August 25, 2005

Parents in Action

As promised, here is my attempt at analyzing and providing critical thought on Rolando Bini's "organization.

Over time, there have been a series of writings on my blog and on Toad's regarding the Child Protective Services. Roughly a week ago, Rolando Bini, ostensibly representing a group called Parents in Action, surfaced and began on a fairly... special diatribe about the illegitimacy of Child Protective Services. While that discussion seems more or less finished where it was begun, I proceeded to visit Parents in Action's page, and was quite shocked with what I found.

I would like to start out by trying ascertain the nature of the group. Here's what I found:

"We consider Parents to be the Natural Protectors of their Children and as such to have a God-given right to raise them without government intervention."

Now, capitalization issues (of which there will be many) aside, it is easy to note that this appears to be a theistically-based group, though it's hard to tell much more than that they subscribe to a theology of the family being a divinely-appointed group, designed to be the best way to raise children. While this is well and good, this militant attitude towards the government is somewhat disturbing. Before we get to that, let me showcase what I feel are the organization's other two solid points:


"We consider Fathers as equal partners and very important for the healthy development of their Children, and as such we encourage their full participation in the lives of them, not only as protectors and providers, but also by providing emotional nourishment. Fathers, having the duty of being role models for their Children, must rise to fulfill that mission by being positive role models, and by being there for their Children. We aim to increase awareness among fathers of their full responsability in the well being of their Children, and the community to help them regain their natural positive place in society."


"We consider Grandparents as valuable resources and support for their Children and Grandchildren..."

In short, I think it's quite a good sentiment that fatherly involvement in the family and in the lives of his children is key and that the elderly are an invaluable resource to the community and to the family which should be utilized and not minimized.

That aside, I see some deep-seated problems with Parents in Action's rhetoric. Firstly, their assertion that the Child Protective Services is an evil entity with unchecked and universal power is patently false. They assert:

"Any system that has no checks and balances and is accountable to no one, will become abusive. The Child Welfare System is by design such an entity. We need to be ever vigilant in Preserving the Family, since its integrity is essential for the development of a Healthy Society. As such, we aim to bring public awareness to the abuse of power by Children Protective Services, the Family Court System, and Foster Care providers and eventually make them accountable."

While it is obvious that unchecked power is a serious problem, CPS and Foster Care are HEAVILY regulated under US Federal Law and are overseen by the Judicial Branch, in addition to frequent interaction with law enforcement at various levels. To say that there are foster parents and case-workers that are under-supervised would be an accurate statement, but to say that the entire system is an uncontrolled power trip would appear to be an accusation that is grossly out of line without some sort of factual backup. To summarize, I agree that there needs to be a comprehensive review system in place, but I find it a malicious and gross mischaracterization that the existing system lacks any sort of safeguards to prevent wanton and flagrant abuse of power.

Having done a cursory summary of the "stronger" points of Parents in Action, as well as expressing some concern with the tone of their position, I think it's fairly safe to say that this is a group that attempts to take on some sort of Theistic tack, though I really can't say much more. As I look at addressing the lesser points that the group takes on, I keep coming back to the issue of authority. In short, where do they derive their mandate from? The only answers I can find are these, in addition to the earlier appeal to parents having a "God-given right to raise [their children] without government intervention" :

"We consider Family Preservation vital for our very survival, being the biological Family Unit, the Natural cell of Human Society; and coerced/forced Foster Care and Special Ed in Public Schools the main Social Cancer producers that feeds the prison, homeless and mentally ill population. As such we have a duty to promote Social Healing initiatives that contribute to the Common Good."

To the extent that it is coherent, this argument appears to be that the most natural order is the highest good, and the family is the most natural social unity, there for it is privileged to the highest degree of Common Good. Organized education and larger societal structures, being less natural, have a lesser degree of Common Good, and are thus trumped by the family. This line of argument is fraught with difficulty, because it seems to be an arbitrary argument that biological relationships are inherantly superior to non-biological relationships. But this, in essence, argues that there is no societal order larger than an extended family. This lack of provision for a larger governmental structure that cannot be disregarded at will seems to be fine and good for the establishment of small villages of close relations but breaks down in modern society. With large groups of non-related people, there must be some sort of authoritative government, even in some of the most extreme libertarian understandings, short of the anarchist way of thinking, which also seems to run counter to the ideals of Parents in Action.

As I have argued earlier, even within the traditionally libertarian understanding of government, it is held that police protection from other citizens who would attempt to break laws is acceptable. Further, because I doubt that anyone would argue that child abuse shouldn't be illegal, it falls to the government as a representative of all good citizens to protect these children from crimes perpetuated against them by criminals, EVEN IF THOSE CRIMINALS ARE THEIR PARENTS.

Now, the basis of the argumentation for Parents in Action aside, there are several points that the organization makes that have been bothering me which I would like to address:

"We consider that the majority of cases of parents accused of abuse or neglect are rather cases of poverty and that the government should use those resources to Preserve Families rather than dissolve them. The act of having Children taken away from the people whom they trust and love the most, has a devastating effect not only on those Children, but also in the psychological and financial well being of the whole Family, further sinking them into poverty and creating chaos in their lives and those of future generations."

I have been attempting to find some sort of political classification which simultaneously invites government subsidy of private families and yet demands government non-intervention. While this could be asserted to be a statement to the effect of "if the government must intervene, at least give aid rather than taking children", it would seem that this statement tacitly acknowledges that where the government intervenes, there may be legitimate problems, albeit problems resulting from poverty. So, there is a situation where parents are irresponsibly having children that they lack means to care for, and Parents in Action's solution is for the government to provide aid rather than removing children from parents who are at least negligent if not worse? With adoption as a viable option, parents who keep children they cannot afford to provide for are dangerous to society. Even if these parents are only unwilling to part with their children out of sentimentality, the fact remains that they would damn their children to a miserable existance out of a selfish indulgence rather than allowing their children to be provided for, and this is precisely why they should not be allowed to keep their children.


We aim to help Families dealing with internal conflicts such as: Domestic Violence, Teen-age rebellion, substance abuse, emotional crisis, separation, Divorce, etc. to deal with them in a constructive, conflict-resolution oriented form, away from punitive measures that further damage the Family. Our aim being to Heal not to dissolve the Family."

Good intentions notwithstanding, domestic violence and substance abuse are criminal offenses. While I might be persuaded with the argument that substance abuse can be a self-injurious crime without consequences to others, domestic violence is criminal activity that should not and cannot be exempt from punitive measures. Simply put, if Parents in Action is advocating protecting violently abusive parents/spouses from legal action, I can find little understanding for their position. I would invite someone from the organization to clarify this point for me, because I cannot understand why anyone who commits assault and battery on a member of his/her own would be shielded by an organization that proposes to help families.

Lastly, I cannot quote the entire page, where Parents in Action asserts that CPS engages in child slavery, but here is an excerpt:

"Children are Kidnaped (the criminal enterprise uses the feel-good euphemism "remove") under any imaginable excuse, Kept with Legal Trickery and eventually Sold. The Kidnapers are the so-called CPS (Children Protective Services) Division of ACS; the Hostage Keepers are the Foster Care agencies; and the ones who Sell them, as Slaves are and were Sold, are the Adoption Agencies. All of them Profit from this Scheme."

Now, up until this point, I have been willing to cede that I might suffer from an outsider's perspective and that this website might be a somewhat-misleading representation of a good-hearted organization. This assertion that the New York City Child Protective Services is engaged in a large-scale slave industry seems to force the abandonment of that belief. In light of such extreme positioning, it seems to be unlikely that this is an organization headed by rational individuals, nor is it one with any sort of capability to work within a system that needs help. Rather, this is waht we call an extremist group, thankfully a seemingly-nonviolent one, but nevertheless a group that should probably be kept under close watch, all things considered.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at August 25, 2005 12:11 AM | TrackBack