Some recent media articles and resources relating to child abuse and neglect. If you have items that you think would be helpful to include in this occasional post, please forward them to me at the email in my signature block.
These stories were chosen because of their perceived relevance to the child welfare community. MiPSAC is not responsible for the views expressed in any of these articles, nor does it take a position for or against the positions expressed in the articles. They are presented merely to provide a sampling of what the media is saying about child welfare.
Charlie Enright, JD, MSW
4907 Foster Rd.
Midland, MI 48642
Michigan Professional Society on Abuse of Children, MiPSAC
This and previous posts can be found at: http://www.mipsac.org/category/can-articles
RECENT MEDIA ARTICLES
Experts Say: Train Teachers to Spot Sexual Abusers
Feb 27, AP/San Francisco Chronicle: Many school teachers across the nation are trained to pick up on clues of child abuse and neglect, but most are not trained to spot the signs of classroom pedophiles, leaving a gray area that could help teacher molesters operate undetected on campuses. Experts say better training of school teachers and administrators in red-flag behavior could aid in catching molesters, pointing to the case of a former Los Angeles third-grade teacher who is charged with feeding some two dozen students semen-laced cookies, and blindfolding and gagging them over a five-year period. Link to Article
Federal Rule Could Cost Child Support Debtors Only Income
Feb 27, AP/Pantagraph.com: Old child support debts could cost thousands of poor men their only income next year because of a policy aimed at reducing the cost to the government of mailing paper checks to pay federal benefits. The Treasury Department will start paying benefits electronically next March. It will stop issuing the paper checks that many people rely on to safeguard a portion of their benefits from states trying to collect back child support. States can freeze the bank accounts of people who owe child support. Once paper checks are eliminated, about 275,000 people could lose access to all of their income, advocates say. The rule change illustrates how a politically desirable goal like cracking down on so-called deadbeat dads can have complicated, even counterproductive, effects in practice. Link to Article
Discussion of Kalamazoo Head Start Taps Into National Debate Over Program’s Mission
Feb 27, mlive.com: A discussion among Kalamazoo County officials about the future of the local Head Start program is tapping into a years-long national debate about the “real” mission of the 47-year-old federal program, which serves 3- and 4-year-olds in households below the poverty line. The immediate issue on the table here is whether the Kalamazoo County program should continue to be administered by county’s Department of Human Services or be taken over by the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency, which provides support services for children and school systems in the Kalamazoo intermediate school district. The discussion raises the question: Is Head Start a social service program with an educational component, or an educational program with a social services component? Link to Article
Comment by C. Enright: Having worked as a social worker in early childhood education classrooms, my understanding became that such programs socialize children to a classroom setting so that K-3rd teachers aren’t working so hard to do that. The child learns what a teacher is for and that they are nice and to pay attention to them, what a book is for and that they contain stuff the child likes. What a classroom is and how to interact/socialize with large groups of other same-age children who are not family. Surveys of kindergarten teachers have shown that they don’t care if the student knows their colors, letters and numbers. What they care about is, will the student pay attention and not disrupt the others in the classroom. If they are socialized they are much more likely to succeed in early grades, like school; and studies show, finish high school, not become involved in criminal activity and not become pregnant as teens. Which bureaucrat manages the program is less relevant as long as the mission to socialize the children continues. It stands to reason that a student who pays attention and expects to learn things in the classroom will do better academically.
Another View: Bay County’s Future Begins With the Children
Feb 26, Bay City Times: Recent Kids Count findings include some rays of hope. When we collectively put our minds to a task, we can make a difference. Same article in Saginaw News
- Every $1 invested in high quality early care and education for low-income children saves up to $16 on welfare, criminal justice, special education and other social expenses.
- Children who succeed in school generate four times more tax revenue as adults than the cost of the programs that helped them succeed.
- Each $1 invested in services to families of infants and toddlers at high risk of abuse or neglect saves $6 that would be spent on the child protection system.
Investing in children, particularly those most challenged by their circumstances, must be a key part of rebuilding and strengthening Michigan’s economy. Link to Article
Child Welfare in Arizona: Questions Over Deaths, System
Feb 25, Azcentral.com: Jacob Gibson, a 6-year-old Phoenix boy spent his first two years in foster care. After he returned to his parents, CPS opened five abuse investigations that involved him, two still open when he died from brain injuries. Police arrested both parents. Jacob’s beating death in August triggered media and public attention. And news articles highlighted a child-welfare system in crisis.
And in May, 4-year-old Annie Carimbocas was pronounced dead of blunt-force trauma at Cardon Children’s Hospital in Mesa. CPS had dismissed an earlier report on the child, hospitalized with bruised eyes and a bashed ear, as an accident.
The public was outraged by the child deaths. Some blamed CPS and police, while others wondered why Ame’s neighbors didn’t call authorities if they suspected abuse or neglect.
Soon after the media put a spotlight on the cases, CPS revealed that nearly 10,000 cases were sitting idle because workers were too overwhelmed to either investigate or finish the paperwork and close the case. The high-profile deaths prompted a debate about how to prevent children from being injured or killed. It’s a recurring argument, following publicity every few years surrounding a spate of child deaths. At its core are competing philosophies about the role of government and the rights of parents and children. On one side is the belief that government’s role should be limited, in terms of the help it provides to struggling families and the power it gives CPS to separate families. The other side argues for more funding for services to help keep families together, as well as additional support for CPS to help children who must be removed for their safety. Link to Article
If Cops Don’t Know What You Encrypted, They Can’t Make You Decrypt It
Feb 24, Forbes: The last 24 hours have produced two opposite rulings about whether suspects in legal cases have to cough up the password to potentially incriminating data that they’ve encrypted on a hard drive. The two cases add up to a lesson: If the cops don’t know what they don’t know, your secrets are safe. But if they know what they’re looking for, the world’s strongest cipher isn’t going to stop them from getting it from a suspect. The 11th circuit court of appeals ruled in the child pornography case of an unnamed man called John Doe that he wasn’t legally required to give up the password to an encrypted hard drive that might contain incriminating information. Link to Article and Opinion
Performance Audit: Youth Transitioning from Foster Care to Self-Sufficiency (DHS)
Feb 2012, Office of Michigan Auditor General: A priority of the DHS is to improve the success of the youth transitioning from the State’s foster care system into adulthood. Audit Conclusion: The DHS’s efforts to evaluate services provided to youth transitioning from foster care to self-sufficiency were not effective. Link to Audit Report
In a Related News Story
$400 Prom Dress, in Shades of Gray
Feb 24, Bridge Magazine: The headlines practically write themselves. “Taxpayers on the hook for $400 prom dress.” “$2,000 cheerleading camp on the state tab.” Scrape away the easy sensationalism, and the story is more complex. In a written response to the audit report, DHS officials said the department was in general agreement with the findings and that steps were being take to correct the problem. But Mary Chaliman, director of the Permanency Department of the DHS Child Welfare Division, cautioned against taking any of those examples out of the context of individual foster care cases. These are kids who’ve been beaten up by life, Chaliman said. She hopes they don’t get beaten up again by those looking to score cheap political points. Link to Article
Comment by C. Enright: Apparently some politicians are not taking this in context and advocate for cutting this “waste fraud and abuse”, as if this was why the budget is out of balance. As Ms. Chaliman says, we need to consider who is getting this money. They did not seek to be put in foster care or to take advantage of the system. The worker who approved the funds was trying to help a kid in a bad spot. They shouldn’t have to worry about political consequences.
All Mental Health Disorders Should Get Insurance Coverage, Not Just Autism
Feb 23, MLive.com: Legislation that would require insurers to cover autism treatments unfairly singles out one condition, says a coalition that wants coverage for all mental health issues. Gov. Rick Snyder, who backs the autism legislation, and lawmakers are being urged today to adopt a state law that would improve insurance coverage for all neuropsychiatric disorders, including mental illness, addiction, autism and developmental disorders. Link to Article
Children Living in High-Poverty Communities Surged 25 Percent Over Last Decade
Feb 23, Annie E, Casey Foundation: Nearly 8 million of America’s children live in high-poverty areas—about 1.6 million more since 2000—according to a new KIDS COUNT® Data Snapshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The latest data show that about 7.9 million, or 11 percent, of the nation’s children are growing up in areas where at least 30 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level. Link to Press Release
Police Use Social Media Sites As ‘Eyewitness’ To Crime
Feb 22, ABC12.com: Cell phones are everywhere these days, and that means cameras and video cameras are also everywhere, because many cell phones have those features. An event that is videotaped can be uploaded to the Internet, and the world can view it in seconds of it happening. Sometimes the events that wind up on a website are crimes, and police are using social media sites as a sort of ‘eyewitness’ to the possible criminal act. Tuesday, a Sanilac County woman was charged with child abuse and domestic violence for the way she fed her child. The criminal case was all made possible by the video posted on YouTube. A family member didn’t like the way she was handling the situation, and posted the video. In Flint, a beating of a Flint 14-year-old was videotaped, and then posted on Facebook. Police become aware of the video and three people now face criminal charges for the attack. Link to Article
Failure to Force CA Public School into Charter Could Have MI Implications
Feb 22, Detroit Free Press: A second attempt by California parents to force a failing school to convert into a charter has failed, and that may be bad news for an effort to give Michigan parents a similar kind of power. A bill in the Michigan Legislature would give parents the power to force their children’s failing schools to be converted into a charter. Link to Article
WQNI Launches Child-Protection and Parental-Notification Mobile Phone App
Feb 21, MarketWatch: WQN Inc. a leading online security software provider of mobile phone applications protecting children from cyber-bullies, sexual predators, and texting-related car crashes, announced the launch of its RatedSafe(TM) child-protection and parental-notification mobile phone application. Link to Article
RESOURCES WITH TIME LIMITED VALUE
Youth Can Attend Career Exploration Day March 24
Feb 23, Ypsilanti Courier: Over 250 youth from Wayne, Washtenaw and Oakland counties are expected to attend the 2012 Career Exploration Day on March 24, 2012. This event is sponsored by the Ypsilanti Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and will be held from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Western Campus of Wayne County Community College. Link to Information