Tuesday, April 6, 2021

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending April 6, 2021

● What does it mean to destroy a family after confusing that family’s poverty with neglect? Two stories, one from Kansas City Star editorial writer Toriano Porter the other from Larua Ziegler of KCUR Public Radio examine one such case in Missouri.  I have a blog post about the many lessons from this case, with links to both stories. 

The Imprint takes a new look at Blind Removal Meetings as a way to curb racial bias.  On the one hand, new data suggest the decline in the proportion of Black children torn from their homes in Nassau County, New York, was neither as great nor as steady as originally reported.  On the other hand, Blind Removal Meetings also eliminate data suggesting family income – and that may help explain a dramatic decline in removals of children of all races.  (As you read the story, I think it’s most important to stay focused on all of the numbers, and not on the snide, sneering comments from a take-the-child-and-run extremist who essentially gloats about some of them.) 

● Both the Imprint story and the Missouri stories are built around cases that involve the widespread problem of taking children from victims of domestic violence – even though that was not the primary focus of any of them.  That’s one more indication of how widespread this particular horror, exposed so well by USA Today Network reporters in Florida, is across the country.  And NCCPR has some context on how this widespread practice hurts children. 

● The director of one of those awful parking place “shelters,” this one in Nebraska, claims he hears the cries of foster children.  But Melanie Williams Smotherman of the Family Advocacy Movement and I don’t think he really understands what they’re saying. We have an op-ed column about it in the Lincoln Journal Star. 

● Several state legislatures around the country are considering what can best be called “right to childhood” laws.  One of them is Oklahoma, where the Enid News & Eagle ties the legislation to a larger issue: As the editorial puts it: Poverty does not equal neglect

● The time when the perspective of organizations such as NCCPR is most needed is the time when it is hardest for a reader, or a reporter, to hear that perspective: after learning all about the worst child abuse some monsters -- and in this case that’s the right word -- inflict on children. So I’m grateful to Kim Strong and her colleagues at the York Daily Record for including NCCPR’s perspective in this story. (It's behind a paywall but they've got some good deals.) 

In an interview with NPR Julie Lurie of Mother Jones discusses her story about the real effects of COVID-19 on child welfare: prolonged delays in reunifying families and an ongoing mad rush to terminate parental rights. 

● What happens when a child has an illness and doctors don’t know what to do about it? Accuse the parents of child abuse, of course!  The San Diego Union-Tribune has a story about a lawsuit brought by a family alleging exactly that happened to them.  And Mike Hixenbaugh of NBC News, along with Keri Blakinger and Cayla Harris have a story on a bill that would make it a little harder to do this to families in Texas.  Hixenbaugh and Blakinger have done an extensive series of stories on these issues. 

● And finally, our annual reminder: If it’s April Fools, it must be Child Abuse Hype and Hysteria Month.