Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kicking and Screaming

In an earlier blog post we covered a story about a little boy who was kidnapped by his father with the help of police. (See Police/Judge Help Father Kidnap Boy) When people watch the video they are disturbed to see the police completely disregard the boy's pleas for help. It seems shocking to some that authorities would act so harshly and blatantly disregard a child's wishes.

Authorities certainly dropped the ball in many ways, not the least of which is that they altogether disregarded an allegation of abuse the boy made at the time. But I have yet to hear anyone point out a much more plausible reason for the seemingly callous behavior on the part of authorities: this is a normal reaction by the child anytime they assist in custody disputes or child welfare situations.

On TV, when child protective services or police officers intervene to remove a child, it's always shown with hugs and smiles towards the "hero’s" who are rescuing them from abuse. In real life, however, when children are "rescued," even from parents who are legitimately abusive, it's hardly a happy event. Children usually kick, scream, cry, bite, go mute, and otherwise plead not to be taken. It's an extremely traumatic experience. A child's home and their caretakers, no matter how abusive and imperfect those caretakers may be, are the most important thing you can take from a child. Yet take them away, kicking and screaming, we often do.

As I watch this video, I can't help but notice how much it resembles what CPS does on a daily basis. And I can't help but wonder if the public would still support such measures as a valid response to abuse if they could see the aftermath of what removal is really like. Given this knowledge, it's hardly surprising that the officers would brush off a child's pleas and cries for help. After all, this is just part of the job.

The unfortunate message in all of this is that the system IS NOT set up around the child's best interests, no matter how much people try to tell you otherwise. If it were, police would be helping the child pleading for assistance, not be asked to assist in his torment. If police weren't so often asked to (legally) kidnap crying children, all because some judge or social worker somewhere out there thinks they know what's best, this situation wouldn't have taken place.

A larger problem is that children are often taken, kicking and screaming, away from one parent and awarded to a parent they despise, because a judge, going on limited information of the family, got it wrong. Perhaps dad was more loving and attentive but he had a drug conviction, so the other parent received custody. Too often custody decisions rest on procedures that don't serve the child's welfare at all. Children are also taken, kicking and screaming, away from their abusive or neglectful family (which they happen to love nonetheless). Children are also taken, kicking and screaming, away from families who haven’t abused their children at all. Anywhere from a third to more than half of all removals come in cases where an allegation can't be substantiated. All in all, in most cases where authorities intervene, it very often means forcing a child against their will. Given the current situation, perhaps this is what we should take a look at.

In light of this recent tragedy, there will of course be self-righteous finger pointing and a call to correct the things that led to these egregious errors. The result of this action is destined to be shallow and meaningless. The only real solution will come when we have a system that truly does put the child's interests first. One that listens to them. When children truly are abused in the home, they want the abuse to stop, but rarely (if ever) do they want to be taken away from everyone and everything they know and love. A child's foremost desire in this world is for both parents to be involved in their life. When parents can't get their act together to make that happen, they want to spend their daily lives with the parent to whom their attachment is the strongest. This mayor may not be the same parent a judge deems the fittest according to the statutes-or hiss personal opinion. Of course, it would be nice if all parents merely grew up and realized that their conflict with each other will destroy their child. It would be nice if all parents were perfect and never abused or neglected their children. Yet the system frequently creates added conflict all its own, doing children serious harm because it's set up around rigid procedures and an "I know what's best" attitude, rather than people who help the child's wishes and desires come true. It would also be nice if we had a system that spent a lot more time listening to the kids and less time always pretending it knows what is best for them. While we can't change human nature, this we can change.

The only real solution will come when we have a system that does put children’s' desires first and all of that adult nonsense second, so that having to force an irate, screaming child somewhere with someone that they don't want to go with WILL strike authority figures as unusual.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Lucky Little Girl, A Rare Happy Ending

What was supposed to be a happy time of the year almost had a tragic ending for one Arizona family. On Christmas afternoon, 5 year old Natalie Rose Flores was playing with her two sisters (ages 7 & 9) outside their home at the Saddleback Mountain Apartments. According to the girls, that's when a man approached them with a camera taking pictures. After getting close to the girls, he reportedly pulled the 7 year olds pants down to take a picture. When she fought back, he then snatched 5 year old Natalie and pulled her into his truck.

At this point, the girls did the proper thing (though they missed an earlier opportunity to escape, but more on that in future posts) and ran for help. One of the girls knocked on the door of a neighbor, screaming, "You gotta help me, somebody has taken my sister!" Meanwhile, the man was speeding off with Natalie inside. In his haste, he hit a parked car. A witness who saw the crash got his license plate number and described the man with a frightened child inside. Of course, at the time the witness had no idea what had just happened.

Police responded and put out an Amber Alert a short time later. Police and everyone in Arizona who had access to the alert were told to be on the lookout for a small child with red shoulder legnth hair and freckles. (By the way, you can sign up to receive wireless Amber Alerts in your area at Later that evening after dark, an alert police officer spotted the brown ford Ranger the suspect was reported to have been driving. He tried to make a stop, and a chase ensued. The suspect then crashed and tried to flee on foot. After assaulting an officer, he was eventually subdued.

Now for the happy news: Natalie was found inside the truck, alive and as well as could be expected given the circumstances. It is a rare event when such things end so well. When someone alerted me to the situation as it was unfolding, the first thing I asked was how old the child was. The second thing I said is that she's probably dead already. I'm thrilled to be proven wrong.

Perhaps the ghosts of Christmas past came togeather to foil the plan of anyone so callous as to kidnap a child on Christmas. Perhaps it's just a lucky chain of events, or the kidnappers own bungling saved the day. Whatever the case, we can all be thankful it came to the happiest conclusion possible. I only wish all such cases ended so well.

You can help protect your child by learning about abductions from our website.

Monday, December 21, 2009

10 Reasons to Get Your Child A Lump of Coal This Christmas

10 Reasons to Get Your Child A Lump of Coal This Christmas

#10: with rising energy prices, it may be worth its weight in gold someday

#9: Just to see the look on their face...priceless

#8: It can be crushed into a diamond...if they work hard enough. By that time, they'll have forgotten you got them a lump of coal for Christmas

#7: It can double as sidewalk chalk...which the police can then use to trace you, after your child kills you, because you got them a lump of coal for Christmas

#6: Because somebody's child has to grow up to be a serial killer

#5: They'll be able to say that nobody else at school got what they got for Christmas

#4: Just tell them its ninja face paint and can make them invisible

#3: It may be less toxic than toys from China

#2: If the job situation keeps going the way it is, they'll have to learn cat-burglary sooner or later. So have them use it to cover all exposed skin and have them see what gifts they can find in the neighbor's yard.. Consider it career training.

#1: C'mon, do you really need reasons from us? You live with the brat.

For Child Safety Information check out

Friday, December 18, 2009

Judge/Police Help Father to Kidnap Child

Child abductions by parents are not unusual. In fact, around two thousand children are kidnapped by non custodial parents in the US each and every day. But few are able to recruit and entire state department to help them.

That is exactly what happened in Texas, when a father who had his parental rights revoked, recruited Texas authorities to assist kidnapping his son. He went before a Texas judge with a fake custody order from Mexico. Since the order was in Spanish, the judge couldn't even read what it said. Never the less, he issued an order awarding custody to the father. The father then took that order to police, to stop the school bus. Jean Paul (the boy) was riding on. What followed is heartbreaking to watch.

Police then ordered the boy off the bus, despite pleas from Jean Paul. He repeatedly tells officers that he is not supposed to go with his father, that his mother has custody, and that he doesn't want his dad to take him. On more than one occasion he screams out for someone, anyone, to help him. When asked why he doesn't want to go with his dad, he tells an officer that his father hits him. Despite this, the boy is dragged off the bus and handed over to his father. The entire incident is caught on the school bus camera. The two disappeared and haven't been seen since, and are now fugitives on the run. Making matters all that more tragic, this is the second time the father had kidnapped the boy.

Amongst the next few posts, we are going to discuss a few aspects of this situation in more detail. In the meantime, you can learn more at