May 1-8: CA&N Media Articles and Resources
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
Child Protection Advocates Decry Sandler’s New Film
May 7, New Hampshire Eagle Tribune: New Hampshire’s Adam Sandler is known for making movie audiences laugh. But when his latest film, “That’s My Boy,” opens next month, not everybody will be laughing. Some people are outraged and calling for the film to be pulled from theaters. They say the movie glamorizes sexual relationships between children and their teachers. Trailers for the film depict a 13-year-old boy who impregnates his teacher. That boy then grows up to become the character played by Sandler, who raised the baby after the teacher was imprisoned. The idea of Hollywood releasing such a film has angered people across the country, especially child rights advocates and survivors of child sexual abuse. Link to Article
Comment by C. Enright: Hits near home. A former female teacher from Freeland High School (Michigan) pleaded guilty to 21 criminal sexual conduct charges for having sex over one hundred times with a student.
US: Foster Care Population Continues to Decline
May 7, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:There are more than 400,000 children in foster care across the United States, according to the most recent report released by AFCARS (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System). This is a sobering number. The encouraging news is that this number continues to decline – down more than 8 percent from 2008, and nearly 30 percent from 1999, when there were nearly 570,000 foster children. Link to Article
UN: Ten Years After The Historic UN Special Session On Children, UNICEF Marks Progress In Creating ‘A World Fit For Children’
May 7, UNICEF: This week, UNICEF commemorates the 10-year anniversary of the adoption of ‘A World Fit for Children’, a United Nations document committing the world’s nations to advancing the rights, welfare and dignity of children everywhere. Link to UNICEF Report
Never-Married Parents Get Help from Special Court
May 7, NPR: Across the U.S., 40 percent of children are now born to unmarried parents. This demographic shift, primarily among younger, low-income parents, can pose a challenge to a child support system designed chiefly to extract money from paychecks. A court in Minneapolis is now trying a new approach, one that’s about more than just the money as it attempts to keep both parents involved in the lives of their kids. Link to Article
US: Open Adoption is Good for the Child, Says Independent Adoption Center
May 6, PRWeb: IAC Associate Executive Director Kathleen Silber says it helps for adoptive parents to view the birthparents as relatives. She says the truth is that they are relatives because they are related to the child. Accepting them as relatives, she says, often makes it easier for many adoptive parents to feel comfortable maintaining an ongoing relationship. Link to Article
US: National Program Teaches Child Sex Abuse Prevention
May 6, Tulsa World (Oklahoma): Child sexual abuse is woefully under-reported and harder to detect, says a Tulsa woman who created an abuse prevention program. Link to Article
NV: Court Ruling Reinstates Child Welfare Lawsuit for Damages
May 4, Las Vegas Sun: A ruling Friday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could mean state officials no longer will be immune from damages resulting from lawsuits involving children in foster care. The trial court had ruled “qualified immunity” protected the state from lawsuits that sought either monetary or injunctive relief. The suit was filed alleging public officials failed to give foster children adequate health services, including medical, dental and mental health care. The lead plaintiff, “Henry A.,” was a foster child who was given a dangerous cocktail of medications that almost killed him. The Appeals Court summarized the case like this: “Henry A. was forced to change treatment providers more than ten times but his medical records were not transferred properly. As a result, Henry was given a dangerous combination of psychotropic medications and was hospitalized in an intensive care unit for two weeks, on the brink of organ failure. Upon release, Henry was administered the same medications again and returned to the ICU.” Link to Las Vegas Sun Article Link to pdf of Court Decision Comment by C. Enright: Seen this? I have. Not to the ICU, but kids who had bad reactions to improperly prescribed psychotropic meds.
Former Foster Child, Single Mother Graduates from MSU
May 4, LSJ.com: Natalie Kyles knows a thing or two about hard work. The Kalamazoo native’s path to that green cap and gown she wears has been riddled with bumps and ruts, and it’s taken her a bit longer than expected, but she made it. She’ll walk off of Michigan State University’s campus this weekend as a graduate with her bachelor’s degree in social work. Natalie and her twin sister, Nicole, both 24, were born into foster care. Their mother was in foster care at the time of their birth, and they grew up with their godparents until they were 8. They were placed in foster care, adopted, then placed back into foster care at 16 when their adopted mother died. They lived in two more homes until Nov. 30, 2005, their 18th birthday, when Nicole came home to find all their belongings thrown down the stairs. They were on their own. “Natalie is a great example of a student who statistically is not set to be successful because the dropout rates are so high (for foster students),” said Lori Strom, Family Resource Center coordinator, which organizes Student Parents on a Mission, a group Natalie has been a part of through her time at MSU. Link to Article
Michigan Legislation to Help Protect Kids from Sexual Abuse
‘Erin’s Law’ to educate children on the right to say ‘no’
May 3, Various: State Senators John Proos – (primary), Rebekah Warren, Darwin Booher, Hoon-Yung Hopgood , Goeffrey Hansen, Jack Brandenburg, Rick Jones, Mike Nofs, Judith Emmons, Gretchen Whitmer, Vincent Gregory, Glenn Anderson, Coleman Young and James Marleau are sponsoring Michigan Senate Bills 1112-1114 which would require Michigan school boards to put in place policies addressing child sexual abuse. The bills would also create a one-time Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children, made up of legislators, state officials and experts to make recommendations on changes to Michigan laws. The measures are named “Erin’s Law” after Erin Merryn, a sexual abuse survivor from Illinois, whose advocacy in her home state led to the passage of a similar law there in 2011. After going public about abuse by a family member, Merryn made it her mission to try to ensure that children have the age-appropriate education to recognize and talk about sexual abuse. Schools would adopt age-appropriate curriculums for students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, train school personnel on child sexual abuse, and adopt policies concerning informing parents on the warning signs of abuse. Parents would be made aware of the curriculum and be able to “opt out” if they did not want their child involved. If the bills are passed and signed, Michigan would join Illinois, Indiana and Missouri in enacting Erin’s Law to protect children from sexual predators. Similar legislation has also been introduced in New York, Minnesota, New Mexico, Maine, Iowa and Massachusetts. Link to Ionia Sentinel-Standard Article; Link to Herald-Palladium Article Links to MI Legislature Web Site: SB 1112 , SB 1113 , SB 1114
Michigan DHS Argues in Court Appeal That Parents Stopping Chemotherapy for Michigan 10-Year-Old Cancer Patient Is a ‘Death Sentence,’
May 2, The Grand Rapids Press: The state says in a brief appealing the medical neglect case against the boy’s parents that if 10-year-old Jacob Stieler does not continue chemotherapy treatments, “he will most certainly die,”. The document filed with the state Court of Appeals spells out in stark terms why the doctors at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital want Jacob’s parents to resume his treatments for Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. “He has a(n) approximate 70 percent chance of survival if he receives the treatment, but without , it is almost universally fatal,” according to the brief filed by Dianne Heitman, a Marquette attorney who is a special prosecutor for the case. Jacob’s mother, Erin, however, said Jacob is doing “very well” and has had three PET scans that showed no sign of cancer. “They said it was going to come back right away, and it hasn’t,” she said. “They are just playing God.” And the parents’ lawyer, Washington attorney Michael Farris, said the parents have the right to reject the doctors’ recommendation because they believe the treatment recommended is not proven to be safe and effective. Link to Article
US: Report: Too Much Secrecy With Respect to Child Abuse Deaths
May 2, UT San Diego: A new report by two children’s advocacy groups says California’s progress toward publicly disclosing information about child abuse deaths and near-deaths has declined significantly over the past four years. The report, released Tuesday, looked at laws in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia and determined that many are overly restrictive, preventing the public from gaining insight that could lead to prevention. The Children’s Advocacy Institute, based at the University of San Diego School of Law, and First Star, a national organization focusing on abused and neglected children, spent two years analyzing the laws and policies and issuing grades from A+ to F. ; Link to UT San Diego Article; Link to CAI Child Death Report Comment by C. Enright: Michigan is ranked about average (B-) on the CAI scale.
Ex-DPS Teacher Faces Sex Lawsuit
Two Former Students Say District Aware of Alleged Abuse
May 2, The Detroit News: Two former Detroit Public Schools students allege their special education teacher sexually assaulted them in Henry Ford High School and allege the district was aware of improper conduct by the teacher, according to a federal suit filed this week. The students filed the case Monday in U.S. District Court in Detroit against the School District, former DPS special education teacher Larry Riccardo Moore and four school administrators. Both women, now 18, were special education students. Link to Article
DPS to Pay $425,000 in Special Ed Death Lawsuit
May 2, The Detroit News: Detroit Public Schools will pay $425,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the family of a deceased special education student. The 9-year-old girl’s mother sued in 2009, alleging her daughter died of seizures a few days after an aide handled her roughly and forced her to walk unassisted. Link to Article
A Custody Battle Between a Mom and Her Cousin Fuel a Family Feud
May 1, WXYZ.com: A mom from Madison Heights was in court to try to keep her cousin from taking her daughter away from her. The mother lost custody of her daughter three years ago when she was abused by the mother’s then-boyfriend and the girl’s father. The daughter, who is now three-years-old, was later placed into the foster care of the mother’s cousin. Since the incident, the mother says she’s done everything necessary to get custody of her child, but a second petition to terminate her rights was filed in November. That month, the state dropped its petition to terminate her right, but the guardian ad litem for the daughter filed a new motion. During final arguments on Tuesday in 3rd Circuit Court, the daughter’s guardian ad litem argued the mother was unfit because she lied under oath and allegedly had a history of being connected to violent men, including the daughter’s father. “This transcends being young, it’s a character flaw,” the GAL told the judge. “No amount of counseling or therapy is going to help that.” The mother’s attorney said the foster parents have fallen in love with the child and they want her for themselves. After listening to arguments, the judge sided with the mother. He terminated the rights of the girl’s father, who is alleged to have assaulted the mother three years ago, but the judge did not take away the mother’s rights. The mother’s attorney said she would file a petition next week to have the daughter removed from cousin’s care and placed in another home. A permanency planning hearing is scheduled for May 25. Link to WXYZ Article
AZ: Woman Succeeding After Years in Ariz. CPS System
May 1, The Republic: Yvette’s story spans 16 years and at least 18 placements, including one failed adoption, one near-adoption, two guardians, several shelters and group homes, and dozens of foster mothers, fathers and siblings. Her story illustrates much of what can go wrong with CPS and a little about what can go right. Arizona’s foster-care system has more children than ever — 12,289 as of February — but fewer families willing to care for them. For the most part, group homes and crisis shelters are picking up the slack. Link to Republic Article Comment by C. Enright: Is there anyone who works directly with kids in ‘the system’ in Michigan that doesn’t know a kid something like this has happened to? They may not all have been this resilient.
Sex Offenders Could Lose Parental Rights Under Law Signed By Gov. Rick Snyder
May 1, MLive.com: Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law on May 1st that allows a family court to terminate parental rights for sex offenders. Senate Bill 1005, sponsored by Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, passed both chambers unanimously. Sex offenders could have lost parental rights if they violated certain portions of the existing juvenile code, but the amended law now explicitly includes a parent’s requirement to register under the Sex Offenders Registration Act as a reason the family court may terminate a parent’s parental rights. The bill brings state law in line with federal guidelines as required by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Reauthorization Act of 2010. The new law would also include sexual abuse of a child, a sibling, or another child in the types of abuse for which the family court may terminate a parent’s parental rights. It also includes training in early childhood, child, and adolescent development in the powers and duties of a lawyer-guardian ad litem (LGAL). Link to MLive Article; Link to Senate Bill 1005 History Comment by C. Enright: At last a potential legislative repeal of the DeVormer v DeVormer decision that said a parent still had a presumption of parenting time with his bio child even though convicted of molesting a non bio child.
US: Number of Babies Born W/ Drug Withdrawal Signs Triples
May 1, AP: Disturbing new research says the number of U.S. babies born with signs of opiate drug withdrawal has tripled in a decade because of a surge in pregnant women’s use of legal and illegal narcotics, including Vicodin, OxyContin and heroin, researchers say. It is the first national study of the problem. Link to Article
US: New Research Expands Understanding of Psychoactive Medication Use Among Children in Foster Care
April 30, Various sources: A few months after the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on the use of psychoactive drugs by children in foster care in five states, a national study from Policy Lab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia describes prescription patterns over time in 48 states. The updated findings show the percentage of children in foster care taking antipsychotics–a class of psychoactive drugs associated with serious side effects for children– continued to climb in the last decade. Link to Yahoo News Article; Link to RxPG News Article; Link to Policy Lab Report; Link to GAO Report
US: Removal of Children from Undocumented Parents Violates Human Rights
Huffington Post April 29, 2012: Our national research organization, the Latino Policy Coalition (LPC) has submitted an official complaint for the Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council regarding the human rights record of the United States of America. Link to Article
US: Adoptive Parents Urge Congress to Reinstate Tax Credit
Wish TV April 29, 2012 Adopting a child is a long and expensive process, but to help offset the costs the federal government offers parents a tax credit. However, the credit is running out at the end of the year and adoptive parents are urging the government to keep the credit around. Link to Article
APPELLATE COURT CASES
Court: Michigan Supreme Court
Case Name: In re C. I. MORRIS and In re J. L. GORDON
These combined cases require us to examine the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 USC 1901 through 1963. In particular, we must decide several issues relating to ICWA’s notice provision, 25 USC 1912(a), which mandates that notice of certain involuntary child custody proceedings be sent to the appropriate Indian tribe or to the Secretary of the Interior “where the court knows or has reason to know that an Indian child is involved We hold first that sufficiently reliable information of virtually any criteria on which tribal membership might be based suffices to trigger the notice requirement. We hold also that a parent of an Indian child cannot waive the separate and independent ICWA rights of an Indian child’s tribe Finally, we hold that the proper remedy for an ICWA-notice violation is to conditionally reverse the trial court and remand for resolution of the ICWA-notice issue. Link to pdf of Full Opinion