Tuesday, September 19, 2023

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending September 19, 2023

We start this week with something a little different.  It’s a picture from the Twitter feed of Prof. Deadric Williams of the University of Tennessee, showing him during one of his lectures – and one of the slides he uses.  He uses it to illustrate the desperate efforts of “scholars” to avoid facing up to the fact that the usual reason for racial disparities in any field, including family policing, is racism:

● You know how family police agencies say they never take children because of poverty  - and certainly not poverty alone?  If that were true, then in Massachusetts (which, by the way, tears apart families at a rate 65% above the national average) there’d be no need for this charity.  It provides astoundingly small amounts of cash or basic goods so children can stay home or return home because, guess what, they were taken, or are now trapped in foster care, because of poverty alone.  Check out the story in Business Insider. 

● In much the same way, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, is piloting a program in which poverty cases are referred directly to family defenders who arrange for the concrete help families need.  It’s an excellent program – but why is it just a tiny add-on to a system built on family policing and foster care?  And as you read the cases cited by Cleveland.com consider: Why were these cases ever a family police agency’s business in the first place?

● Back in Massachusetts, consider another group family police love to persecute – survivors of domestic violence.  They do it even though the damage to children from needless removal is compounded when they are taken in these circumstances.  Check out the story from The Boston Globe. Then check out how even the most minimal efforts to curb this harm to children were thwarted by the state’s “Child Advocate” Maria Mossaides

● I’ve linked to stories in which family defenders describe what they see every day.  I’ve linked to a story in which a lawyer for children describes what she sees every day.  And now, Mother Jones tells us about what caseworkers see every day:

 One woman talked softly about “apprehending” a 2-day-old baby, and recalled crying when she was praised for doing her job. Another described being sent out to take children from good parents who lived in shoddy housing. A third told how her colleagues would warn their own children, “If somebody has a badge like Mommy, don’t talk to them until I get there.”

● More data are in from New York City debunking the racist myth spread by so many advocates – and journalists – at the start of the pandemic that COVID would set off a “pandemic of child abuse.” Instead, New York City children are safer.  I have a blog post about it. 

● Also in New York City, Black Agenda Radio interviews Anne Venhuizen of The Bronx Defenders about their big win against the family police – successfully suing the family police agency for tearing a child from her mother at birth because the mother smoked marijuana.  The interview starts at 27:15 in

● And The Brooklyn Eagle reports on the testimony submitted by New York's family defenders to the New York Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the harm done to children when their parents are wrongly listed on a giant blacklist – a central registry of those caseworkers may only vaguely suspect of abuse.

● Arizona joins the list of states providing Miranda rights for families.  I’d link to a story but the story about the bill that includes the Miranda rights makes no mention of it!  So just check out the last four pages of the bill itself

Lots of news this week about “child abuse pediatricians”: 

The Seattle Times has a fascinating profile of the doctor who pushes back against Washington State’s most fanatical child abuse pediatricians.  Contrast her humanity with the child abuse pediatrician who opposes her because, after all, he’s checked his own work and says “he could think of only a handful of cases where he’s been wrong.”  Don’t you feel better already? 

● Another child abuse pediatrician who got in trouble in New York and then in Florida for allegedly misdiagnosing child abuse, apparently is in trouble in Pennsylvania, too.  In the wake of a scathing report from a county auditor, The Morning Call reports, she was just relieved of her job running the “child advocacy center" at the local hospital.  But she’ll still be on the payroll, working part-time “at other locations.”  The Philadelphia Inquirer has an overview of the case – and be sure to read the last two paragraphs. 

● A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that in some cases, a diagnosis beloved by some child abuse pediatricians, “shaken baby syndrome” is “junk science.” 

● And in Florida jury selection is beginning in one of the most notorious cases involving child abuse pediatrics – the case at the center of the Netflix documentary Take Care of Maya.