The Nanny state makes it impossible to raise children — and then takes them away

Sometimes the matched sets just write themselves.  Both of the articles I’m quoting here are from England.  The first in our set is an article saying that town councils across England are being told that they need to reinstate actual playgrounds.  The current versions, which are the kid equivalent of a padded room, are creating useless human beings:

Old-fashioned playground equipment like climbing frames, sand pits and paddling pools are set to be re-introduced after research found a degree of risk helps children to develop.

For years councils have felt forced to remove older attractions from their sites fearing any potential injuries could result in costly legal battles.

But recent research has shown that children actually benefit from risk when they play as it helps them develop the judgement skills they need in later life.

[snip]

Chairman Bernard Spiegal told the Sunday Times he believed Britain had been obsessed with risk assessment which was having a negative effect on children.

He said: ‘We were crippling their confidence by not letting them learn through experience.

‘We don’t want children losing fingers in badly designed swings or getting their heads trapped under a roundabout. But there’s nothing wrong with a bump, bruise and graze.’

I’ll add that current “safe” playgrounds don’t inspire much energy in the kids. The installations are so bland, the kids get bored quickly, and long for the less rigorous comforts of their computers and TV sets.

Before we head to the matched-set article, just have fixed firmly in your mind that Britain is a country that, out of an excess of nanny state caution, has rendered children’s physical play boring, essentially herding children back to the couch.

If you’ve got that notion firmly in mind, it’s time for article number two, which is harrowing. It all started a few years ago when a young boy banged his head and, because he was angry at his father, called his town’s version of Child Protective Services and accused his father of hitting him. Child Protective Services did exactly what one would expect it to do when dealing with a stable, middle class family — it latched onto it like a piranha or tick, and proceeded to suck the life out of the family.

The family’s sin? The kids are overweight. It’s now come to the point that Dundee’s CPS has announced that it will remove the four youngest children permanently, hiding them from the parents:

Four obese children are on the brink of being permanently removed from their family by social workers after their parents failed to bring their weight under control.

In the first case of its kind, their mother and father now face what they call the ‘unbearable’ likelihood of never seeing them again.

Their three daughters, aged 11, seven and one, and five-year-old son, will either be ‘fostered without contact’ or adopted.

[snip]

Warned that the children must slim or be placed in care, the family spent two years living in a council-funded ‘Big Brother’ house in which they were constantly supervised and the food they ate monitored.

[snip]

The couple have not committed any crime and are not accused of deliberate cruelty or abuse. Their solicitor, Joe Myles, said there was ‘nothing sinister lurking in the background’ and accused social workers of failing to act in the family’s best interests.

‘Dundee social services department appear to have locked horns with this couple and won’t let go,’ he said, adding that the monitoring project caused more problems than it solved. ‘The parents were constantly being accused of bad parenting and made to live under a microscope.

[snip]

Social workers became aware of the family in early 2008 after one of the sons accused his father of hitting him on the forehead. In truth, he had fallen and hit his head on a radiator – a fact he later admitted. However, the allegation opened the door to the obesity investigation.

While the couple admit experiencing what their lawyer calls ‘low grade’ parenting problems, which would have merited support, they were aghast when the issue of weight was seized on as a major concern.

[snip]

The couple were ordered to send their children to dance and football lessons and were given a three-month deadline to bring down their weight. When that failed, the children were placed in foster homes but were allowed to visit their parents.

After the couple objected to this arrangement, the council agreed to move them into a two-bedroom flat in a supported unit run by the Dundee Families Project. They insisted on the couple living with only three of their children at a time.

At meal times, a social worker stood in the room taking notes. Doctors raised concerns that the children put on weight whenever they spent time with their parents, a claim they vehemently denied.

[snip]

Although the children’s weight was the major concern, other allegations were included in a report. It showed that social workers were worried when the youngest child was found crawling unsupervised. The parents point out they were never far away and the flat had no stairs.

They also found her ‘attempting to put dangerous objects’ in her mouth. The family say this is natural in toddlers and she was never successful.

[snip]

The father, aged 56, said: ‘We have tried very hard to do everything that was asked of us. My wife has cooked healthy foods like home-made spaghetti bolognese and mince and potatoes; we’ve cut out snacks and only ever allowed the kids sweets on a Saturday. But nothing we’ve done has ever been enough.

‘The pressure of living in the family unit would have broken anyone. We were being treated like children and cut off from the outside world. To have a social worker stand and watch you eat is intolerable. I want other families to know what can happen once social workers become involved. We will fight them to the end to get our beloved children back.’

You can read the whole litany of social worker horribles here.

Anyone who has read Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism will not be surprised by the family’s sufferings.  This kind of micromanagement is precisely what the “loving” nanny state does.  Indeed, think about the fact that Obama’s administration has taken to calling itself your “federal family.”  For those who thinks it’s a figure of speech, it’s not.  Socialist government does not believe that it can trust parents to raise the next generation of cogs in the government organization.

In the same way, anyone who has paid any attention at all to Child Protective Services agencies (in whichever country, and under whatever name they operate) knows that too many of these organizations are much less concerned with protecting genuinely at risk children (the beaten, starved and killed who make periodic newspaper headlines), and are much more concerned with forcing middle and working class families to abandon their parenting role or to risk being forced to hand their children over to the state.

There’s a reason I believe that CPS stands, not for Child Protective Services, but for “Causes Parental Suffering.”

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

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  • JKB

    God save us from the social worker and may they come to painful unavoidable awareness of the evil they’ve wrought on the innocent be it petty interference as in this story or handing over the defenseless to their abusers.

    And, of course, they mean well, but that can’t wipe away the terrible damage they do.

    Quite frankly, it has taken a bit for me to come up with something as nice as that to say.   

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    I’ve probably posted this here before, but it’s so often appropriate:

    “To minimize suffering and to maximize security were natural and proper ends of society and Caesar. But then they became the only ends, somehow, and the only basis of law—a perversion. Inevitably, then, in seeking only them, we found only their opposites: maximum suffering and minimum security.” 

    –Walter Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz 

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Engineered crisis. They make the problem exist. Then they take power by promising to solve it.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    I knew one kid in our grade school that put her finger in a door jamb and the door was closed on her. I can promise you this. That girl will never ever place her fingers into small cracks again. The body remembers the pain, even if the mind is not paying attention.

  • Cheesestick

    I know I have heard plenty of stories about our own CPS agencies doing the same thing to a family for minor infractions.  Once you get on their radar, I don’t think you ever get off…even if a reasonable person would not think whatever happened to the child was too far out of the norm.  And while I do think some parents either contribute or are negligent when it comes to problems like weight or what have you, the state’s solution is always worse than the original problem. 
     
    And Y – It takes more than one finger smash to learn that lesson.  When I was a growing up, the doors on my bedroom closet were those folding kind.  About the only way to close them is to push at the hinged section – a serious design flaw in my opinion.  I smashed my fingers in those doors more times than I can count!  Neither I nor my body ever learned to stop it, but thankfully we finally moved to a different house…lol

  • Michael Adams

    My late mother-in-law was crazy, and mean, too.  Most of the world did not know about the craziness until the last few years of her life. Her daughter knew. We took many precautions to protect the kids from whatever she might do.  We had  no birth notices in the paper for either baby, lest she find out she had grand children, because she was just the kind to start a CPS case on us, if only to see what would happen.  They are well known to swoop in and take a breast-fed baby into foster care, for months, so the milk dries up, then the most you can expect is “Oops!  Sorry about that.” I’ve always heard that dysfunctional families have a lot of secrets.  Well, functional ones do too, or, they should.
     
    There’s another thing.  Those poor kids spent so much time in that enforced regimen and still did not lose weight?  Can it be that there is something else at work, there? People who have never been fat think it is all a matter of deciding to eat less. Well, no, it is not.  Some people are thin in spite of all that they can do.  Some people are fat. Not enough is known, by people who would know, if it were possible.
     
    I once worked in an adolescent psyche unit.  The second rate minds in charge of those  kids did some of the most ham-handed, unsophisticated s**t inside the unfortunate kids heads.  One thing they were supposed to do was sit down and talk with some staff member about their problems, every day. They all knew exactly the “right” things to say.  My routine was to stop them in the first paragraph, saying “Cut the crap.  Let’s talk for real.  What’s really going on?” Often, the serious crazy in the situation was the step parent. We hear about kids blaming everyone but themselves.  Yeah, sure, that happens. However, you’d be shocked by how often the kids blame themselves for the general insanity in the household.  The point of this ramble, yes, there was one, is that most of us do well enough to run our own lives.  It is a very rare person who is competent to run another person’s. Yes, that’s the essence of Conservatism.

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  • Oldflyer

    I have used this line before; it seems particularly appropriate here.  With  apologies to Carl Sandburg:  “Totalitarianism comes  on little cat feet.  It sits looking over harbor and city  on silent haunches…”.
    But, once established, never moves on voluntarily.

  • Cheesestick

    “Michael Adams – The point of this ramble, yes, there was one, is that most of us do well enough to run our own lives.  It is a very rare person who is competent to run another person’s. Yes, that’s the essence of Conservatism.”
     
    That reminded me of another message board conversation I had quite a while ago regarding the woman who drowned her 5 kids.  I was shocked at how many posters were open to the suggestion that all expectant mother’s be screened (by the govt. no less) for mental illness.  I kept asking these people for what?  What would the screener be looking for?  What answers would indicate that the mother is the type of person who would drown her kids?  How does the govt. know that? 
     
    This did not seem to resonate with any of them.  They seemed to believe that, just as 1 & 1 = 2, there is an exact science by which the govt. can know what is in the heart of a person and basically find them guilty of a crime BEFORE it is actually committed.  Their faith and trust in the govt. as well as the psychiatric industry was astonishing.     

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    To get rid of fat, males would need to go into weight training plus aerobics. Muscle burns more calories naturally, sleeping and walking, than does the equal weight of fat. And aerobics will increase the body’s metabolism as well, get it working. Half the problem is that these obese people are permanently stuck in winter starvation mode, thus their body is bleeding energy trying to decrease exertions. Getting their body to change modes requires more than Leftist dieting.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Cheesetick, that’s not the same situation. One is called common sense and avoiding dangers one doesn’t need to face. The other one is learning how to utilize fine motor control skills to do complicated motions and accomplish work.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    This girl was leaning against the door and had her finger in the open slot of the jam, while she was talking to someone or other. She was just not paying attention. Teaching people how to avoid things is relatively easy. If they pay attention, they don’t need to be told twice to avoid a danger. However, learning how to fight off a danger requires a higher level of skill than merely avoiding it.  

    Nazis took children away for the Jungen group. And the Ottomans took slave children away to become janisarries.

    It’s a good way to keep the masses in check while increasing your own military power. It does not make one more loved, but it does make one more feared. Which is what counts from a Leftist perspective.

  • Mike Devx

    They do exist – those abusive or outrageously neglectful parents, step-parents, relatives.  There’s a reason agencies like CPS came into existence.  But you grant them power to resolve the cases that cause the agencies to exist, and the next thing you know, they’re taking children away from parents because the parents are over-feeding them.

    It’s probably impossible to keep a government agency within proper bounds when you grant them this kind of unlimited authority.  They can’t seem to keep *themselves* within the proper boundaries!

    The litany of abuses by CPS that Book linked to as her prior post, that was an interesting past article.  The comments were interesting as well. 

  • http://what-was-lost.blogspot.com leebreynolds

    This is why it is so important to get involved in the political process.  Don’t just sit around and gripe about fascists in our midst perverting the organs of the state and usurping our natural rights.  FIGHT BACK.
    CPS is not beholden to the public, but they are beholden to the elected officials who give them a budget.
    This is how you get that budget cut:
    http://www.eagleforum.org/misc/brochures/precinct-committman.shtml