Posts Tagged ‘child protection’

Indian Child Welfare Act symposium at Cato Unbound

I’m one of four participants in a symposium at Cato Unbound this month on the Indian Child Welfare Act. Timothy Sandefur (Goldwater Institute) writes the principal paper to which I respond; other responders include Profs. Matthew L. M. Fletcher (Michigan State) and Kristen Carpenter (Colorado). Earlier coverage of the Indian Child Welfare Act here. Excerpt from my contribution:

Someday we might want to design a legal regime that minimizes state intrusion into families, limits the discretion of faraway bureaucrats, and empowers parents by clarifying their rights. But ICWA sure isn’t it. It’s a power play that’s meant to serve the interests of one governmental actor on the scene, the tribe. It regards children and parents as tribal resources to be conscripted, and it designates a vastly overbroad group of children to grab as “Indian children,” the better to maximize resource intake.

Police chief: 16 is the right age to let kids outside by themselves

This is quite insane [Lenore Skenazy]:

The New Albany, OH, chief of police is advising parents not to let their kids go outside on their own until they are 16.

According to this piece on News10:

New Albany’s police chief wants parents to understand that kids younger than 16 simply cannot defend themselves against an attacker.

Chief Greg Jones says 16 is the appropriate age to allow children to be outside by themselves. “I think that’s the threshold where you see children getting a little bit more freedom,” he says.

Not a lot of freedom, mind you. Just a “little bit.”

As readers have pointed out on social media, the timing of the chief’s recommendation suggests that teens will be able to make the transition directly to driver’s license status without having to do something truly scary in the mean time like walking down the block by themselves.

New Albany is a growing suburb of Columbus, the capital of Ohio, with a low crime rate. Its Wikipedia page is here.

Scotland’s Named Person controversy heats up

We’ve warned for a while about the scheme in Scotland to appoint a state functionary, a so-called Named Person, to look after the interests of every child — not just every child in state care or for whom there are indicia of dangerous neglect or abuse, but every child, period. Now the results are coming in from early rollout of the scheme in some parts of the country. [The Scotsman]

[The professor’s] shock was compounded by the fact that work on this dossier, known as a Family Record, had started without his knowledge. He had only discovered its existence by accident long after the details of his home life had begun to be recorded. Furthermore, it was only after an eight-month battle with his local health board that he managed to obtain a redacted version of the document, which began to be compiled after an acrimonious break-up with his wife which led to a protracted legal row over access to their two children.

Initially pushed through with little opposition, the plan is now causing political grief for the ruling Scottish Nationalist Party of Nicola Sturgeon. Ruth Davidson, leader of the third-place Scottish Conservative Party, has called for rethinking the scheme, and now Scottish Labour Party leader Kezia Dugdale has suggested a halt to its implementation, while still favoring it in principle. The scheme is set to become effective for Scotland as a whole on August 1.

Tragic cases like that of 11-week-old Caleb Ness, the Edinburgh baby killed by his father despite the involvement of social work and health staff, have convinced the Scottish Government that action has to be taken. Indeed, the Named Person approach has the support of many organisations within civic Scotland, including children’s charities and teaching unions, who believe it will help struggling families and prevent tragedies…. In general, health visitors will act as Named Persons for pre-school children, with head teachers taking up the mantle as they get older.

Where not redacted, the 60-page file on the professor’s family had included observations on his children appearing to have diaper rash and runny noses not cleaned for a while, and observed the father “did not appear to take advice on board fully” regarding the thumb-sucking habit of his younger son:

“I find it sinister. I find it very creepy. I find it chilling,” he said. “They just hoover up all of this hearsay and then collate it into huge documents and on to databases. Under the new legislation all sorts of people have access to these databases. All they need is four or five reasons for intervention and they can hoover up information from any database and there is no control over whether this is true or not.”

[cross-posted at Cato at Liberty]

Schools and childhood roundup

  • “Someone could have put their hand in the window and unlocked the door and taken the kids” [Lenore Skenazy/Free Range Kids; related stories here and here; similar, Illinois Policy]
  • Police warn that plan in Scotland to provide state guardian for every child could backfire in abuse investigations [Telegraph, more on “named person” scheme]
  • Also from Scotland: Law Society says proposed ban on liquor promotion is so broad it might snag parent wearing rugby-sponsor jacket at school pickup [Express]
  • Judge rejects Mississippi school finance suit [Andrew Ujifusa, State Education Watch, background]
  • Widespread criticism of Michigan judge for sending kids to juvenile detention for not wanting to have lunch with their father [Radley Balko]
  • “Two Parents Weren’t Sure How Their Little Girl Fractured Her Leg, So CPS Took the Kids” [Lenore Skenazy, more, yet more on “medical kidnapping”]
  • Caleb Brown and Andrew Grossman discuss educator-dues case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association [Cato Daily Podcast, earlier on case, its SCOTUSBlog page]

Schools roundup

  • Following student complaints, Northwestern Prof. Laura Kipnis investigated by her university over an essay she wrote on campus sexual politics [Jonathan Adler and more, Chronicle of Higher Ed (Kipnis cleared amid nationwide furor), Glenn Reynolds] Flashback: How NPR, the Center for Public Integrity, and federal officials fueled the campus sex assault panic [Christina Hoff Sommers, The Daily Beast, January] Harvard lawprof Janet Halley, who battles for rights of Title IX accused, is anything but conservative [Harvard Crimson] “The pretense of ‘neutrality’ … has its roots in privilege.” Popehat’s wicked satire of academia looks so real;
  • Throwing Skittles on a school bus = “interference with an educational facility” [Louisiana, Lowering the Bar]
  • To reduce stigma, or so it’s said, Maryland will serve free school breakfast and summer meals to more children whether they’re poor or not. Why cook for your kids when the state will do it? [my Free State Notes post]
  • Will high school football still be around in 2035? “Iowa Jury Awards Injured Ex-High School Football Player $1M” [Insurance Journal]
  • “Maryland’s ‘free range’ parents cleared of neglect in one case” [Washington Post, earlier]
  • St. Paul, MN schools in recent years embraced latest progressive nostrums on discipline, mainstreaming, cultural difference. Results have not been happy [Susan Du, City Pages]
  • “Two-Thirds of Risk Managers Say Frats Are Major Liability” [Inside Higher Ed] California trend spreads as Connecticut Senate passes affirmative consent bill for college disciplinary policies [West Hartford News/CT News Junkie]

Montgomery County authorities impound kids for walking on street, cont’d

I’ve now expanded Monday’s post into a longer Cato post. Among the new material, it links Petula Dvorak’s excellent WaPo column (“Our rapid march toward police-state parenting has got to end”) in which, to show how far we have moved, she quotes a checklist from a 1979 book on knowing whether your six-year-old is ready for first grade: “Can he travel alone in the neighborhood (four to eight blocks) to store, school, playground, or to a friend’s home?”

Megan McArdle notes “the kind of range of movement that those of us over 30 recall as a normal part of childhood” and names some possibilities of what social forces might have brought about such an extreme shift in attitudes, from cable news (magnifying the very-rare-in-fact peril of stranger abductions) to the lack of daytime “eyes on the street” to the ubiquity of mobile phones and report-possible-abuse lines (“It would be surprising if we lowered the price of being an officious busybody and didn’t get a lot more of it.”)

The Meitiv family has now issued a statement about the episode; they have a pro bono lawyer from Wiley Rein. The police account is here (“the victim children”). More from Lenore Skenazy:

Aren’t prisoners allowed one phone call, or is that just on TV? Because the Meitiv kids were not allowed to contact their parents in the six hours they were held by the authorities.

This is probably as good a place as any to share my personal experience: by around age 9 or 10 in the early 1960s I had the run of downtown Detroit and wandered around by myself to all sorts of attractions there, returning to my mother’s place of work at the end of the business day. That was considered a little precocious and my family was proud of me on that account. Once with some extra money in my pocket I even went into a white-tablecloth Italian restaurant by myself and ordered, ate, and paid for a meal with tip, a story told for years afterward.

P.S.: “This is kind of insane — in Illinois it’s illegal to leave a 13-year-old home alone” [Christopher Ingraham, but see comments below (not illegal in Illinois as such, only potentially so depending on a range of factors)]

U.K.: parents “will be reported …for neglect if they allow children to play over-18 computer games”

A public authority governing 16 schools in Cheshire, England, has sent a letter to parents warning them that they must not allow their children to play with adult-themed videogames such as Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. “If your child is allowed to have inappropriate access to any game, or associated product, that is designated 18+ we are advised to contact the police and children’s social care as this is deemed neglectful.” [ITV via Lenore Skenazy]

Unanimous California high court overturns “Jessica’s Law” residence restrictions

In 2006 California votes approved the Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act (a.k.a. Jessica’s Law) which, writes Jacob Sullum, “prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park, without regard to the nature of the crimes they committed or the threat they currently pose.” Persons are added to the registry over offenses — indecent exposure after being caught urinating at 2 a.m. outside a bar, for example — that may have nothing to do with children, force, or even sexual conduct as such. Under the sweeping terms of the California law, persons on the register were prohibited from occupying an estimated 97 percent of the apartment-zoned land in San Diego County. Sullum: “In 2007 Georgia’s residence restrictions, which mandated the relocation of sex offenders dying in nursing homes and forced repeated moves as formerly legal homes became illegal, were unanimously overturned by the state Supreme Court, which observed that ‘there is no place in Georgia where a registered sex offender can live without being continually at risk of being ejected.’

Meanwhile, in Carson, Calif., the city council has declined to amend its strictest-in-the-state law, which “prevent[s] them from going within 300 feet of day-care centers, libraries, swimming pools, and any establishment with a children’s playground or school bus stop.” [Daily Breeze]

Peter Bonilla is reminded of why “laws named after dead kids are bad for freedom,” a theme we have pursued here and here, among other places in our names of laws tag.

“When letting your kids out of your sight becomes a crime”

Danielle Meitiv, who with her husband has come under Child Protective Services scrutiny for letting their kids walk home from a local park, has some thoughts on the still-in-progress episode in the Washington Post [earlier]. I have often wondered why there were not more stirrings toward a legal defense organization for parents facing overreaching CPS actions, and a group called National Association of Parents apparently is hoping to fill that gap (its Facebook presence).

P.S. Well, this is neat: at the New Yorker “Talk of the Town,” Lizzie Widdicombe profiles Lenore Skenazy.

Letting kids, 10 and 6, walk home from the park

The Meitiv family of Silver Spring, Maryland is now under Child Protective Services scrutiny for permitting their children to walk the neighborhood alone a little too freely. Lenore Skenazy of Free-Range Kids has been on the story for a while, and now the Washington Post and columnist Petula Dvorak are covering it too (related). More: Beth Greenfield, Yahoo Parenting (cross-posted from Free State Notes).

P.S. Google Street View will let you simulate the experience of walking south a mile down Georgia Avenue from Woodside Park through and past downtown Silver Spring. And welcome listeners from “Frederick’s Forum” on WFMD with host Dave Schmidt, where I’ll be calling in to discuss the case this morning.