Monday, May 27, 2013

The Debunking: Child Welfare

Every nation in the Western world has one or more "child welfare" departments, and a "family court" system to give them teeth. Here in the United States, there's a minimum of one "child welfare" department per state, and the "family courts" are organized on the county level, resulting in thousands of the things.

CW functionaries can invade your home without a warrant.
They can seize your children without warning, on any pretext.
The police enforce their will without questioning it.
The "family courts" almost never rule against the decisions of a "child welfare" agency.
The combination wields power unlimited by any Constitution or statute law.
Their decisions, except in the case of criminal incarcerations, cannot be appealed.
And they have you, your home, and your children in their sights.

Do you think that system has any child's welfare in mind?

Who could be against "child welfare?" If there's a less assailable concept, in the abstract, I can't think of it at the moment. It would be like condemning "love of country." Yet perhaps the most fiercely fought battle of the day is the one that surrounds the "child welfare" scheme at work in these United States.

I shan't trouble to enumerate the many abuses the "child welfare / family court" scheme has perpetrated. You'd have to be a cave-dwelling hermit not to have read about the truly lurid ones. The lesser sorts -- that is, the ones that merely break up a family solely because of some busybody's suspicion or unsupported accusation -- are so numerous that they escape all attempts at cataloguing them. A fine overview of the matter can be found in Dr. Stephen Baskerville's excellent book Taken Into Custody.

What most Americans don't know, despite the publicity the worst of the abuses have received, is that the destruction of the privacy of the family is not an unintended consequence, but the actual aim of the system.

Family privacy and autonomy have long been among the stoutest barriers to the encroachments of the Omnipotent State. For those who "know better" to have complete control of all persons and all things, those barriers must fall. The "child welfare / family court" scheme is the greatest of their weapons in their quest for unlimited power.

It's possible to debate the extent to which parents have, or should have, rights over their minor children. In the abstract, the subject is susceptible to many approaches. Children are human beings, not property for a parent to do with completely as he wills. However, the notion that parents should have no rights over their minor children -- their upbringing, their education, the overall conditions that prevail within their home, and so on -- is wholly unacceptable, except among the hardest hard-left totalitarians who insist that the State must "form" the bodies and minds of children from their earliest days, to ensure their development into the "right" sort of subjects.

Yet the operating premise of the "child welfare / family court" system is precisely that of the totalitarian Left. There is no aspect of parent-child relations that the CW functionary cannot invoke as a pretext for invading a family and removing the children. Even an offhand statement by one of the parents is sufficient grounds...and the "family courts" back the CW system to the hilt in over 99% of cases. After all, it's "for the children," so who could possibly be opposed?

It doesn't take much to trigger the attentions of the CW system. Children have been removed from their parents' custody for:

  • Being poorly dressed;
  • Looking under-weight;
  • Claiming hunger or thirst;
  • Coming to school with a bruise;
  • A political statement made by a parent;
  • Living in a home where firearms are kept;
  • Enforced medical treatment, against the parents' desires;
  • Being educated against the contrary opinions of a neighbor;

...and for other reasons. Afterward, the CW system can act with amazing speed to place such children in foster homes. The fosterer receives State payments; the CW functionary carves a notch in her gun butt; and the system can agitate for more money, more dedicated personnel -- including armed enforcers -- and more power.

The only victims are the children, their parents, and the American conception of freedom.

The usual objections to my thesis that the "child welfare / family court" system is organized and operated for its own enlargement and aggrandizement are:

  1. Child abuse and child neglect demand that such a system be in place.
  2. The system's abuses are commonly exaggerated by its critics.
  3. Abuses of power will occur in every system designed to exercise authority; that's not a sufficient argument to delegitimize such a system.

My replies:

  • Statute law and the criminal justice system are sufficient to deal with genuine child abuse and neglect.
  • No, they're not; systemic abuse is the rule and not the exception, as plenty of surveys have demonstrated.
  • A system with authority must be subject to a scheme of oversight -- the traditional American concept of checks and balances -- and not be possessed of unlimited power or unreviewable authority.

I claim victory. But who's right doesn't matter in practical terms, for the system is the most prized of all the political possessions of the State. It affords a pretext for visiting unacceptable consequences on anyone with minor children who might be disposed to oppose its decrees.

Viewed thus, we can group the "child welfare / family court" system with two others of immense political value: the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security, both of which possess essentially unbounded power. A ruthless ruling regime can use any or all of the three to squelch emergent critics and opponents. When the press is on the regime's side, as it is currently, the potential consequences are terrifying.

This will be the final segment in the "Debunkings" series. As I've already said, the idea is to train you, Gentle Reader, in the tactic of debunking political pieties:

  1. Refuse to be cowed by the piety invoked;
  2. Unpack the connotations and implications of the concept;
  3. Compare them to the effects of the policies and procedures as practiced and demand redress.

There are political shibboleths other than the ones I've covered. If I had infinite time and energy, and no other demands on me, I'd debunk each of them -- few subjects are as important as the "rectification of names" (Confucius) in our public discourse -- but that's hardly the case. I have a day job, a home and family to tend to, four more novels (at least) to write, and so on.

From these failing hands I throw the torch to you. Be yours to hold it high.

1 comment:

pdwalker said...

In Flanders Fields... Nice touch.

I normally reread it every Armistice day, but today I'll make an exception.