Friday, September 10, 2010

GUEST BLOG: Countering the “reflex to remove children”

    Here is another response from the comments posted to the New York Times website, reacting to Chris Gottlieb's excellent essay on the Times' "Motherlode" blog:

East Coast
August 26th, 2010
2:55 pm

I am a county solicitor in a city on the East Coast, representing the County Children and Youth agency in court, and a parent who commutes to work with her child. Thank you for writing this. Although many of the social workers I represent in court care deeply about maintaining and supporting intact families, too often there is a reflex to remove children for 'choices' or problems that result from poverty. And there's just an awful lot of judging of parents in general.

During my commute people have periodically told me I should smack my child for fidgeting (he's a toddler), and just as many others have told me I'm too strict. One woman chased me up the subway stairs berating me about my parenting. I don't think she was "well," but it didn't make it feel any better.

The abuse that commenter No. 5 writes about is terrible -- but that's not how most kids come into care. After bringing her kid to the ER with a broken wrist and a black eye, from two different skating accidents, one of my friends noted that not one person took her or the child aside to ask questions about the injuries, which certainly they would have done if she'd been poor and black or Latino. So thank you for what you do.

       That last paragraph, about the experience of the white middle-class professional, reminds me of another professional who has written essays about child abuse – someone who still has a lot to learn, as is discussed in this previous post.