Government intrusion into family life is on the rise

Remember little Elian Gonzales, the 7-year-old Cuban boy who in 2000 was forcibly taken from his family by federal agents in Miami? This dramatic — but unfortunately not unusual — involvement of government in the parent-child relationship shows how law and politics are intruding into family life. “Parental Rights” are becoming controversial. The United Nation even has a “Convention on the Rights of the Child.” It makes you wonder how “Honor thy father and mother” was replaced by “It takes a village.”


Federal agents retrieve Elián from his relatives’ home in Miami. This photo would win the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Three cases are in the news. The first is that of Justina Pelletier who was placed under state guardianship because the doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital claimed she was faking an unusual disease under the prodding of her parents. The hospital claimed that the parents were suffering from Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy and were therefore endangering their child. In fact, the parents relied on the doctors of Tufts University who had diagnosed the girl with the disease. This case is still pending but the girl has been returned to Tufts.

The second is the case of Rachel Canning, the New Jersey teen who sued her parents for “child support” when they refused to financially support her or allow her to live in their home without following their rules. That case is also pending but, so far, she’s been unsuccessful.

Third, but not last, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn the deportation of a German family that requested asylum because they claimed religious persecution. In Germany, home schooling is illegal. They are Christians who wanted to home school their children for religious reasons.

In each case the “village” comes in the form of government agents, caseworkers, judges and others who, ultimately, are backed by men with guns. These folks think they know better than parents what the kids need

Now, I’m not so much of a purist to believe that the state should never be involved in parental rights cases. But as the morality of the state diverges from that of parents, the cases of conflict are sure to arise more often. The U.N. treaty would, if adopted by the United States,  supersede all state and federal laws regarding children. The treaty would ban corporal punishment, make every parental decision subject to court review as in the Canning  case, and, of course, give girls a right to an abortion without any notice to the parents.

Do we really believe an overworked caseworker, let alone some U.N. bureaucrat, cares more or knows better than a parent about their child? Do we think that Judges, with no training in counseling or sociology, can all have the wisdom of Soloman to set “standard” visitation schedules for all divorcing couples in a county? If parents could work these things out themselves it begs the question: Why couldn’t they work out the other issues in their marriage?

If you don’t want the government raising your kids, it’s up to you to do a better job of picking your partner and keeping your family together. Marriage is the ideal. Parents should be in charge. Kids deserve it.

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10 Responses to “Government intrusion into family life is on the rise”

  1. Christy Besozzi

    Regarding the government not accepting the German parents seeking asylum here because of alleged ‘persecution’, it is not unusual. The government is usually strict on deciding who is a persecuted party and who is not in order to discourage people from circumventing legal immigration. Did they apply to immigrate. No mention anywhere I see. And from what I read, they have been granted asylum – which I’m not sure is really applicable since they were not in physical danger and, as mentioned, there was apparently no application for immigration.

    The teen who is suing her parents – with no ruling yet from the courts. You are very premature in saying the government is doing anything here. Condemn the teen, not the government.

    And, Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy is a real and dangerous occurrence. The medical people would have been negligent to NOT take steps to protect the child. The government may need to be the child’s protector in such a case. Better safe than having an abused or dead child due to the parent’s potential psychological disturbance. There was a verified case here in NW Ohio about a decade ago. Truly tragic.

    Sorry, Nick, but these cases just indicate the complexity of life, not some government conspiracy to persecute its citizens.

  2. Michele Joseph

    Yes, I agree, people should do a better job of picking their partners and they suhould do better by their partners & kids. But, no marriage is not always the ideal, if one of the parents is bad in some way.
    There is a BIG difference between what should be & what is.
    I have personal experience with this question.
    I was taken from my parents at the age of six. I was taken by police.
    I remember that day vividly.
    I can tell you that, yes, sometimes it can happen that police caseworkers and judges can care more than the parents.
    I remember that day vividly. Here’s what else I remember. That night ,at St. Anthony’s Villa on Cherry St., I slept inside, not in a car where it was quieter than the goings-on in the house ! I was clean & wore clean pajamas ! There was chapel in the morning & three meals a day !
    Later, I was adopted by a family with a wonderful saint of a dad , a not so great mom, but, none-the-less, a wonderful situation, private schools, travel, beautiful home, pets, and, mercifully, not a drop of alcohol in the house.
    I remember sitting on the officer’s lap, eating candy, riding with the social worker, chewing gum ! For the first time ! I remember the day with the judge” Do you want them to be your Mommy & Daddy ?”, and my “YES!” and I remember the Sisters, my first Moms, who took care of me & didn’t bump into things.
    So, first hand, take it from me- the state, the village, the system can most definitely be better.
    A lot of kids would be permanently stuck in a bad situation without outside intervention.
    Parents should do right by their kids, but sometimes, they just can’t do it.

  3. nick batt

    As I’ve said before, I’m no purist on these matters but I find it very problematic that the government takes the “better safe” attitude as though “state intervention=safety”. This practice turns “innocent till proven guilty” on its head. Since the system is full of social workers, counselors, and the like who claim to provide medical services, at least they should follow the Hippocratic Oath “First, do no harm”.
    According to US /HHS on any given day, there are approximately 397,000 in foster care. children entering foster care remain there on average for more than two years. That can’t be good for kids. And the median time in foster care is going up. Nine percent of children in foster care have languished there for over five years. More than 58,000 children living in foster care have had their biological parental rights permanently terminated. On average it takes over 22 months to place these kids with adoptive parents. Again too long. According to The Casey Family Program, the longer in foster care the less likely they will ever be reunited with their parent. Foster care is not “safe”.
    As for Munchhausen’s, there is no objective assessment tool for its diagnosis. Rather, it is purely a subjective judgment of counselors. Locally the “Children’s Advocacy Center” trains non-professional children’s advocates who participate in the cases. The trainer uses so called art therapy to “help” the child express the abuse. Of course the art can only be read and interpreted by the trainer. Just like a fortune teller reading tea leaves.

  4. Michele Joseph

    I sure do understand your concern.
    The experience I had that I wrote about happened 50 years ago, so I don’t
    know what the situation was then.
    But, I do know how it works today.
    Nobody just marches in and takes the children.
    It’s a very lengthy process.
    First, someone reports a concern to Children’s Protective Services.
    Then, within a couple of days, CPS shows up unannounced at the child’s residence.
    The parent/s are interviewed. If siblings are present, the siblings are interviewed,each one in private, out of sight of the parents & other siblings.
    The caseworker tours the home & yard, looking at the contents of the refrigerator & pantry, children’s rooms & drawers,( to see if there are sufficient clean-well-fiting clothes.
    She assesses the cleanliness of the house.
    If the child is not present, she asks when the child is usually home & comes back later unannounced.
    Later, in her office, she does background checks on the adults in the house, criminal checks, police records, everything.
    If there is a problem, be it drug & alcohol, domestic abuse, insufficient food,
    insufficient child care, medical problems, the mom and/ or dad are given a resource book listing, food banks, domestic abuse shelters, anger management classes respite care, enrollment in disability , food stamps, whatever is needed,.
    The caseworker signs the family up fir all that is necessary.
    She returns weekly, more or less, unannounced.
    If necessary,mom and or dad go into rehab.
    If the situation is dire the kids are kept in foster care while she repairs the situation
    It takes about six months to a year before anybody even begins to even mention removal.
    So, in short, Mom and/or Dad are given every chance possible to resolve the problem so the family can be kept together.
    It’s not taken lightly at ALL.
    Removal from your parents creates a life-long psychological scar, and everybody knows that.
    They won’t do it unless DOCTORS, M.D.’s ,psychiatrists, psychologists, have determined that the damage of staying exceeds the damage of being taken away, which, if you are old enough to understand & remember is catastrophic.

  5. Michele Joseph

    Which, I might add, is why the child needs God.
    The child needs God to survive & thrive, when the entire rest of the world
    has betrayed & failed him.
    For many who have been to hell, the presence of God is a survival need.

  6. nick batt

    Under O.Rev.Code sec.2151.31(D) “… a juvenile judge or a designated referee may grant by telephone an ex parte (without notice) emergency order authorizing the taking of the child into custody if there is probable cause to believe that (there has been abuse or neglect)” No notice to parents, no hearing, just a phone call from Children’s Services(LCCSB). Then the parent or as LCCSB calls them “the perp”, has to prove his or her innocence. The process you describe can happen but it is not required. This circumstance arises with some frequency where there is unresolved bitterness between the parents and the children are used as pawns.

  7. Michele Joseph

    I think there are different results if the parents afe uncooperative.
    For instance, in a situation domestic abuse – the mom is given a resource list. She’s informed of shelters in the area. Now, say she refuses to leave him.
    Wham !
    Now, SHE’S not taking care of the kids.
    At a certain point, it becomes a choice between him or the kids.
    But, if her reason is because of dependency, they’ll line her up with vocational
    Some women cannot leave no matter what, they’re too dependant.
    But, what you’re describing, isn’t that if there is some kind of BIG, immediately dangerous problem, like guns laying around, or sexual abuse or kids coming to school beat up, or meth or heroin or dope or something ?
    I haven’t heard much about what you are describing.
    How. know all this, is that my daughter is autistic, and she used to self-mutilate out of frustration. I didn’t know what was wrong with her, She wouldn’t stay dressed , either.
    Someone from the school reported it, and said we were burning her with cigarettes, so CPS came, I said I didn’t know why she did that,
    And they were WONDERFUL.
    They helped me get a diagnosis, get her enrolled in early intervention pre-school, doctors, therapists, the whole deal. After her diagnosis, CPS caseworker passed off the case to MRDD.
    They were guardian angels.
    Lord knows, I’m definitely not one to be a big fan of the government, but in regard to children’s services, they were my best friend.
    I must say , though, I have heard of spouses doing that to each other, that’s true.
    But I wouldn’t want to get rid of CPS to solve that problem.
    Thst ine is beyond me.


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