Wednesday, November 8, 2023

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending Nov. 7, 2023

● Who says there’s no learning curve in journalism?  Almost exactly 12 years ago, NPR aired a stunning series of reports on the obscene rate at which Native American children are torn from their families in South Dakota.  It was called “Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families.” Almost as obscene: the response from local news outlets which, having been beaten on a huge story in their own backward, often responded by minimizing the findings or, worse, rallying around state government as it offered up excuses!  

Back then, the online publication South Dakota Searchlight did not exist.  The Sioux Falls Argus Leader did, but, given what’s happened to local newspapers odds are almost no one is there now who was there a dozen years ago.  That may explain why these two news organizations now are in the midst of publishing their own excellent series about the enormous harm South Dakota’s family police are inflicting on Native families. It’s called “The Lost Children.” 

● A private company has been vacuuming up the most sensitive personal information imaginable about foster youth and families who might want to adopt them.  Then they plug it into a proprietary algorithm created by people who used to work for an online dating firm. The algorithm supposedly increases the chances of matching the children with adoptive parents.  But the Associated Press reports that the results are, at best, questionable. From the story: 

“We’re using, essentially, kids as guinea pigs for these tools. They are the crash test dummies,” said Suresh Venkatasubramanian, a former assistant director of the Biden White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy now at Brown University. “That’s a big problem right there.” 

● There’s still another study showing that the racist narrative predicting a “pandemic of child abuse” when mandated reporters didn’t constantly have their eyes on poor people’s children was false.  The Deseret News has a story about it

● Speaking of mandatory reporting, there’s a new curriculum out to help mandatory reporters, particularly medical professionals, stop overreporting in cases involving substance use.  Scan the code here:


● California now joins Texas in tackling another source of false reports alleging child abuse: That state has passed a law – albeit a weak one – that may curb anonymous reports.  There’s a story about it and about the harm of anonymous reporting in general, in The Imprint. 

The Albany Times Union reports on a New York State Senate hearing on the harm done to families by New York’s family courts. 

Youth Today looks at programs providing guaranteed monthly income to impoverished families, including a program run by the Mother’s Outreach Network in Washington, D.C. which will provide such help to families currently or previously under the surveillance of the family police. 

And in this week’s edition of The Horror Stories Go in All Directions:

From KXLY-TV, Spokane

Washington State has agreed to pay $16.95 million in a landmark child abuse settlement. 

Multiple lawsuits were filed pertaining to 12 boys who were sexually and physically abused at the J Bar D Boys Ranch north of Spokane, which is under the care of the state. The group home is now "a shuttered facility in lone." 

The boys were ages 10-15 when the abuse happened in the late 1970s to mid 1980s after being removed to the state's custody. The boys were subjected to rampant sexual and physical abuse by staff and older residents. 

From The Arkansas Advocate:

 A federal lawsuit filed Monday alleges repeated sexual and physical abuse of children at The Lord’s Ranch, a residential treatment facility in Northeast Arkansas that closed in 2016. 

Lawyers for the plaintiffs — eight former residents who were reportedly abused as boys — said this is the first of several lawsuits they will file on behalf of the more than 30 clients. … 

And just in time for National Adoption Month:

From the Associated Press

Iowa will pay $10 million to the siblings of an adopted 16-year-old girl who weighed just 56 pounds (25 kilograms) when she died of starvation in a home where an attorney for the siblings says the children were forced to fight each other for food. 

and from The Boston Globe concerning a case in New Hampshire: 

A superior court judge is considering whether to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a Plymouth woman who is suing her adoptive parents for abusing her. She is also suing the state, New Boston police, and others, for failing to protect her from that abuse. 

On Tuesday, Merrimack Superior Judge John C. Kissinger heard arguments from state and police lawyers on their motion to dismiss Olivia Atkocaitis’s lawsuit, which alleges she endured years of extreme physical and psychological abuse and was kept locked in the family’s New Boston basement. She also alleges local police and state social workers did not intervene even though they knew about and documented the abusive household.