When "Neglect" is Not Necessarily Abuse.

in familyprotection •  2 months ago

I recently read a thought provoking post and linked article from @mepatriot. It was about how the poor get targeted by child protective services way more than the rich and its usually for “neglect.” Such a vague word anyway and so open to interpretation, depending on your way of thinking.

When my father was growing up, soon after the war, his family was poor. Food and clothing were a limited resource for him and his 3 siblings. As a baby he apparently wore his sister’s old clothes. They could afford one pair of shoes a year and this wasn't always for every one of them. When the shoes developed holes, they put cardboard in them. They couldn't afford washing machines, so laundry day was on the weekend and everyone pitched in. These children learnt to do hard graft, because there was no other choice and food was not always a filling meal, despite their best efforts. They were, however, well loved and a close knit family. My father recalls his childhood memories fondly, despite the hardships.

Source, pixabay

Although we might not like to admit it, there are poor families in first world countries to this day. They struggle to put meals on the table, the only place they can afford to live might be infested with vermin and in order to put food on the table they might have to work and leave older siblings in charge of younger ones or ask a friend or neighbour to keep a watch on them, if they aren't also having to work.

In a wealthy country this is not as common as it used to be and it's easy to think that children living in bad conditions or not always getting enough to eat are being neglected and not cared for. Yet a child left at home unsupervised, is not necessarily unloved or uncared for. It could purely be that the working parent can't afford childcare and the work that keeps them away from the children is the only thing that puts food on the table and a roof over their heads.

The problem with the use of the word “neglect” by child protective services as a form of abuse, is that it isn't the same as abuse unless purposely done. If a family is quite able to feed their children, but doesn't, then there's no disputing that this is abuse. It's done from a lack of love and care.

A child's developing brain is incredibly sensitive. It has been found that abused children and adults abused as children have a higher rate experiencing hallucinations. This, to me, indicates trauma to the brain development and the head doesn't need to experience physical trauma for this to happen. It's also common for those who've been subject to child abuse to develop split personalities and block out certain memories, subconsciously.

Removing a child from their home environment is a traumatic experience for them. It is, in its own way, abusive. So unless the abuse being experienced by the child is already way above the trauma that their removal would cause, this action should surely never be considered. A child will most certainly cry over hunger, but to snatch them away from their loving care giver is not helping matters. Surely in this situation a form of assistance is needed. In first world countries it is a failure of our system if we can't make sure that families have access to food and a roof over their head.

In the article, linked by @mepatriot, an example was given of a woman who lost her children into foster care for 3 years because the only accommodation she could afford at the time had a rat problem, which made it nearly impossible to keep fresh foods in. They weren't returned to her until she was able to get new accommodation and have some mandated parenting classes. Essentially the message was that she was too poor to be a good parent. While the children were eventually returned to their mother, who knows what damage those three years did to their developing brains and what issues it will cause. That can’t be undone. What if, instead, she'd had help to find a place which didn't have rats? What sort of message could that have sent to these children about caring for one another?

People all have different perceptions of what is a good or bad way to parent. My sister-in-law thought that my children missed out, because in her opinion, how I dressed them wasn't in a style that she considered good enough. They weren't trendy enough because I didn't buy the latest fashions. I choose to stay at home with my children to have quality time with them, rather than go to work, then couldn't afford to spend on lavish things for them. Not that I believe that giving them everything they want makes for a rounded adult, even if I could have afforded it. She chose a family environment where both parents work full time and they can buy everything the children ever want, but don't necessarily use. So she believes, again, that my children missed out because they didn't have lots of expensive things.

She might think my children neglected because I don't buy them enough and I might think her children neglected because she doesn't stay at home with them. I could say that I feel that her family dynamics aren't a comfortable environment, because they argue a lot in comparison to our quiet family. However, I know that she loves her boys and is doing what she thinks is right by them. They in return love their parents.

“Neglect” should never be a reason to take a child from their family, it's too open to interpretation. It needs to be proven abuse, or there is a risk of abuse in the actual removal of the child from their home.

Thank you, @mepatriot for a thought provoking post. I was going to comment, but it got a bit long, so here is my response for you!

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Thank-you @life-relearnt for submitting this post with the #familyprotection tag. It has been UPVOTED by @familyprotection and RESTEEMED TO OUR Community Supporters.

"Child Protection Agencies" are taking children away from their loving families.

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Outstanding. You are right on the money with the inherent injustice of allowing poorly trained $75,000/yr. "social workers" decide what is neglect for $15-20k/year families.

"It’s a tragedy that children are being taken away from their parents for problems that can’t be solved with parenting classes. We can’t just separate kids from their parents, tell those parents to fix issues that are impossible to fix, and tell ourselves we’re solving the problem."

That's a quote from the bottom of the article linked. Did you even stop to ask yourself how was it she fixed a problem that the author made claims couldn't be fixed in the first place? Have you asked yourself how come it took the mother three years to fix the problem? If someone took my kids over an issue of living in a rat infested apartment it wouldn't take me three years to find somewhere else to move to get them back if that was the only problem at hand. Sort of the same question I find myself asking about parents who live in high crime area's of Chicago where they make claims they sent their kids out to the bus stop for school in the morning not knowing if their child will get shot or not . Who decides to live like that? What compels them to stay in such neighborhoods? What compels people to put their children's lives at stake rather then think outside the box and move? When do we not make the well being of our children the priority in our lives? Could that possibly be it's the mindset that they themselves grew up in that made that choice seem normal? How do you break a mindset like that? Evidently by having them take classes or go to counseling, as was what happened in this case. It changed a mindset, a pattern that seemed normal, removing the children provided the incentive or motivation to learn a different thought process. Moving forward with what she has learned and those who were there to support her in that endeavor leaves a lasting impression of positive reinforcements to her decision making, making her a better parent to her children then her parent(s) did for her. There's actually a phrase for it, it's called breaking the chain, or breaking the cycle of abuse. In the end they will be better off then they were before, it sure beats staying in a rat infested apartment where the rats ate all the food that left a child undernourished.


There was a time when is have said the same as you, but experiences have taught me not to be so quick to judge. When we have never been in the position that these people are in, are we really in a position to make a judgement on them and assume that we could do better?

I also now know the damage which can be caused mentally by removing children from their family. It screws them up as adults and continues a cycle where they are likely to have their own children taken into care because they didn't get the chance to learn what good family dynamics are. Sure, educate and help parents through these things, but don't take the children from them, you're only punishing them and the children.

Like you said, growing up with a certain mindset is hard to break. Disrupting a child by moving them around to different care takers doesn't help to break that cycle, though.

If you come from a poor neighbourhood, the chances are that you can't afford to leave it. If you pack up and walk out of there with your children, you end up on the streets of a richer neighbourhood, where you're children are going to be taken from you again. When your address is in certain district, even getting a job in better districts is less likely because your address will go against you. I've seen it time and time again. It's a cycle that's hard to get out of and believe me, these people try.

I live in Australia where the attitude towards the aboriginals is appalling. I can see where it stems from, because culturally they are nothing like us and come across as filthy and uncouth. However, once you start to realise where their culture is coming from, you start see how our cultural expectations are only making things worse for them and putting their families into further danger. When people actually start trying to work with them in a way that they can connect with them, things improve dramatically.

As for why it took 3 years; it may not have taken that long for her to fix the problem, but can often take that long for parents to fight the court to get their children back and that would have been as expensive as trying to fix the problem if not more so. Court is rarely a quick process.


I have lived the situation except instead of rats it was cockroaches. There were so many of them it wasn't unusual to have them drop off the ceiling onto the dinner table, every cupboard you opened was infiltrated with them. I didn't get taken from my parents over that through. They moved and anything they didn't feel comfortable taking with them that they couldn't guarantee themselves wouldn't carry them along they left behind. The reason we got taken was because my dad was basically an all out pervert in life, an alcoholic and so was my mom, both struggled intellectually, my mom was totally illiterate and my dad struggled to spell even the most basic of words. My dad started selling my mom to his friends, then acquaintances, then strangers until one of them that came along threw my dad out and turned our house into a house of prostitution. By the time CPS got involved it was to late for my older sister, who had been sexually abused not just by my dad but by the men whom my mom's new boy friend brought into the house. I remember a lot of times threatening to scream to ward off strange men coming into our room at night looking for her. There is so much more in between that happened as to why she fell victim to this prey but for me it was an experience I've never fully overcome, same as my fear of cockroaches that use to run over top of me when I slept at night, most who have tried to wake me by touching me in a deep sleep will warn you that's probably not a good idea. After we were taken my sister never settled down in foster care, they tried letting her stay with an aunt of ours but she slit the screen of the bedroom window and off she went. As the stories unfolded in court of what all transpired over the years in our house my dad found himself going to prison for raping my sister serving time alongside the same men including my moms boyfriend of doing exactly the same thing. My mom stood alongside that man in court, I don't think she did it because she didn't realize the wrong involved but back then as a uneducated women she was dependent upon this man just like she was with my dad, she didn't have a whole lot of options but to take the abuse along with it. Along the way she met my step dad, whom she is still with today, a great guy, he was the one who helped her get the kids back after bringing some stabilization into her life but it would be forever lost on my sister who never made it back home. She'd go on to years of being in girls institutions to wild for reforms. Just as with some of my brothers, the traits learned from my dad, (he was also a thrief) the undisciplined lifestyle as young children and the years of abuse taken from my mom took it's toll on them all in the end. When it became time for me to return home obviously it was before my older sister as told but I was bumped out of line as the second oldest because no one could handle one of my brothers. What all this leads to is the misconception that foster homes are often to blame in all this when in fact it is the damage that is already done to the children. The only two out of the six of us that came out of this leading somewhat normal lives were me and my youngest sister, who ended up spending the bulk of her life in foster care. When I went into foster care I was in the fifth grade and I couldn't even read a word and my teeth were quite deteriorated. When I came out of foster care I was able to read, my teeth were fixed and by the seventh grade I was an honor roll student. My youngest sister led a pretty normal path and despite some pretty horrific circumstances that befell her marriage she went on to raise her kids on her own though I've always viewed her when it came to her adopted sons as being a wicked step mother type. My oldest sister? She never did settle down, went on to have a child who went into foster care then later up for adoption, that child thrives today, she graduated from college, moved to Florida, is a successful business woman who lives with her boyfriend who is a pilot...her sisters though who came later, went on to be subjected to many years of abuse by my sister, who ended up being taken from her by their father in California after he led her out there and they then spent many, many years of being abused by him as he trotted them across the country from one spot to another. My sister would never make it back she was chopped up into pieces after running into Leonard Lake and Charles Ng the duo involved in California's worse mass murder case. After her death I spent many years trailing her daughters trying at every opportunity available to keep them from him. When I would finally get CPS or someone in another state called on him when he'd run off with them he was always allowed to give them to his sister then when the spotlight was off she'd give them back to him. When they were old enough to understand they didn't have to take his abuse we set up a code word, they'd call me, if he beat them they'd say black cat, meaning bruises, if they said white cat it meant no food. One day I came home from work and black cat was on my messages. I called CPS, they didn't want to listen to me I had to beg them to go there, when they did they found he beat one of them with an extension cord. He was good at that, one time my sister came home and her whole back side was covered in bruises from an extension cord beating. This time would be different for him though for I was in counseling and the counselor had at one time worked for CPS, she still had connections, this time his sister didn't get them. The damage was done though, it was to late, despite all the wonderful things the foster parents did for them it wasn't enough to keep them from wanting to run back home. He'd eventually lead them back and forth across the country using them to prostitute, addicting them to drugs. One was killed about three years ago out in Arizona run over by a car after being involved in a street fight with another homeless person and the other was recently released from prison after doing four years for robbery. Between the two of them they have ten children, the oldest of the two had a child who went up for adoption here, she went on to have another child who she let a friend in Arizona adopt after she was taken from her, it was an open adoption, that girl is healthy and thriving, living in Texas with her adopted mother, graduated high school and quite often paste photos on my FB doing things typical fun things healthy young people do, her two sons I've never met nor have pictures for, their father has custody of them in Texas. The youngest one her five kids were taken from her here, they live somewhere in a small town with an adoptive family who took them all together. Somehow I think that folds out into their oldest sister who went up for adoption as a child finally meeting her other side the family she didn't know about coming upon her sister and doing something about the situation they were living in, I think she knows who has those children, maybe someone related to her own adoptive parents. The last child the youngest one had a family in California has that child.

I think this whole thing is lost on a lot of people, there seems to be a certain point when it becomes to late to intervening, and what people see as a continuing bad behavior pattern after foster care isn't a reflection upon foster parents it's a reflection upon what happened to those kids before they went into foster care. I could write a book, I've even been told by psychologist to write a book. There were six of us, that was a long, long road to travel and those roads led to a lot of detours.

I firmly believe that the overwhelmingly majority of children taken before it's to late stand a better chance, I am not saying these kids never go back or all should go up for adoption, I am just saying there is a time frame that can possibly make a difference, a lasting impression between what being a good or bad parent can be about. There will always be failures on both sides the isle but I don't feel the vast majority of those failures comes at the expense of foster parents being the blame.

That oldest niece of mine? She has recently went on to open a corporation to help support foster children, she has an incredible gratitude towards the foster care system and how it can make a difference in someone's life. You can take at look at it here:



I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone and all I can say is full power to you for surviving it. I'm glad at least some of your family were reached soon enough to be rescued from that and the cycle broken with them. Everyone reacts differently to abuse (this I know) and some can't be reached, but some, like yourself, can learn from it and break the cycle. I'd never down play what you or anyone went through. It's revolting what some people are capable of. These cases need intervention and the majority of the time the CPS does the right thing by them when they do intervene. I know some amazing foster carers and I know that they have been saviours for many children. I've written about a couple.

The times that CPS fails children aren't very common, but if left unaddressed mistakes could be seen as what is being implemented is working well and it could escalate. I realise that what you see familyprotection doing goes against what your experiences have been, but the people who started it have experienced mistakes which have harmed from the other side and feel a need to highlight it. Those particular people have never said that CPS never does good and have resteemed stories where CPS intervention was the best thing that happened. Some people who write for the tag are embroiled in a situation where they are being hounded by CPS for one little mistake and it's hard for them to see the wood for the trees. No institution is secure from bad elements getting in and for the person on the receiving end it's their whole world.

Parents make mistakes, but that doesn't make them irredeemable if they learn from that and determine to make things right, then systems should be in place to facilitate that. This post was highlighting the ambiguity of using neglect as a reason for removing children and my opinion is that it's too open to interpretation and sticking with proving abuse should be the goal. It's not hard to prove abuse from neglectful behaviour, so I don't think it's a bad step to take to be sure they maintain a balance which keeps them from overstepping the mark.

The activism from familyprotection is important to make sure those who run afoul of the foibles of the system are heard, but so is your activism as a voice for those harmed by abuse. Thank you for sharing your story, I know it's not easy and hope you'll always continue to speak out. Activism is necessary on both sides of any argument to get a balanced middle, but the fact is that both sides will end up clashing; it's just the nature of it.

I sit in the middle, drawing information from both sides because I've experienced both sides either directly or indirectly. Sometimes it can start to get unbalanced as the majority of stories come from one side, which is why we need the stories to come in from the other side too.

Again, thank for sharing this here.


I fully understand that, and I totally agree there are people who should never have been foster parents, my sister and her husband were perfect examples of that so would the 85 foster children who died in foster care for the last year statistics would be available for, obviously those parents should have never been foster parents. Every bureaucracy will find it has offenders in the system, whether it's those who fraud or those who abuse children. We don't have to even go government when you consider the Catholic Church and their abuses.

My main gripe with this site is you have to bash the system for acceptance, you are only allow to be rewarded for portraying the abusive side, when it comes to the stories I have to tell I could only tell one side the story, the rest would be a complete waste of my time. There's no telling of the positives of foster care on this site, I have yet to see it. What I do see here quite a bit is slanting of the stories. I would consider this one a slant even, we all know that rats aren't the total reason for her child being malnourished. Rats can get into a lot of things but unless they can open a refrigerator door her excuse that the rats were eating the fresh foods her doctor wanted her to feed her child just doesn't cut it. There's more to this story, I often times when I go look if a name is provided I find the same result. People on this site scour the internet and leave out crucial information of the parents behavior. They know this is a easy site to make a few bucks quick so they take advantage of it. Yes I find stories that given a name were very much true to the core, I've even taken some crap for pointing out the validity of a claim after looking at it a couple times. (Those I think were based on political bias being involved when someone in politics had shady record towards children) It's so easy to come on here and tell your story incognito, for all we know someone could just be making that up, money is a funny motivator that way. At a minimum these people could redact their identifying information and post pictures of their court record(s), charges or segments that backup what they are saying. How hard could it be to show a paragraph describing one's only charge was a rat infestation?

I could do like someone else on here and scour the internet for profit by picking all the bias stuff out of articles, or make reports based off organizations who have a bias, even find stuff that's been posted on here time and again and I could even make myself another account and come up with a fictitious story of how I lost my children and spend a year making money off it here even though there's no truth behind it at all, but that's not me, just like it's not me to tell the bad side of a story while leaving out the good, it just wouldn't represent me as who I am or who I am as a whole.


I'm with you; when it comes to a lot of media articles, journalists can often grab a part of a story and run with it. There's often a lot more to it than they report. I try to avoid them or at least do more research before quoting anything. It's why I don't post that often in this area. I felt a bit more comfortable with this one as it was coming from a defense attorney who would have had more intimate knowledge of the case. I wouldn't expect them to release details of their client either.

I too wondered about the fridge, but Then remembered that not everyone has fridges. When you're used to a certain standard of living it can be hard to comprehend that there are people in your own country who can't even reach that basic standard of furnishing. It surprised me when I first came across the fact, but I guess it makes sense when the cheapest fridges rarely last and cost more to fix than buying a new cheap one.

I feel your frustration with this site. I try to avoid that side of it and keep our of the arguments most of the time. I don't use this account for earning, all liquid rewards get donated and would whether I get a big vote or not. A big vote on the family protection ones does benefit them, however. I don't often get such big ones for the education ones I do, but it's no skin off my nose either way.

Yes, my bias in this post is towards the faults in the system. It's what I'm trying to bring attention to. It's not an attempt to pull it down, more to address problem areas with the idea of neglect. Not that a few voices could ever bring the system down, but enough noise can hopefully cause them to address matters when things go wrong. I donate to FP because they have no funding to try and help those who do end up fighting the system. The CPS already has funding.

There may very well be people making up stories to try and get some money from the FP votes. You're right, money can make for dishonesty, but if I assume that's what they're all doing then I lump genuine people in with that and no-one's experience should be dismissed.

I have previously read a post about someone's good experience in foster care which was resteemed by FP. I've also read resteemed stories of family abuse from those who didn't go into the system. I believe they would have been pleased to have your story added, but I think it's a bit late for that as it looks like you've been muted. I guess you rubbed someone up the wrong way. ;) I get it, though, there is a preconception that they don't highlight things that have been good about the system, so most people don't think they can tag it for that. Barge tags his posts about child abuse to them and they aren't about the system, only abuse and healing from it.

Actually, I wish you would share you story of you are happy to. I agree that you should write a book. These stories need to be told, or we don't get to know they exist and they can be easily denied. Also, there are more sides to steemit than family protection. Perhaps you could start something along the lines of an abuse support community.

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