Best Interest of the child

viagra buy arial, recipe sans-serif;”>By Leo G. Alvarez

When laws are “bad” for individuals and the overall community what should we do?

For Judges there is no option but to follow the law or find a flaw in it.

For law enforcement the only option is enforcement although some Department heads can choose to ask their personnel not to enforce certain laws.

For Prosecutors there is more leeway in that they can pick and choose what cases to file or reduce to misdemeanors, and what cases to plea bargain.

For Agencies formed to apply the laws there is nothing they can do but abide by the law and/or establish policies and procedure to implement them.

A Ventura County attorney was featured in a television interview regarding the law applicable to child abuse cases. He said (and I paraphrase) that, the way Dependency laws are written the system may not necessarily do what is in the best interest of the child but the system does the legally correct thing.

Mull that over for a few seconds. The law deals with child abuse – it is designed to protect the child from further abuse – yet this attorney is saying that it does not necessarily do what is in the best interest of the child.

He is referring to CAPTA, the Child Abuse Protection and Treatment Act which is now over 40 years old (created in the 70’s) and has been revised and re-visted numerous times since. More specifically, it is Title 42 of the United States Code, Chapter 67, Section 5106a. As a Federal law and because of how it is written, it funds all Social services in every State, and if you drink from the Federal trough you must abide by the law. Like so many federal laws it is page upon page of legal speak.

For Instance, the act of reunifying a child with a parent who has murdered or seriously injured a sibling of the child. In one paragraph this law states that reunification will not take place. In other words, you do not reunify the remaining children with the murderer. For all intents and purposes the remaining children will be safe from the murderer you are led to believe.

Not so! Several paragraphs down it reiterates that the children will not be reunified with the murderer EXCEPT ON A CASE BY CASE BASIS, and the State is left to decide that.

The law does not, for sure, consider what is in the best interest of the child because the framers of the law feel that what is in the best interest of the child is to NOT separate it from its parents because of the emotional problems and situations it creates for the child. To them, it is more important to keep even dysfunctional families together. Their theory is that even dysfunctional parents can become better parents, although they do not define nor establish standards that must be reached.

And absent in this discourse is the matter of confidentiality that is another clause in this law. Once Social Services is involved you will not hear about a case unless a child is killed. Child abuse is a crime (assault and battery) so contact law enforcement FIRST.

Before you can attack the issue of child abuse in this country you must be fully aware of CAPTA and how it perpetuates child abuse. Would you give an arsonist a match, a burglar the keys to your house, or a sex offender your child to babysit? Then why in God’s name are abused children returned to their abusers?

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Leo Alvarez is retired from Oxnard PD and is President of the Children’s Wall of Tears™ www.thecwot.org

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