Child protection


Child protection

Child protection is used to describe a set of usually government-run services designed to protect children and young people who are underage and to encourage family stability. These typically include foster care, adoption services, services aimed at supporting at-risk families so they can remain intact, and investigation of alleged child abuse.

Most children who come to the attention of the child welfare system do so because of any of the following situations, which are often collectively termed child abuse:

The United States government's Administration for Children and Families reported that in 2004 approximately 3.5 million children were involved in investigations of alleged abuse or neglect in the US, while an estimated 872,000 children were determined to have been abused or neglected and an estimated 1,490 children died that year because of abuse or neglect. In 2007, 1,760 children died as the result of child abuse and neglect.[1] Child abuse impacts the most vulnerable populations with children under age five years accounting for 76% of fatalities.[2] In 2008, 8.3 children per 1000 were victims of child abuse and neglect and 10.2 children per 1000 were in out of home placement.[3]

Contents

History

The concept of a state sanctioned child welfare system dates back to Plato's Republic. Plato theorised that the interests of the child could be served by removing children from the care of their parents and placing them into state custody. To prevent an uprising from dispossessed parents: "We shall have to invent some ingenious kind of lots which the less worthy may draw on each occasion of our bringing them together, and then they will accuse their own ill-luck and not the rulers."[4]
Provincial or state governments child protection legislation which empowers the government department or agency to provide services in the area and to intervene into families where child abuse or other problems are suspected. The agency that manages these services has various names in different provinces and states, e.g., department of children's services, children's aid, department of child and family services. There is some consistency in the nature of laws, though the application of the laws varies across the country.

The United Nations has addressed child abuse as a human rights issue, adding a section specifically to children in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
“Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding… should be afforded the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.”

U.S. History

In 1853, the Children's Aid Society[5] was founded in response to the problem of orphaned or abandoned children living in New York. Rather than allow these children to become institutionalized or continue to live on the streets, the children were placed in the first “foster” homes, but typically with the intention of helping these families work their farms.[6][7]

In 1874, the first case of child abuse was criminally prosecuted in what has come to be known as the “case of Mary Ellen.” Outrage over this case started an organized effort against child maltreatment [8] In 1909, President Roosevelt convened the White House Conference on Child Dependency, which created a publicly funded volunteer organization to “establish and publicize standards of child care.”[6] By 1926, 18 states had some version of county child welfare boards whose purpose was to coordinate public and private child related work.[7] Issues of abuse and neglect were addressed in the Social Security Act in 1930, which provided funding for intervention for “neglected and dependent children in danger of becoming delinquent.” [8]

In the 1940s and 1950s, due to improved technology in diagnostic radiology, the medical profession began to take notice of what they believed to be intentional injuries.[9] In 1961, Dr. Kempe[10] began to further research this issue, eventually coining the term “battered child syndrome.”[9] At this same time, there were also changing views about the role of the child in society, fueled in part by the civil rights movement.[7]

In 1973, congress took the first steps toward enacting federal legislature to address the issue of child abuse. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act[11] was passed in 1974, which required states “to prevent, identify and treat child abuse and neglect.” [8]

Shortly thereafter, in 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was passed. This act was passed in response to concerns that large numbers of Native American Children were being separated from their tribes and placed in foster care.[12] This legislation not only opened the door for consideration of cultural issues while stressing ideas that children should be with their families, leading to the beginnings of family preservation programs.[13]

In 1980, the Adoption Assistance Act[14] was introduced as a way to manage the high numbers of children in placement.[7] Although this legislation addressed some of the complaints from earlier pieces of legislation around ensuring due process for parents, these changes did not alleviate the high numbers of children in placement or continuing delays in permanence.[13] This led to the introduction of the home visitation models, which provided funding to private agencies to provide intensive family preservation services.[7]

In addition to family preservation services, the focus of federal child welfare policy changed to try to address permanence for the large numbers of foster children care.[13] Several pieces of federal legislation attempted to ease the process of adoption including Adoption Assistance Act,[15] 1988 Child Abuse and Prevention and Adoption and Family Services Act, 1992 Child Abuse, Domestic Violence and Adoption and Family Services Act . The 1994 Multi Ethnic Placement Act, which was revised in 1996 to add the Interethnic Placement Provisions, also attempted to promote permanency through adoption, creating regulations that adoptions could not be delayed or denied due to issues of race, color or national origin of the child or the adoptive parent.[16]

All of these policies led up to the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act(ASFA), much of which guides current practice. Changes in the Adoptions and Safe Families Act showed a interest in both protecting children’s safety and developing permanency.[16] This law requires counties to provide “reasonable efforts” (treatment) to preserve or reunify families, but also shortened time lines required for permanence, leading to termination of parental rights should these efforts fail.[7][16] ASFA introduced the idea of “concurrent planning” which demonstrated attempts to reunify families as the first plan, but to have a back-up plan so as not to delay permanency for children (Michell, et al. 2005).

Worldwide

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has a comprehensive child welfare system under which Local Authorities have duties and responsibilities towards children in need in their area. This covers provision of advice and services, accommodation and care of children who become uncared for, and also the capacity to initiate proceedings for the removal of children from their parents care/care proceedings. The criteria for the latter is 'significant harm' which covers physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect. In appropriate cases the Care Plan before the Court will be for adoption. The Local Authorities also run adoption services both for children put up for adoption voluntarily and those becoming available for adoption through Court proceedings. The basic legal principle in all public and private proceedings concerning children, under the Children Act 1989, is that the welfare of the child is paramount. In recognition of attachment issues, social work good practice requires a minimal number of moves and the 1989 Children Act enshrines the principle that delay is inimical to a child's welfare. Care proceedings have a time frame of 40 weeks and concurrent planning is required. The final Care Plan put forward by the Local Authority is required to provide a plan for permanence, whether with parents, family members, long-term foster parents or adopters. Nevertheless, 'drift' and multiple placements still occur as many older children are difficult to place or maintain in placements. The role of Independent Visitor, a voluntary post, was created in the United Kingdom under the 1989 Children Act to befriend and assist children and young people in care.

In England, Wales and Scotland, there never has been a statutory obligation to report alleged child abuse to the Police. However both the Children Act 1989 and 2004 makes clear a statutory obligation on all professionals to report suspected child abuse.

The statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006 created the role of Local Authority Designated Officer, "LADO". This officer is responsible for managing allegations of abuse against adults who work with children (Teachers, Social Workers,Church leaders, Youth Workers etc.).

Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB's) are responsible ensuring agencies and professionals,in their area,effectivley safeguard and promote the welfare of children. In the event of the death or serious injury of a child, LSCB's can initiate a 'Serious Case Review' aimed at identifying agency failings and improving future practice.

The planned ContactPoint database, under which information on children is shared between professionals, has been halted by the newly elected coalition government (May 2010). The database was aimed at improving information sharing across agencies. Lack of information sharing had been identified as a failing in numerous high profile child death cases. Critics of the scheme claimed it was evidence of a 'big brother state' and too expensive to introduce.

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006 (updated in 2010) and the subsequent 'The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report' (Laming, 2009) continue to promote the sharing of data between those working with vulnerable children.[17]

A child in suitable cases can be made a ward of court and no decisions about the child or changes in its life can be made without the leave of the High Court.

In England the Murder of Victoria Climbié was largely responsible for various changes in child protection in England, including the formation of the Every Child Matters programme in 2003. A similar programme - Getting it Right for Every Child - GIRFEC was established in Scotland in 2008.

Canada

In Ontario, services are provided by independent Children's Aid Societies.[18] The societies receive funding from, and are under the supervision of the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services.[19] However, they are regarded as a Non-governmental organization (NGO) which allows the CAS a large degree of autonomy from interference or direction in the day to day running of CAS by the Ministry. The Child and Family Services Review Board exists to investigate complaints against CAS and maintains authority to act against the societies. [20]

Effects of early maltreatment on children in child welfare

Children with histories of maltreatment, such as physical and psychological neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse, are at risk of developing psychiatric problems.[21][22] Such children are at risk of developing a disorganized attachment.[23][24][25] Disorganized attachment is associated with a number of developmental problems, including dissociative symptoms,[26] as well as depressive, anxiety, and acting-out symptoms.[27][28]

Ideology of Child Protection

When a case of child abuse is reported, an investigation begins. This can result in significantly different responses from the affected family and the child protection service workers. The family experiences fear, anxiety, and the need to cope with the situation, whereas the professional has to stick to procedures to avoid blame in case something goes wrong. The best outcome for the child occurs if the congruence between professional and family perspectives is high. Ideology associated with child protection involve distinct discourses, which are people’s communication practices at an intersubjective level. These ideological discourses are blame, bureaucratic, medical, penal, humanistic, and technocratic. The blame discourse involves people holding others, like the parent or social worker, responsible in case something bad happens to the child. Here, the media might be used as a tool for moral crusades. Bureaucratic procedures engage all the steps which an organization like Child Protection Service has undertake, e.g. case conferences, reviews, registers, etc. Hereby, the purpose is to avoid criticism. From the medical perspective, the offender is viewed as an individual with a medical history, syndromes, and pathology. The purpose is to treat and cure the parent, with the aid of medical expertise and technology. The penal discourse implies the legal actions that follow the act of depravity or abuse punishing the offender. Humanistic discourse encompasses sympathy or feelings of pity that the Child Protection worker might have towards people who are responsible for the situation in which the victim is in. The technocratic discourse involves risk assessment gadgets in order to solve the situation. Here, a mechanical classification and processing of the client is thought to be useful.[29]

Criticism

Despite the benefits of the services of the CPS, in the last two decades, the CPS has come under intense private and public scrutiny as an institution than can and has caused great harm in the name of protection. Although child welfare agencies are generally viewed positively, there has been an increase in the amount of cases where critics believe CPS have reacted out of their bounds.

A notable recent case is the family of Gary and Melissa Gates in Texas. The school called the local CPS and requested the Child Protective Services forcibly remove all thirteen of the Gates children and take them to foster homes under a court order which allowed an Emergency Removal, when there is clear evidence of danger to the physical health & safety of the child. The local CPS gave the explanation that they felt, quote, "Mr. Gates was uncooperative and his uncooperativeness with us put the children at risk." Even though the court ordered the children to be returned, CPS continues to classify the Gates as child abusers. Some have accused the CPS of having too much immediate power leaving the parents feeling lost and aggravated. The CPS has been accused of prejudging parents before proper investigations were done.

An ongoing case about Nastic family living in U.S. has received an intervention from the Serbia government. Children were taken away from their parents after their naked photos were found on the father's computer. Such photos are common in Serbia culture. Furthermore, parents claim that their ethnic and religious rights have been violated - children are not permitted to speak Serbian, nor to meet with their parents for orthodox Christmas. They can meet only mother once a week. Children have suffered psychological traumas due to their separation from parents. Polygraph showed that father did not abuse children. Trial is set for January 26. Psychologists from Serbia stated that few hours of conversation with children are enough to see whether they have been abused. Children were taken from their family 7 months ago. FBI started an investigation against the CPS. [1] [2] [3]

Brenda Scott, in her study of CPS concluded, "Child Protective Services is out of control. The system, as it operates today, should be scrapped. If children are to be protected in their homes and in the system, radical new guidelines must be adopted. At the core of the problem is the anti-family mindset of CPS. Removal is the first resort, not the last. With insufficient checks and balances, the system that was designed to protect children has become the greatest perpetrator of harm."[30] Further to that information, several former CPS workers retired from the service, due to increasing circumstances and practices carried out by the organization.

Texas 2008 Raid of YFZ Ranch

In April 2008, the largest child protection action in American history raised questions as the CPS in Texas removed hundreds of minor children, infants, and women incorrectly believed to be children from the YFZ Ranch polygamist community, with the assistance of heavily armed police with an armored personnel carrier. Investigators, including supervisor Angie Voss convinced a judge that all of the children were at risk of child abuse because they were all being groomed for under-age marriage. The state supreme court disagreed, releasing most children back to their families. Investigations would result in criminal charges against some men in the community.

Gene Grounds of Victim Relief Ministries commended CPS workers in the Texas operation as exhibiting compassion, professionalism and caring concern.[31] However, CPS performance was questioned by workers from the Hill Country Community Mental Health-Mental Retardation Center. One wrote "I have never seen women and children treated this poorly, not to mention their civil rights being disregarded in this manner" after assisting at the emergency shelter. Others who were previously forbidden to discuss conditions working with CPS later produced unsigned written reports expressed anger at the CPS traumatizing the children, and disregarding rights of mothers who appeared to be good parents of healthy, well-behaved children. CPS threatened some MHMR workers with arrest, and the entire mental health support was dismissed the second week due to being "too compassionate." Workers believed poor sanitary conditions at the shelter allowed respiratory infections and chicken pox to spread.[32]

CPS problem reports

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, as with other states, had itself been an object of reports of unusual numbers of poisonings, death, rapes and pregnancies of children under its care since 2004. The Texas Family and Protective Services Crisis Management Team was created by executive order after the critical report Forgotten Children[33] of 2004. Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn made a statement in 2006 about the Texas foster care system.[34] In Fiscal 2003, 2004 and 2005, respectively 30, 38 and 48 foster children died in the state's care. The number of foster children in the state's care increased 24 percent to 32,474 in Fiscal 2005, while the number of deaths increased 60 percent. Compared to the general population, a child is four times more likely to die in the Texas foster care system. In 2004, about 100 children were treated for poisoning from medications; 63 were treated for rape that occurred while under state care including four-year old twin boys, and 142 children gave birth, though others believe Ms. Strayhorn's report was not scientifically researched, and that major reforms need to be put in place to assure that children in the conservatorship of the state get as much attention as those at risk in their homes.

Responsibility for misconduct

In May 2007, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found in ROGERS v. COUNTY OF SAN JOAQUIN, No. 05-16071[35] that a CPS social worker acting without due process and without exigency (emergency conditions) violated the 14th Amendment and Title 42 United State Code Section 1983. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution says that a state may not make a law that abridges "abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States" and no state may "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Title 42 United States Code Section 1983[36] states that citizens can sue a person that deprives them of their rights under the pretext of a regulation of a state.

Disproportionality & Disparity in the Child Welfare System

In the United States, data suggests that a disproportionate number of minority children, particularly African American and Native American children, enter the foster care system.[37] National data in the United States provides evidence that disproportionality may vary throughout the course of a child's involvement with the child welfare system. Differing rates of disproportionality are seen at key decision points including the reporting of abuse, substantiation of abuse, and placement into foster care.[38] Additionally, once they enter foster care, research suggests that they are likely to remain in care longer.[39] Research has shown that there is no difference in the rate of abuse and neglect among minority populations when compared to Caucasian children that would account for the disparity.[40] The Juvenile Justice system has also been challenged by disproportionate negative contact of minority children.[41] Because of the overlap in these systems, it is likely that this phenomenon within multiple systems may be related.

See also

References

  1. ^ Preventchildabuseny.org
  2. ^ Americanhumane.org
  3. ^ Kidscount.org
  4. ^ MDX.ac.uk
  5. ^ Childrensaidsociety.org
  6. ^ a b Axin, J & Levin, H (1997) Social Welfare; A history of the American Response to Need 4th ed. White Plains, NY: Longman.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Ellett, A. J., & Leighninger, L. (2007). What happened? An historical perspective of the deprofessionalization of child welfare practice with implications for policy and practice. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 1(1), 3-24.
  8. ^ a b c Crosson-Tower, C. (1999). Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect. 4th Ed. Boston: Allyn& Bacon.
  9. ^ a b Antler, S. (1978) Child Abuse: An emerging social priority. Social Work, 23, 58-61
  10. ^ Kempe.org
  11. ^ Childwelfare.gov
  12. ^ Limb, G. E., & Chance, T. (2004). An empirical examination of the Indian child welfare act and its impact on cultural and familial preservation for American Indian children. Child Abuse and Neglect, 28(12), 1279-1289
  13. ^ a b c Mitchell, L.B., Barth, R.P., Green, R., Wall, A., Biemer, P., Berrick, J. D., & Webb, M. B. (2005). Child welfare reform in the United States: Findings form a local agency survey. Child Welfare, 84(1), 5-24
  14. ^ Childwelfare.gov
  15. ^ 1980 Childwelfare.gov
  16. ^ a b c Lincroft, Y., & Resher, J. (2006). Undercounted and underserved: Immigrant and refugee families in the child welfare system. Report to the Annie E. Casey Foundation: Balitmore, MD
  17. ^ DCSF.gov.uk
  18. ^ "About Ontario's children's aid societies". Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services. http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/topics/childrensaid/childrensaidsocieties/index.aspx. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  19. ^ http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90c11_e.htm#BK10
  20. ^ "Complaints Against a Children's Aid Society". Child and Family Services Review Board. http://www.cfsrb.ca/en/cfsrb/about/history. Retrieved 17 April 2011. 
  21. ^ Gauthier, L., Stollak, G., Messe, L., & Arnoff, J. (1996). Recall of childhood neglect and physical abuse as differential predictors of current psychological functioning. Child Abuse and Neglect 20, 549-559
  22. ^ Malinosky-Rummell, R. & Hansen, D.J. (1993) Long term consequences of childhood physical abuse. Psychological Bulletin 114, 68-69
  23. ^ Lyons-Ruth K. & Jacobvitz, D. (1999) Attachment disorganization: unresolved loss, relational violence and lapses in behavioral and attentional strategies. In J. Cassidy & P. Shaver (Eds.) Handbook of Attachment. (pp. 520-554). NY: Guilford Press
  24. ^ Solomon, J. & George, C. (Eds.) (1999). Attachment Disorganization. NY: Guilford Press
  25. ^ Main, M. & Hesse, E. (1990) Parents’ Unresolved Traumatic Experiences are related to infant disorganized attachment status. In M. T. Greenberg, D. Ciccehetti, & E. M. Cummings (Eds), Attachment in the Preschool Years: Theory, Research, and Intervention (pp161-184). Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  26. ^ Carlson, E. A. (1988). A prospective longitudinal study of disorganized/disoriented attachment. Child Development 69, 1107-1128
  27. ^ Lyons-Ruth, K. (1996). Attachment relationships among children with aggressive behavior problems: The role of disorganized early attachment patterns. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 64, 64-73
  28. ^ Lyons-Ruth, K., Alpern, L., & Repacholi, B. (1993). Disorganized infant attachment classification and maternal psychosocial problems as predictors of hostile-aggressive behavior in the preschool classroom. Child Development 64, 572-585
  29. ^ Sinclair, T. (2005). Mad, bad or sad? Ideology, distorted communication and child abuse prevention. The Australian Sociological Association, 41, 227-246.
  30. ^ Scott, Brenda (1994) Out of Control. Who's Watching Our Child Protection Agencies? p. 179
  31. ^ KVUE.com, Richardson group: Polygamists' children are OK April 18, 2008 by Janet St. James / WFAA-TV
  32. ^ Crotea, Roger (10 May 2008). "Mental health workers rip CPS over sect". San Antonio Express-news . http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/metro/5770183.html. 
  33. ^ Window.state.tx.us
  34. ^ Comptroller Strayhorn Statement On Foster Care Abuse June 23, 2006
  35. ^ UScourts.gov
  36. ^ Cornell.edu
  37. ^ Hill R.B. (2004) Institutional racism in child welfare. In J. Everett, S. Chipungu & B. Leashore (Eds.) Child welfare revisited (pp. 57-76). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
  38. ^ Hill, R. B (2006) Synthesis of research on disproportionality in child welfare: An update. Casey-CSSP Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare.
  39. ^ Wulczyn, F. Lery, B., Haight, J., (2006) Entry and Exit Disparities in the Tennessee Foster Care System. Chapin Hall Discussion Paper.
  40. ^ National Incidence Study (NIS), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families, (1996)
  41. ^ Pope, C.E. & Feyerherm, W. (1995) Minorities and the Juvenile Justice System Research Symmary. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

External links

  • NCCPR Website NCCPR provides reports and information on how (US) child protection systems are performing and how to make them perform better for children.
  • "CCPAS Website" The Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) - the only independent Christian charity providing professional advice, CRB checks, support, training and resources in all areas of safeguarding children and for those affected by abuse.
  • Resist.ca (History of Child Protection in America by Kirsten Anderberg, Graduate History Student, 2009)
  • HHS.gov (accessed 8/4/06)
  • HHS.com (accessed 8/4/06)
  • Childwelfare.org (accessed 10/19/06)
  • Wikichild.org (accessed 21/07/11)
  • A Report Card on Child Protection. (PDF-File, 991 KB) — United Nations Children’s Fund: Progress for Children, Number 8. September 2009.

Further reading

  • McCutcheon, James, 2010."Historical Analysis and Contemporary Assessment of Foster Care in Texas: Perceptions of Social Workers in a Private, Non-Profit Foster Care Agency". Applied Research Projects. Texas State University Paper 332. TXstate.edu
  • Handbook: Child protection UNICEF, IPU, 2004

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