Monday, 2 March 2009

Dob thy neighbour?

This morning's Dom Post reports that CYF are taking growing numbers of newborn babies from their mothers, through fear for the babies' safety. High profile child abuse cases are leading greater numbers of the public to raise the alarm about kids they think are at risk of mistreatment.

When this happens, I feel desperately sad for everyone involved. The safety of children has to be paramount; but I can't imagine there are many mothers who don't feel distressed by having their babies taken from them. I remember only too well the first few weeks of my first child's life - the stress, sleeplessness, and feeling that I was on the verge of losing my mind - and feel sympathy for other mums who aren't coping. If you don't have good support during that time, it can be terribly hard.

Some years ago, I went to a lecture about the treatment of Maori families by the state. Through much of last century, Maori children were removed from their homes and placed in state care at a vastly greater rate than kids of other ethnicities. Underlying this policy was the widespread racist assumption that Maori simply can't be trusted to raise children properly. Sometimes, the state gets things horribly, horribly wrong. The deaths of children in CYFS care suggests this problem hasn't gone away.

What to do, then? The state may be an imperfect beast, but when it comes to the welfare of children, I think we need to err on the side of caution. I don't like to think of myself as someone who hides suspiciously behind her curtains, making judgements about those 'other' people out there and their terrible parenting. Still, if I thought a child near me was at risk of being harmed, I don't think I'd hesitate to pick up the phone and dob in my neighbour.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, but does erring on the side of caution mean distrusting the government with their proven record of screwing up and the known defects of institutionalised care; or distrusting mother who don't seem to be coping? Presumably doing both isn't an option (with pets we can, but people are different).

I wonder if it would be more effective[1] to have intensive assistance programs designed to help mothers cope?

Moz
[1] given the govt we have, "effective" probably means "cheaper" in this case, or perhaps "less likely to affront the tabloids".

reddeath26 said...

Agreed that this can potentiall be quite a questionable practice. The first priority should absolutely be to see if there are ways in which the State and/or community can provide help for them. I do not doubt that a great number of parents would find it difficult to cope.

As for the Maori issue you identified, this has sadly been a highly common occurance around the world. It is extremely common for people from small scale cultures and/or the 4th world to be exploited a lot.

Anna said...

Agreed - the state taking a baby should surely be the last resort. I don't know much about other resources that are available, mind you - does anyone? Moz, I share your concern about cost effectiveness being the determinant of the care kids get. That was a key criticism of family group conferencing, although I couldn't say whether it was a fair criticism in that case.

And you're right, reddeath, about this being a sad story repeated around the world. The Stolen Generation is another example close to home. :-(

Jim Bailey - JimBWarrior - HandsOnEqualParent said...

NZ Govt aiding and abetting the destruction of our **Whole Natural Biological FAMILIES** continues wholesale under National

MP - NZ - the Hon. Paula Bennett - National - Waitakere - Minister for MSD

Minister Bennett,

Time to listen to your VOTERS

NZ Govt aiding and abetting the destruction of our **Whole Natural Biological FAMILIES** continues wholesale under National.

According to;

• http://www.cyfstalk.org

• http://ration-shed.blogspot.com

• http://www.panic.org.nz

• http://rationshed2.blogspot.com

• http://watchingcyfs.wordpress.com

• http://dad4justice.blogspot.com/2009/01/357-children-die-after-cyfs-notified.html

• http://www.petitiononline.com/cyfsnz/petition.html

• http://tvnz.co.nz/content/31107

• http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2007/01/a_cyfs_story.html

• http://groups.yahoo.com/group/watchingcyfs

• Many, many more have spoken against MSD – CYFS – WINZ etc

Has the new Minister for MSD got what it will take to fire Peter Hughs and get rid of the other HELENGrad appointees?

Onward – Ration Shed – Jim

At this time our main focus is to Build the **Equal Parenting **Petition to Strengthen **Equal Parenting** Orgs World-Wide and to Build new ones where there are none. Please consider hosting the petition on your websites and of course signing it.
Go - http://petitionthem .com/default. asp?sect= detail&pet=4275
As we move toward Easter – Do something extra for lent – Be of mind that 2000+ years ago Jesus was in the desert at this time being tempted by the Devil himself which lasted 40 days – Yet he chose to walk in obedience all the way to the cross for you and me – WOW what a saviour!!!

`````````````````````````````

GO - http://www.stuff.co.nz/4864585a11.html

More new babies taken from mothers

Anna said...

Jim - that was, well, less than coherent. No offence, but it's rants like that the make men's movements seem incomprehensible and kind of scary.

Jim Bailey - JimBWarrior - HandsOnEqualParent said...

Anna,

If I changed the presentation of the message would you and yours HEAR?

I don't think so

Excusses for persisting with the statis Q0 have allowed well in access of 300,000 NZKids to be living without one Parent, 2 of their 4 Grand Parents and many in CYFs Foster Care or jails.

These Children eventually are the majority in various prisons

But blame the messengers and plod on damaging the **Whole Natural Biological FAMILY** as you go

Onward - Jim

Anna said...

I don't regard biological families as the only worthwhile ones. I'm more concerned that kids live in safe, happy and loving homes than with blood relatives. I don't see that denigrating the efforts of solo parents helps anyone. I'd much rather give my support to people parenting in challenging conditions.

Julie said...

Jim I think you're also being rather high-handed about defining what counts as a family and what doesn't. In my own life my sister is in fact my half-sister, but my father (my biological father, her adoptive father) was very much a parent to both of us, and loved both of us as his daughters, regardless of one having his genetic material and one not.

Families are more about the bonds of love and experience between people than any genetic relationship, imho.

Jim Bailey - JimBWarrior - HandsOnEqualParent said...

Kids are all too often used by a Parent, usually Mum

1 - for them to have purpose

2 - for them to secure income

3 - for them to have a life

Many seemingly honourable excuses are made to convince any challengers and the Govt usually supports these deviants under current law and destroys FAMILY.

I am not suggesting that there are not genuine single Mums and Dads, Grand Parents, Step Mums and Dads, Foster Parents doing very good jobs, most of my close friends are just those.

In fact most of those that I have helped thru Court and various other so called FAMILY institutions fit in these categories.

When **Equal Parenting** is Enshrined into World-Wide FAMILY Law and Social Policy our Children will have a better chance of these deviants being sifted from their lives.

Onward - Jim

Anna said...

OK Jim, that's enough. Perhaps you genuinely can't see the connection between denigrating women and marriages not lasting. Whatever the case, THM is not a place to call other people's family arrangements 'deviant'. I'll have to ask you to do God's work elsewhere.

Julie said...

Here's Denis Welch's take on the article (big thanks to Giovanni for tipping me off about this):
So it’s good to see the
Dominion Post today telling us that ‘Dozens of
newborns are being taken from their mothers every
year because of fears for their safety,’ and that such
custody orders have doubled in the past five years.
That’s awful news in one sense but positive in another:
thanks to better awareness among health and social
workers, potentially abusive situations are being
anticipated before they erupt and lead to the kind of
headlines with which we’re all too sadly familiar.

Anna said...

Very good point from Denis W - CYF are on the proverbial hiding to nothing. When they intervene, they're family wreckers. When they fail to intevene, they've aided the abuse or deaths of children. Leaving aside the issue of when the state should or shouldn't intervene, it's good to acknowledge the work of CYF social workers (particularly in the light of the pay equity issue). It's not coincidence CYF have recruitment and retention problems - this is gruelling, often thankless work.