Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Child abuse fatalities commission has found the answer: Throw platitudes at the problem!

Try our "Mad Libs version" of the commission's
latest blog post

 Have you heard about the computer program that can churn out political speeches.  Apparently, such speeches are so predictable and so clichéd that now a literal machine can write for a political machine.

I thought of that as I read the collection of strung-together platitudes that constitutes the latest  blog post from the so-called Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect fatalities. Just how devoid of content is this thing?  Well, you can read the original here.

Or, make it a little less painful by just looking below at what I call the Mad Libs version.  I’ve removed all references specific to child welfare and child abuse fatalities.  But other than that, it’s exactly what Comission Chair David Sanders allegedly wrote.  Try filling in the blanks with just about any other pressing problem – race relations, the global economy, education, poverty, environmental protection.  I particularly like the fact that item #1 on the list of “three major problems” can be used for almost anything without changing even one word.

So, for anyone out there who might someday chair a “blue-ribbon commission” file this away.  You never know when you might need it:


_______  Today and Envisioning a Stronger ___________ System for the Future

As the Commission nears the end of its work on the issue of ____________, it is clear that there are no simple answers to this complex challenge.

There have been promising findings from a few communities that have come together in ways that appear to be reducing _______________. These approaches are hopeful, and the Commission will build its recommendations off of what we’ve learned about what works and what does not and what approaches appear to hold promise. Unfortunately, we found only a few well-researched programs that are demonstrated to ______________ and only a handful of communities that had chosen to attempt to _______________. Furthermore, we found that a coordinated national response that reflects and responds to the urgency of the present crisis is lacking.

Based on the promising efforts we observed, we identified three major challenges facing communities that hindered efforts to reform _____________:

First, there is a lack of sustained leadership and accountability at the federal, state, and local levels. Leadership on this issue will require strategic planning, coordination across multiple agencies, sustained focus, and a level of resources to bring about significant change.

There is also a lack of evidence-based research and clear data about _________________. There is no standard mandated reporting system _______________, and definitions, investigative procedures, and reporting requirements vary from state to state.

And finally, a lack of cross-system collaboration places too much of the onus on ______ for __________________.

As we have heard from agencies across the spectrum, in order for any strategy to succeed, it will need to include a multidisciplinary model that features meaningful and mutually accountable partnerships among ________________, and more. We recognize that this kind of deeply rooted collaboration, while necessary to generate real and lasting solutions, takes time.

Yet we know that there is no time to waste if we are to ______________right now, today. As we completed this work, we read hundreds of headlines about ____________________. Not a day has gone by that we haven’t thought about _____________.

That is why, as we near the release of our final report, our Commission is reviewing options for both immediate recommendations that will begin to ____________ right away and comprehensive changes to create a redefined _______________ of the 21st century.

Solving the issue of _____________________is within our reach, if we can apply the lessons of the past, act with urgency to _______________, and create a new vision for a more effective ____________ system of the future.

There is, however, a very serious side to all this.  Whatever problem you used to fill in the blanks, odds are it was an issue with serious consequences for a lot of people.  The issue of child abuse fatalities is among the most serious imaginable. But it is throwing platitudes at the problem that trivializes it, not pointing out that those platitudes and recycled bad ideas are all this commission has got.