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No excuses for CPS

My reaction to this Chron story about how Child Protective Services is just a well-intentioned but misunderstood agency that made a few mistakes that maybe we can now see in retrospect is pretty much the same as Grits’ reaction.

We’re still battling the effects of CPS’ successful public relations campaign against FLDS group, including but not limited to their claims that:

* 60% of teen girls were pregnant or mothers: To get that number, CPS included 26 adult women who denied they were minors and turned out to be telling the truth, but not until after the agency repeatedly called them liars in the press.
* 10% of kids had broken bones in the past: It turned out they didn’t really know how many had broken bones, and anyway 10% would be less than the average for kids in the outside world.
* Male children were molested, although CPS never provided evidence in court for the assertion and dropped the allegation after it made media headlines.

And those are just the lowlights. This disinformation campaign is why I cannot agree with Houston Chronicle columnist Rick Casey who writes, “CPS should and will follow the law. But it’s not as though they willfully broke it.”

I think they did. I think they knew the whole ranch shouldn’t be considered a single “household.” I think they knew the group’s religious beliefs didn’t meet the legal definition of abuse. Certainly they knew claims that 60% of teen girls were mothers were false at the time they made them (the agency added the caveat two days after the headlines ran to say most of those girls claimed to be adults, which turned out to be correct).

If CPS was acting in good faith, why were we subjected to a constant stream of misinformation? That’s the part I don’t understand. Certainly that behavior significantly colored my own reaction to the raid and its aftermath; once I become convinced you didn’t tell me the truth, I start to doublecheck your statements, and CPS’ never held up under scrutiny. At the end of the day, the courts found the same thing.

I am reminded once again of The D-Squared Digest One Minute MBA – Avoiding Projects Pursued By Morons 101, which posits that “Good ideas do not need lots of lies told about them in order to gain public acceptance”. Someone ought to make a motivational poster out of that an display it prominently in CPS’s offices. Maybe then something positive will come out of all this.

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