So what were we told is "child abuse" in my work orientation meeting by rep from CPS?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I work at a day care center and we had our orientation this week. During the orientation, we had a guest speaker who works for child protective services. Actually, there were two of them, but one did the talking, the other did the nodding her head. I always knew that "child protective services" was a joke, but I didn't know how big of one until we were told about abuse...when to report something and when not to.

    I have a scenerio for you: Billy's mother cusses at him and tells him he's worthless constantly. She makes fun of him. She won't buy him any toys or even let him join in family activities. She tells him she hates him, that he is not her son, that somebody else must have had him and dropped her on his doorstep. You are a guest in her house. Can you turn her in for abuse after observing this behavior for, say, a month?

    The answer!!!! There is no such thing as "emotional abuse" to CPS. There is nothing they can do unless the child is physically endangered. So if we know a parent is constantly damaging his/her child the phone call. Just a waste of time that we can't get back. It is not against the law to verbally abuse your child as long as he is fed, goes to school, and his physical needs are taken care of. Taking a child to the doctor is "iffy." Basically, no child is protected unless he has visible bruises all over him. Am I the only one who thinks this is nuts?

    I had verification that this is true today because I called social services myself to see if there was anything that J. could do (Jumper's boyfriend) about his parent's hideous verbal abuse. In Wisconsin you can't leave home legally for any reason until you are eighteen. There is no emancipation in WI. Well, no, there is nothing he can do, even though they swear at him, tell him he's useless, pretty much delegate him to his room, take his own things that he bought, etc. etc. etc. Now the black eye COULD be physical abuse, but that all depends on how it happened. If the father was defending himself, it's not abuse, even though his boy is the only one with any marks on him.

    I did not realize how useless CPS is until I had that work orientation. I mean, let's go back to, say, a six year old. What in the world can a six year do to defend himself against such horrific verbal abuse? There is absolutely nothing anything can do to help the child either.

    I didn't realize that the bar was so high for abuse and, while I understand that there would be a big deal about what verbal abuse is, it really surprised me that they pretty much said they couldn't do anything. They could offer a parent help, but the parent can refuse it.

    I don't know about anyone else, but I still remember the verbal abuse I got as a child and I'm 58. It never goes away, although you learn to overcome it (sometimes).

    Things that make you go hmmmmmmmm...
  2. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    This is a point of contention with me too. I recall pleading many times in court as a minor to NOT be returned to my mothers care, and the list of verbal/emotional stuff is long. Things I wouldn't repeat here because they'd bring up things better left in my emotional past, they still run deep. I still have that dialogue run through my head at my age and have to squash her voice saying things to me. I was never "heard" in the court about my wishes except the time she gave severe burns to my brother. Otherwise, when she wanted me back, off to court she'd go and our child protection agency had zero impact trying to help me maintain my foster placement. Mind you thankfully for me she never once lasted more than a week before shipping me off to foster care again saying she was not capable of parenting me. Even that roller coaster she put me through wasn't considered abusive enough to prevent my return to her home. The only silver lining was it would be usually a year or more in between her fighting to get me back.

    I've seen so many people get away with such horrible treatment emotionally and verbally with their children. Some children would take a occassional slap much better than the emotional impact of what they go through day to day. And those parents face no issues with child protection agencies. It breaks my heart.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    It's not easy to get saved from physical abuse either. Apparently, it has to REALLY be obvious. And in my opinion verbal abuse often goes along with physical abuse, but young kids try to hide it...but that's a different topic. I'm just amazed that a parent can say anything she wants to a child, as long as he/she doesn't threaten to kill him, and can get away with the most sadistic forms of verbal torture...
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I can see both sides of this. But the bottom line is what can be proven in court, I think. Emotional/verbal abuse is subjective and hard to prove. When I called cps once re a phone message accidentally left running when a man thought he'd hung the phone up but left it on so I heard him yelling at his son and threatening him, the cps guy told me that "people need to understand that there is a huge difference between bad parenting and severe child abuse". Then, there are people like my bro who'd say anything to cause a stir to try to get custody of my son. I don't think it's so much that cps workers don't get the concept of emotional/verbal abuse, I think it's that in the big scheme of things- with false allegations, the ability to prove it, the ability to define it in a consistent way, and as compared to the many other cases they have- it's just not on the top of the priority list. And then, there's the fact that most of us parents have had "our moments" where we said something we shouldn't have and how on earth could a cps worker really know for sure if it was that kind of situation or an ongoing verbal bashing? They need substantial proof- not just hearsay.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I don't think a moment here and there of mistakes is child abuse. I do think that constant, constant cruelty is.
  6. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I do, too. Or in some cases, even a moment can be if it's over the top. I just can see why cps has a policy of not spending their resources on it (verbal abuse- not physical cruelty) without a whole lot of evidence.
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911

    SOooooo what yer sayin' is.......

    Then take Billy in the bathroom, slap him -----deny you did it and blame it on the Mother........


    Take HER in the bathroom, slap her.......claim you did it for the sake of the child.......and slap her again.

    Which one should I use?

    These would have been the questions I would have asked at this redundant meeting.
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I've served as a child advocate assigned to a particular child in Court. From the "outside" it often seems really simple. From the "inside" it is complex. The biggest hurdle I faced was most often "the child wanted to be returned to the familiar family". The biofamily would round up the wagons and present themselves as a caring unit with occasional inappropriate behaviors. It's a terribly complex issue to face and.......sadly, often don't really KNOW deep in your heart whether the foster system will be kinder and more nurturing than the dysfunctional family. Once again, even more sadly, the intervention and support programs are being phased out. It's a sorry situaton. DDD
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Why are they fazing it out???
  10. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Actually I could tell you more that would churn your stomach on what cps may chose to ignore......but I won't.

    Does it surprise me? No. I first started dealing with cps as a teen reporting my bro's 1st wife who felt feeding / changing / holding her infant was too much went straight down hill from there. I've had far too many dealings with them since then concerning many children both in and out of the family. They've done nothing to prove to me they're worth a grain of salt.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I never liked them either. Learned a lot about them when I did foster care. But I truly didn't know that things were this bad.
    When I did foster care, there was one little boy whose mother had broken every bone in his body. He recovered in a loving foster home. They wanted to adopt him. His mother got into rehab and was deemed rehabilitated. She got him back. A few months later, when she decided he was too much bother and gave him back, this couple wanted him again. Social services put him into a DIFFERENT foster home. Eventually, the new foster parents decided he was too difficult and the couple finally got to adopt him.
    We didn't last too long doing foster care because we didn't feel that the system worked for the kids at all. We waited until Sonic was adopted and then quit. That story I told was only one of many.
  12. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I come at it from a different perspective. I want CPS powerless. I want them to have to PROVE to a judge that a child is in danger of permanent harm or death before they can take the child. When I was a foster parent I read a book (I think it was called Wounded Innocents or something similar) where is compared the damage done to children taken into foster care when they were not in immediate danger (both the physical harm they suffered at the hands of less-than-good foster parents or other dangerous children in the home and the sheer trauma of being ripped from their families) and the study in this book showed that more children were being harmed by being pulled into care than would be harmed if CPS hadn't pulled any child into care. CPS was actualy INCREASING the number of abused children.

    Yes, consistent, extreme verbal abuse is very damaging to a child. If CPS starts pulling children for what people say, it is a slippery slope and everyone's definitions of "verbal abuse" and "obnoxious parenting" are going to be different.
  13. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    JJJ, you do make a valid point.

    Am I the only one who has noticed that cps seems to tend to remove children that in all honestly really don't need to be removed at a far higher percentage than those that do need to be removed? I've seen this often too. Which is why I don't think they have any real clue what they're doing or perhaps they really just get so jaded they don't care after a while.

    My nieces lived through horrid neglect and abuse but it wasn't until bro's 1st wife tried to murder them by burning down the apartment that they decided to sit up and take notice. This is with endless reports to them from pediatrician docs, family, my bro, neighbors, ect ect. Then when they did, because seriously they had no choice at that point........They have nerve enough to tell my bro who was living in Texas (kids were in Illinois), he had 48 hrs to come pick them up or he'd lose his parental rights too. Seriously? The man was unemployed up until right before this Mom had to loan him the money to fly back home. He had nothing to do with any of the abuse......and they still copped an attitude with him.

    I've reported some pretty horrific things over the years. Nothing. They 'might' do a check IF the police drag them into it. (talking 3 states here, not just one)

    Yet while husband was in the ER friday night.........a family was there across the room from us. CPS worker was trying her best to keep the conversation private but with only curtains between stretchers......and a mom who is NOT happy and is determined everyone is going to here what is going hear just about everything. Seems they brought a toddler in who was injured significantly.....not life threatening, not even enough to stay in hospital......when hospital staff asked what happened the Dad (who brought the injured child along with the sibs in) was honest and told them he'd dozed off accidentally and the toddler had injured himself. He woke immediately and rushed him to the ER. Dad felt horrid. ER staff called the police, who in turn called cps.

    Now granted I don't know these people. But those kids were clean, well dressed, obviously well fed, well behaved normal young children. Even cps worker admitted (mom brought it up) that parents had never been in trouble with the law, never ever had a report made to cps. Mom kept saying she didn't understand, her kids were well loved, well fed, clean, clothed, played with ect ect ect. And cps worker kept saying there were other "forms" of neglect. wth?

    Unless there was something going on that I didn't manage to hear in that loud conversation (by the way mom was being very polite, very articulate without being snarky), I got no indication those kids were being neglected. Should dad have fallen asleep? Well no. But it happens. Turns out Mom and dad are working alt shifts trying to hold on to their home and feed their kids and grabbing whatever overtime they can....taking turns watching the kids because they couldn't afford a sitter. It wasn't deliberate, it was an accident. I can't tell you how many times easy child has fallen asleep while studying when she was working full time and Darrin was playing in the livingroom. They could've easily just investigated without removing the kids. But no, decent family doing what they have to in order to survive.....and they lose their kids.

    I've seen similar where the family has both police records and a cps file that is a book walk out with their kids......with a "might" on the investigation part. Ridiculous.

    I'll get off my soap box because I literally could go on and on and on with this.

    I realize their jobs aren't easy and appearances can be deceiving but still.
  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh I could write a book too! I worked for social services as a caseworker in what used to be called AFDC which Im sure most of you know what that is...the welfare check. I saw many, many single moms and sometimes parental units who happened to not work at all. I remember vividly two cases that I reported to CPS and got absolutely nowhere with and I felt they really should have done something.

    The first one was a two parent family where one of the parents was supposedly mentally unable to work. I say supposedly because I never saw anything close to a diagnosis other than pure laziness and he was waiting on disability to approve him the entire time I was his caseworker. The mom stayed home with the kids because supposedly he couldnt pay attention well enough to the kids. Well I didnt think either of them did. They always came in together and the entire group of them were always in dirty, smelly clothes...even the kids. The kids never had brushed hair or clean clothes. They always had snotty, runny noses which they would constantly wipe on their sleeves. They were very small and thin. We had to get doctor reports at that time and they constantly came back reporting things like the kids had lice or they were malnourished or they were constantly in the office with colds. According to our records, they got our assistance to pay for their utilities as often as was allowed. Now, trust me, they got plenty of food stamps and they lived in Section 8 housing so they should have been able to afford their bills. CPS said there was nothing they could do. The kids went to school, there was food in the house and the power and water was on. Even though the house was dirty and the kids and parents were nasty, it was okay.

    Then there was another case. I had to have this one single mom who came into my office with her baby who was about a year old. We were doing her yearly review. The little one kept trying to jabber at me while we were doing the interview and I talked back to her. Cute little girl. I always kept some sort of candy in my office for little ones. I pulled out a sucker to give to her to keep her occupied and the mom ignored her completely the whole time. The mom was really jumpy. The longer we talked, the more jumpy she got. She was wiggling around in her seat and started not being able to answer my questions. Then she started getting really irritated with the baby. Hollering at her and things. I told her the baby was just fine and being a problem. I think that was the point when I gave her the sucker. Then the mother stood up and started pacing around my room looking out the window. We were only halfway through the interview and she suddenly said....I cant stand this...I have to go to the bathroom and do keep the baby, I will be right back and be calmer. I thought to myself...oh no, your gonna go do drugs! I told her no, we only have a little more to do and then you can leave because the bathrooms are on the first floor and I cant watch your baby for you. So she grabbed her kid and ran out of there never finishing the review. I told her I knew what she was up to too.

    I watched out the window to see what she was driving and she went out to her car and snorted a line of either cocaine or something in the car and she drove off with the baby just thrown in the back seat not even locked into her car seat. I called down to CPS with the tags and her name. They looked into it and there was nothing they could do because the girl lived with her parents and even though her parents told the CPS workers that they both worked and didnt help her very much with the baby except give them a roof over their heads, the CPS workers considered that enough!
  15. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    This is despicable. We were verbally abused growing up - but in seemingly innocuous ways, not overt, hard to describe. I look back now and, it is behind me, I know that my mom did the best (most of the time) with what she knew and could handle, but she was pretty mean at times. She called us names alot - and almost always it was just my sisters and me taking it. My brother was like the second coming of Christ to her, she worshipped him, as did so many mothers their sons in those days (I still don't get it).

    My easy child works at a daycare and she was telling me about several families who are verbally abusive to their kids right in front of the staff and she said it's because they know we can't call CPS on them without marks to match the words - iow, let's wait until the abuse escalates to physical...and in my experience verbal/emotional abuse can be worse than physical. Just sayin'.
  16. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I agree with you for the most part, but I believe that an investigation is warranted if there is even the slightest bit of suspicious behavior. Up here in CT, our children's services is appalling. They either ignore and close files on legitimate cases of abuse and then a month later, the child is dead OR they go in like gangbusters and break up homes for mere suspicion with little evidence of actual abuse. The lapse is in the investigation phase...the fact finding, the interviewing, the spot checks of the family, runing family background. Often, the bureaus do not have the funding to carry out the appropriate investigations and that is when children/families with abuse fall through the cracks.

    I also feel that each of us will have a different perspective based on our personal history and experiences. I've had both a GREAT experience and an awful experience. It was great when CPS allowed me to keep my children from having overnight visits with their dad as little girls because he left them home alone with loaded shotguns and a loft with no rail. Hmmm. Later my experience was not so nice when, after being on public assistance, they did a random home inspection without provocation and kept the file open for 3 months - without any evidence of wrongdoing. I later found out from another caseworker it was because they thought I was working under the table and wanted to get me for fraud. Sick.
  17. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    It has long been my position that parenting classes should be mandatory in schools. In fact I think it should be mandatory in elementary, middle school and high school with no exceptions (obviously based on the appropriate age group). Around here, I think, there is an elective that includes one of those crying baby dolls that go home overnight...but that's an elective.

    Research has proven that parenting patterns are absorbed by home environment. Obviously there are exceptions. GFGmom is overreactive and yells...nope, not how she grew up or interestingly not how she behaves when visiting our home. difficult child (the AS kid) took a child development class in high school and he learned alot. Once again it was an elective. He told me "I try to teach Mom" but it doesn't work.

    Back in the day, here I go again lol, the parochial school we attended actually had the nurse take the dirty students into a special office where they could bathe, brush their teeth etc. On rare occasion they would provide a change of clothes. As an elementary kid I wondered what the parents reaction was and feared the kid paid the consequences. But at least they tried to supplement poor parenting with some opportunity.

    Mandatory eduation in child rearing might turn the corner for at least some of the kids. It might help them recognize problems and in a few cases supplement their parents efforts. Ignorance and fear leads to shaken baby syndrome, neglect and often abuse. I'd like to see the cycle stopped or at least slowed down. It's beyond sad. DDD
  18. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    This is definitely a conversation where our personal experiences have a huge impact. Having been the victim of several malicious "reports" to CPS, all of which were unfounded, I have experienced first hand the trauma it causes an innocent family just to go through an "investigation". CPS workers are not held to the same standard as other govt employees (eg. the police) and can make devestating decisions just cause they 'feel like it'.
  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I wonder how much education the investigators have. Some I've met were so incredibly young. I have heard, and I may be wrong, that there is like a ten month course for these investigators. If so, that's in my opinion inadequate.

    I have seen CPS both ways too. I've seen them pull kids who shouldn't be pulled and vice versa. What a mess. Our kids really have no protection.
  20. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    CPS needs parenting classes, preferably with special needs kids (and/or difficult children, take your pick).

    The one that showed up at our door when bio called saying we'd planted 3 loaded guns in a suicidal teenager's bedroom refused to listen to husband - we have ONE, it was in PIECES, and hardly loaded - just told him "why don't you give her custody and walk away like a good father." Clearly this guy had no children of his own.

    The one who, when J complained to a teacher that Mommy punched him in the head, came to our house and started in on ME, did back off when J said, frightened, "WRONG MOMMY!"... But then she called bio, asked her, bio denied, case closed. No investigation.

    The one who came out to listen to O, when she wanted to tell them about being beaten... And did nothing. There were no bruises, of course - it had happened months before.

    The one who threatened husband with jail if he ever tried to file a report again with pictures of the kids' bruises.

    And then there was the one who has helped us with O.

    Fact is, most of them are idealistic to begin with, and haven't a CLUE how the real world works. Then they get disillusioned with the system and leave, and in come a new crop of naifs.