The Paua Palace

My royal blog, life, opinions and me, it’s all about ME.. Right?

Children in Peril

Posted by pauaprincess on July 12, 2007

After dinner of an evening, when the hatchlings are in bed, the Prince and I like to sit in our comfy chairs and watch a little tv. I see more and more advertisements asking for funds to assist children in peril in third world nations, World Vision, CCF so on and so forth, all telling me it just takes a dollar a day. Just a dollar a day? I wonder aloud, if it just takes a dollar a day to save a child in Africa or India or the Sudan, how much would it cost to save a child in Otara? In New Lynn or in Beach haven?In America they have DCS, in Britain DSS and in New Zealand we have CYFS. All large overworked and underfunded Government agencies designed to help children in peril on the homefront. But how effective are they?

When a child is killed through abuse or neglect, we are all very quick to sit in our comfy homes and condemn CYFS, why didn’t they do something? Why didn’t they act? When it’s revealed that a concerned teacher or relative had been in touch with CYFS the condemnation only increases. In 30% of child deaths in NZ, CYFS were aware of the child.

Similarly, when we see a story about a child in CYFS care getting into trouble or a story about a family going to CYFS for support with a troubled child and CYFS removing that child from them, we scream for accountability.

We’ve all heard the horror stories, check out http://cyfswatch.org/ to see them. Do we hear about their successes? Where are the stories of children saved by CYFS? There must be some. There must!

CYFS are stuck between a rock and a hard place, act too late, a child could at worst die, at best they could end up in the justice system. Act too soon and they run the risk of the parent hiding the child or they misjudge the situation and remove a child from a loving home in error. Worse still is placing a child in care. At best they can be well cared for and grow up to become productive human beings. At worst? Placed with ill vetted caregivers who are in it for the money alone, children become runaways, criminals or die at the hands of caregivers or of youth justice offenders placed in care instead of custody where they belong because of an ineffective and faulty youth justice system and a lack of youth justice facilities. Placements within family are not always optimal either, adding pressure to already pressured family environments.

CYFSwatch to me is a somewhat over the top organisation with it’s name and shame campaign, yet, it is an organisation born of desperation. The desperation of a society that wants a better system, with more accountability that will act swiftly in the right situations and tread softly when necessary.

There cannot be blanket rules and a flowchart mentality to solve problems of neglect and abuse. Socialworkers need the time, education and resources to make the right decisions, in the best interests of the child and it’s family. Family’s need to be able to approach CYFS with a problem without the fear of having their children removed immediately prior to a proper investigation of the issues. Parents need to be able to approach CYFS without fear of blame and condemation in order to solve problems of parenting.

Perhaps instead of giving that dollar a day to Africa, we should be giving it to our governments to assist with getting children out of peril at home? The phrase is Charity begins at home after all.

There has to be a happy medium between what we have now and what we want, in order to achieve a best possible outcome for all involved.  A happy medium between placing children in care and placing children in custody.  A way to save the next generation.

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