Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What type of government protection do our kids need?

Certainly children deserve to be protected from danger and abuse. Yet it's impossible to protect children from every possible harm. When we enact laws that attempt to dictate the rules parents must follow to protect their kids we can accidentally cast too wide a net.

For example, Danielle and Alexander Meitiv are in trouble with Child Protective Services because they let their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter walk together without adults. They live in Maryland and Maryland has laws stating
"In Maryland, a child under the age of 8 years may not be left unattended at home, at school, or in a car. If a parent or guardian needs to leave a child who is younger than 8 years old, the parent or guardian must ensure that a reliable person, who is at least 13 years old will stay to protect the child. Failure to provide a reliable person to babysit the child is a misdemeanor, and the parent or guardian is subject to a fine up to $500 and up to 30 days in prison.

Both in and out of the home, parents and guardians must always give proper care and attention to children in their care. Children must not be left alone in situations where they may get hurt."

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv have been told by their lawyer that Child Protective Services is within their rights to take away the kids if they don’t cooperate. Child Protective Services have better ways to spend their time and money than on these parents who let their 6 and 10-year-olds walk alone. Parenting choices around situations like this rapidly escalate when law enforcement becomes involved.

We need a national discussion around how we should best legally protect children. We can’t protect children from every possible harm and having laws like Maryland’s may do more harm than good. When and how children are removed from their homes deserves the highest scrutiny. The trauma of being taken from their parents must be justified by the benefits to the children.

Once kids are removed from their home, they should be put in a better environment but that is far from assured. Our foster care system is broken, the way we reunite kids with their parents after being in foster care is broken, and our priorities in protecting kids is off.

I’d like to see a law saying it’s illegal to have an unsecured gun anywhere a child age 6 or under can access it. Now that's a law that could quickly save lives!

Let's talk about it.

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