British counterparts. Twice recently, the Dutch court of appeal has castigated the handling of this case by the authorities, ruling that the children should be returned to their mother. But each time the child protection board, part of the justice ministry, has simply gone to a lower family court to apply, successfully, for the children to remain in “care”, first for three more months, now for a year.
At least in Britain no lower court would dare to reverse the rulings of our own Court of Appeal. But the family’s doughty legal team say that in many years of experience they have never known anything like this before. They now plan to return yet again to the appeal court, to have the family reunited as the court so clearly wished it to be.
Source: Telegraph (UK)