Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

And The Beat Goes On

with 21 comments

I was looking over the comments yesterday while I was reading and responding to a FB thread about whether curricular standards for publics schools ought to be imposed by the federal government on a “fact based” standard.

I was, obviously, opposed to the centralized “fact based” standard, not for the least reason that a lot of what people call facts are actually opinions.

That fact was demonstrated beautifully when a poster on the other side–they were all on the other side–posted a link to a NYRB article on Texas textbook adoption and how it affects the rest of us–and most of its examples were of places where Texas insists on interpretations (the New Deal was a bad idea) that cannot be countered with “facts.”  Whether the ND is a bad idea or a good one is a matter of opinion, not fact, and will never be anything else.

But in the middle of that, as I said, I was reading the comments here, and I found them very interesting.

First, Robert is quite right.  What I was talking about has nothing to do with Cheryl’s example.  In fact, I don’t think schools should be allowed to control their students’ lives outside school hours (except for the necessary  homework).  If a teacher came up and tried to correct my child at the store or in the public park and I was there to witness it, I’d rip her a new one. 

In that case, she is not “taking responsibility.”  She is simply being an officious busybody. 

I was talking about how people respond in emergencies–traffic accidents, school shootings, people in danger of dying without a rescue.

Most of us do not have the expertise to help in a serious traffic accident, but the vast majority of us can call 911.  In other cases, we do have what’s needed to help, and I think we should all feel that the default position is that we are personally responsible for doing it.

So I would say that texaspurl’s accident example fits what I was talking about.

Her other example, however, does not. 

If I saw one person physically beating up another person–child or not–I would certainly call the police.

If all I saw was one person yelling at another–child or not–then my proper response would be to accept that it was none of my business, and that interfering in any way would make me…one of those officious, self righteous busybodies.

But in NO case would I ever call CPS.

CPS is a Constitution-free zone.  They can enter your house without a warrant, even if the only “evidence” they have is an anonymous accusation.  You have no right to confront your accusers.  You’re not even allowed to know their names.  You have no right to refuse to incriminate yourself.  In fact, there’s a case in the courts right now where a state CPS is claiming that if it has to allow the people it accuses their Constitutional rights, then it can’t function at all.

I think that a government agency that cannot operate unless it violates the Constitutional rights of citizens should not be allowed to operate at all.

What’s more, however, is that CPS is also a rule-0f-law free zone.  “Abuse” is defined as whatever the social worker subjectively thinks it is. 

Yes, I know.  Yada yada yada.  They’ve been “trained.”  But all they’ve been trained in is a lot of pseudoscientific conventional wisdom that often has nothing at all to do with reality.  Witness the number of cases “proving” child abuse by the fact–and it was a fact–that the supposed victims, given anatomically correct dolls, pulled and prodded at the genitals.

This, according to the best social work practice of the day, “proved” abuse because children who had not been abused did not behave this way.  Given the dolls, they just left the genitals alone.

Then–oops!  It turned out that nobody had ever looked into how children who had not been abused (or were not supposed to have been abused) acted with those dolls. 

When they did, it turned out that ALL children behaved exactly the same way when presented with those dolls.

By then, of course, hundreds of families had been destroyed,  hundreds of children had been forced into the truly vile foster care system and probably screwed up for life, and it was too late to undo the damage.

But, hey–SOME of those children probably had been abused.  Who cares what happened to the rest of them?

I agree that children need protection, but mostly I think they and their families need protection from CPS. 

You want to see a war against the poor?  Take a look at CPS, where what are being enforced are middle class cultural biases.

You want to see truly egregious pseudoscience?  Take a look at the ‘red flags’ that supposedly tell us when a child may be being abused.

What’s wrong with them?

Well, as in the case of those anatomically correct dolls, nobody is checking to see if those “red flags” aren’t being  found equally often in children who are not being abused.

Nationwide, CPS departments admit that a minimum of 60% of the accusations they receive are eventually classified as “unfounded”–and that, as you would expect from a system that allows anonymous accusations, a good chunk of those turn out to be spite calls.

Having a problem with your neighbor?  What to get your cheating spouse in trouble?    Jealous because your coworker got that promotion and you didn’t?

Pick up the phone and make any accusations you want.  There’s virtually no downside.  The accused won’t be allowed to know your name.  You can’t be sued for making the accusation, and CPS can’t be sued for pursuing it, even if it’s totally bogus.

Some states have laws on the books that allow prosecution for false accusations of child abuse, but they turn out to be targetted at divorcing spouses.  Anonymous spiteful tipsters are free and clear.

And they can get a lot of traction, too.  If the social worker that shows up at  your house wants to, she can remove  your children from your home for no reason at all. 

And once that happens, you’ll be embroiled in a mess the like of which you wouldn’t believe.

Even if you’re totally innocent of any wrongdoing, your child could end up in foster care for months before the courts straighten it out.  You will have  none of the due process protections–not even the assumption of innocence–that you would have in any other court proceeding, and the standard of proof will be much lower than in the criminal courts.

What’s more, the chances are good that the foster care system will be LESS safe for your child–for most children–than they would be at home.

In a case that was decided some time back by the SCOTUS–Sandra Day O’Connor wrote the opinion–a father who was falsely accused by a disgruntled neighbor of the sexual abuse of his son tried to get the right to sue the state (PA, I think) after the  kid was found to have been given AIDS by the foster father who raped him.

SCOTUS said no–it was too important to protect “the children.”

So a father who was entirely innocent, and a child that had exhibited NO physical signs of sexual abuse, had their lives completely destroyed because the social worker was “protecting” “the children.”

CPS ought to be abolished, period.  I don’t think they’ve protected even a single child.  They’ve turned our schools into vast complexes of state-mandated informers who are afraid not to report anything at all because they’ll lose their livelihoods if they don’t.  They’ve made the worst nightmare of parents whose children survive accidents or kidnapping the descent of social workers whose response to such things is to assume the parents MUST be guilty of something and to therefore further traumatize the child.

If there is EVIDENCE of physical assault, call in the police and file proper criminal charges with proper due process protections for the accused.

If there isn’t, no court, no social worker, no teacher and not anybody else has the right to assume the pose of self righteous crusader and destroy the lives of parents and children on a lot of subjective nonsense.

Written by janeh

January 10th, 2013 at 10:18 am

Posted in Uncategorized

21 Responses to 'And The Beat Goes On'

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  1. Dang ! I guess I don’t think about sexual abuse when witnessing children being verbally/physically abused.All I can think of is that the child has no protection from their parents and without some type of intervention , the child will probably grow up as an abusive parent which perpetuates a vicious cycle.

    You are very correct about the CPS Nazi stronghold on defenseless families who are unjustly charged.

    But my heart still breaks when seeing an out of control adult publicly verbally/physically abusing a 4 or 5 year old defencelss child with its head hanging down in shame.

    What are the answers to change the CPS system ?? What can be dome to rotect children ?


    10 Jan 13 at 10:58 am

  2. PS I hope I don’t come across as self righteous busy body because I’m not ..


    10 Jan 13 at 11:01 am

  3. “I think that a government agency that cannot operate unless it violates the Constitutional rights of citizens should not be allowed to operate at all.”

    Truer words was never spoke! And that’s precisely the problem, not just with CPS–though they’re the worst offenders–but with a lot of “regulatory agencies.” They want the authority of police, but without the necessary restrictions we place on police–that the law be specific, that the accused have a jury trial with presumption of innocence, see the evidence and confront the accuser. Making CPS play by those rules would vastly change CPS and accordingly protect the children. Then we could do the same thing to the EPA and the EEOC among others.

    That said…

    Even real law enforcement has problems with conspiracies, and in saying everyone should play by the constituional rules I don’t want to deny the problems real law enforcement agencies and courts have deealing with terrorists, armed uprisings and organized crime.

    It’s also true that John Paul Jones was right: a free, democratic state is an ideal, while free democratic armed forces are useless. Different rules must apply to people who may be killed in the pursuit of their normal duties.

    But neither of those exceptions applies to CPS.


    10 Jan 13 at 12:32 pm

  4. I found this website : http://nccpr.info/

    There are several sites/groups regarding child protective reforms.


    10 Jan 13 at 2:57 pm

  5. I hope Jane won’t object to me posting a link involving the other end of the age spectrum. The comments are interesting!


    It strikes a bell with me because I am elderly and living alone. :)


    10 Jan 13 at 9:46 pm

  6. JD , what an insightful article. And just imagine what life will be like for the millions of aging Baby Boomers…I shudder to think of it.
    Do you have close neighbors or friends or relatives that can check on you ? Do you have a friend with whom you could pool resources and live together ? ( Find a roomie that loves to rumba and is lively ! ) I think there are many options available for the elderly ( which I am one of also )without having to leave the sanctity of thier home.


    11 Jan 13 at 10:08 am

  7. Texaspurl, I use a VitalCall system. If I push the alarm button, it phones a help center which then calls my next door neighbor and, if necessary, calls an ambulance. I’ve had to use it a couple of times for acute illness and it works!

    So far, I can get off the floor but I can see the time coming when that will be impossible. Not something I’m looking forward to.


    11 Jan 13 at 2:08 pm

  8. JD, perhaps a walker of some type would be useful for maintaining your balance to prevent falling ? Discuss your concern with your doctor and I’m sure he can advise you.

    Gee.. didn’t intend to high-jack Jane’s blog :) But this is something we all will face eventually.

    Glad to know that you have VitaCall and caring neighbors.


    11 Jan 13 at 3:18 pm

  9. Clarification. I don’t fall down but there are occasions when housekeeping requires me to get down on my hands and knees.


    12 Jan 13 at 1:21 pm

  10. I have total sympathy with verbal, physical, or psychologically abused kids. I spent 40 years working with them. But, for the first time in my life, I’m empathizing with them. I live in fear. I am a conservative Christian . . . and I have learned in the past six months or so that I had better keep my mouth shut if I don’t want to be raged at as an insensitive idiot. My right to free speech is slowly being taken away; my religious freedom is being attacked. I’m not a kid, and there is nobody who can help. I’m nearly 70, and I’m scared. It’s not just CPS who’s acting outside the Constitution.


    12 Jan 13 at 1:33 pm

  11. We are really hijacking Jane’s blog.

    Sara, I live in Australia and don’t have the problems you do. But when the NY Times publishes an op-ed by a professor of Constitutional law saying “lets scrap the Constitution and another op-ed suggesting that the debt problem can be solved by minting a platinum coin labeled “One Trillion Dollars” then I get scared!


    12 Jan 13 at 8:56 pm

  12. jd, that ship sailed 80 years ago. The NY Times is the voice of the progressive elite, and the last time the progressive elite thought they needed to amend the Constitution to get what they wanted was Prohibition. Since 1933, they just announce that the Constitution has “grown” or “evolved” to empower them to do whatever they want. And if they take a dislike to something which has been going on since Washington’s day–well, it turns out that the living Constitution NOW makes that unconstitutional.

    The trillion-dollar coin will make an interesting symbol in some later history book, but we’ve already gotten pretty good at printing money to cover the debt. When I started buying comic books, they were ten cents. Then I saw them marked “STILL ten cents” which I thought was a bad sign. In the local game shop, I see they’re marked “holding the line at $2.99!” So a dollar saved under Eisenhower is three cents under Obama. (In fairness, some people claim it might be worth as much as eight cents, though ten is certainly too high.) A million million dollar coins would at least provide something interesting for the numismatists out of the wreckage.

    You are, of course, right to be scared.


    13 Jan 13 at 10:45 am

  13. While we’re in the business of hijacking Jane’s blog, and kinda sorta apropos the mood, if not the strict theme of recent columns, here’s an article that grabbed my attention and puts in a more realistic perspective the current situation in our western world. As someone who has spent years living in the sort of places discussed, I can relate.

    Note: This is not a sneaky way of bringing global warming to the debate. It just happens that the article was posted to a climate blog.



    13 Jan 13 at 7:06 pm

  14. I’m going to give The Speech.
    Individuals are poor for many reasons, which boil down to bad choices and bad luck. Nations are poor because they are ungoverned or because they are unfree. Where people can buy and sell freely and undertake professions they choose for themselves, and where the fruits of their savings are not taken by bandits, then as nations they are not poor. If you don’t believe me, take a look at South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore–or, these days, central and eastern Europe and China.
    But consistently, our rulers prefer systems under which they are wealthy to ones under which their countries are. There’s a reason for that. Jefferson didn’t make enough to maintain Monticello. Truman had to take out a bank loan to go back to Missouri. Compare them with our more recent presidents–or with any President of Mexico. There are gleaming offices and palatial presidential libraries in overgoverning or misgoverning a people.
    We know the solution to national-lewvel poverty. We don’t know how to get our rulers to implement it.


    14 Jan 13 at 6:38 am

  15. “Individuals are poor for many reasons, which boil down to bad choices and bad luck. ”

    Or a system (in the sense of a “natural” system in which there is no central control or guiding plan) which sets them up for consistent failure until,like the rats in the shock cage, they simply give up.

    And Roberts analysis by analogy fails to convince for the simple reason that the United States is still the wealthiest nation on the planet by far — yet has more socioeconomic stagnation, less mobility, less ability for anyone to “make it” than almost any other “Western” nation, and more than a few of the ‘third world’.

    And there are plenty of people who can freely choose their professions and whose money is not “taken by bandits”. They’re called the 1% (eh, maybe actually the top 10% or so), and American corporations. Said corporation which often, those “confiscatory” taxes notwithstanding, pay no taxes (income taxes at least) at all.

  16. Yes, Michael. Is ANYONE under the impression that we have a 73,000 page tax code in order to make the wealthy and influential pay? An Estonian 16-page flat rate system would hit them a lot harder. Notice the lack of “progressive” enthusiasm for any such thing. No favors to sell.
    There is a serious difference between growing wealthy by selling people things they want and need and growing wealthy by having the government deep-six your competitors which continues to elude you.
    Nor are we “the wealthiest nation by far” though we still rate well. And every American I know who has STAYED poor either had horrendous bad luck or had to really work at it.
    (Hint: finishing high school, marrying before you have kids and showing up for work every day won’t make you rich, but you’ll eventually wind up with a house of your own and money in the bank if you’re careful. Doing the opposite will not, every time.)
    By bandits, though, I meant real bandits. There’s a reason Somalia and rural Afghanistan don’t do much capital accumulation, and it’s much the same reason the north of England used to have only Pele towers and buildings which could be put up overnight: if you did anything in between, the border reivers would just take it anyway.
    If you want to improve inter-generational mobility in the US, I have some suggestions. You wouldn’t like them.
    But take a good look at the tables on ease or difficulty of starting a business, and on per capita income. Any country in the top quartile for ease of start-up is in the top quartile for personal income. Any country in which selling from your own pushcart takes months of paying off “civil servants”–the bottom quartile for ease of start-ups–is in the bottom quartile for income, and usually ranks high on corruption as well.
    There’s lots of detailed and debatable stuff, but we’re flunking the easy and obvious–because a wealthier, more free citizenry would involve poorer rulers.


    14 Jan 13 at 10:12 am

  17. I watched a 60 Minutes segment about the impact of robotics on workers and the economy last night and was was rather scared : http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9221334/Robots_are_taking_mid_level_jobs_changing_the_economy

    Where will displaced workers find employment ?

    Sorry Jane :)


    14 Jan 13 at 10:27 am

  18. Texas, its worse than you think. I’m getting reports of power shovels and bulldozers being used on major construction projects replacing men with shovels, and of tunnel-boring machines being used instead of men with pickaxes. From Yorkshire, there are rumors of mechanical looms, some of them water-powered, wiping out hand looms in the textile industry. Word is, any day now the unions will allow diesel trains to run without stokers on board.

    Word is, though, the Emperor Diocletian is going to bring us economic stability: a universal wage-price freeze, and hereditary professions.

    When you get a chance, read “Business as Usual, During Alterations.” I think you can find it in PROLOGUE TO ANALOG.


    14 Jan 13 at 11:31 am

  19. That was mean. I’m sorry. But not needing people to sit eight hours a day doing a job that requires no thought is a GOOD problem–one we’ve been solving for centuries without an upturn in unemployment.

    Our problems–and Michael’s right: we do have problems–don’t come from being smart about inventing labor-saving machines but by being stupid about other things. Think how many of your children or grandchildren are working at jobs that didn’t exist when you were in high school. And think how much you’d like a world in which we were still beating carpets and cleaning our clothes with scrubbing boards–with lots of openings for domestic help.

    We just need to take the next generation of bolt-turners off the assembly line and make plumbers, electricians, personal trainers and artists out of them. There are still plenty of things we need or would like to have done. There always will be.


    14 Jan 13 at 11:44 am

  20. Robert, I did notice your sarcasm and had a good laugh !

    But what worries me is the increase in world population … maybe someone will figure out how to educate the great unwashed masses to be productive as you mentioned with low tech jobs … more artists and muscians would be a boon to society :)

    The robots on the tv segment cost $60,000 and lasted three years before they became obsolete . Hourly cost to operate the robots was about $3.65 per hour and of course the robots were offered no health benefits or retirement. Each robot replaced 1 1/2 humans on the work force and the company’s profits were greatly increased.


    14 Jan 13 at 12:13 pm

  21. Well, one of the nice things about education is that it’s not capital-intensive. We are seeing poorer countries and regions effectively exporting skilled labor. Even within the US, Pittsburgh did a first-rate job or training young people for high-tech jobs as the steel mill jobs went away. Modern steel mills use much less labor per ton, but would we prefer an era in which people shoveled coal into furnaces all day? We know how to “educate the masses”–or to train them, come to that. We just aren’t doing it very well. (Indoctrination is SO much more fun for teachers and administrators.) It’s one of the things I was thinking of when I said we were flunking the easy and obvious.
    But rises in productivity tend to take even unskilled labot up with them. Watch–one of my hobbies–painted toy soldiers. When I was born, Britains was paying women in London. Then the trade moved to Spain and South Africa. Now it’s China for factory work and Sri Lanka for custom. Because unskilled labor in Britain is much more expensive than it was in 1952. Always be unskilled in a modern high-tech society is my advise. It pays a lot better than being an Elizabethan “sturdy beggar.”

    Companies are SUPPOSED to maximise profits–to find cheaper ways to do things, or to get a $5 product instead of a $4 product out of $3 of cost. If they’re really good, they’ll expand, and hire more people. They’ll also pay dividends which will fund retirements. I wish some of them were better at it.

    We need government to make sure they do it honestly–that they don’t dilute the milk, that the board doesn’t steal from the pension fund, and that the product is safe as advertised.
    The danger is that the company will find government a useful tool to keep competitors out of the market, to keep the work force in line or to require people to buy the corporate product.

    But making the corporation play by the rules without letting the corporation set the rules is tricky. All I can say is that it works best when the rules are few, simple and transparent. We haven’t done a lot of that lately–hence, I think, some of Michael’s complaints about limited social mobility. He’s right that we have a problem: I just don’t think a larger more powerful bureaucracy is going to fix it.

    But don’t stand in the way of the robots unless you really like scrubbing boards


    14 Jan 13 at 1:15 pm

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