Note, this article is not about blaming people doing the work – it’s about legislators that are unaware of the dire straits millions of abused and neglected children are facing and lawmakers slow and inadequate reaction to the conditions existing in our most important institutions today.
Many states are failing their most vulnerable citizens in the most tortured and traumatizing ways. National Disgrace (Star Tribune) & Colossal Failure are the words being used across America describing child protection in too many states. Four and five year old children are dying by homicide and suicide.
Two days ago, a lawsuit was filed against the AZ Department of Child Safety alleging “severe shortage of mental and physical health services”, “failure to conduct timely investigations of child abuse reports”, and a widespread failure of the State to help troubled children maintain family relationships.
If lawmakers do not make policies and allocate funding that will keep children safe, this nation resorts to lawsuits that pay damages and fines for such failures. Sometimes, the court includes very expensive punitive awards to make it explicit that the state needs to function better (lawmakers wake up). It’s an expensive way of creating policy and children have to suffer greatly before this happens.
From my perspective as a longtime volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem, it is far less costly, and way more ethical and productive for legislators to fund programs and address problems than it is to obfuscate, ignore, and watch the slow torture of abused and neglected children evolve into class action lawsuits and the next generation of abused and neglected children becoming parents of another generation of abused and neglected children.
We are costing this nation its quality of life by trading at risk children and young families for failed schools, unsafe streets, a giant prison system, and monstrous pharmaceutical industry (and million of children reported to child protection each year).
Every five years a new generation of abused and neglected children enter our schools and communities.
It is because the circumstances are so unrecognized, unspoken of, and under addressed that class action lawsuits will get traction and proliferate. Compare this to the nightmare happening within the Catholic Church because of years of under-reporting and under addressing terrible problems of abuse. Bankrupting the Catholic Church.
Think what you will about the legal system busting open the church and state budgets, something must be done about the six million children reported to child protection each year and the millions of troubled youth in our juvenile and criminal justice system.
Our institutions are creating what they were designed to stop and the suffering and costs are immense. All of us owe our legislators a phone call or letter (send your state rep this letter – or copy it in your own hand) to express support for early childhood programs, crisis nurseries, subsidized daycare, and proper training and resources for child protection workers.
Addendum; A few years ago, I spoke to the adoptive parents of special needs children in Indiana, where Governor Mitch Daniels redirected the funding promised to families that adopted special needs children and then redirected/eliminated those funds after the adoptions were completed. I always wondered why there were no lawsuits arising out of that horrid greedy move (by the vice presidential anti tax candidate/governor).