Saturday, April 5, 2008

"Dear Kansas": a letter on Children's rights, child abuse, and the system...


Guest Posted by Donna Roberts, ACRA-
A Child's Rights Association [<--link]

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I am sure most parents think the way I did two and a half years ago, "trusting of the child protection system". At one time I believed the system protected children from dangerous people and now I know that sometimes the abusers are the "system itself" and not the parents.

I am Donna Roberts, founder of ACRA-A Child's Rights Association. ACRA was formed after I lobbied for Jessica's Law in 2005, Jessica's Law is a law that helps protect children from sexual offenders who commit heinous crimes against innocent children.When I was lobbying for this law I started receiving phone calls from parents or grandparents concerned about the protection of their child/grandchild and I was amazed at how the system had failed these families so I decided my work was not done and continued on, so here I am today two and a half years later being a voice for all children and protective parents who have been failed by a system that was designed to help them.

I am not a parent who has been scorned by the system nor am I a disgruntled parent, I am a citizen who truly cares about Kansas families and the injustice done to them through the failures of law enforcement, family and juvenile courts, cps, district attorney's, family attorney's, therapists and the list goes on.

Attending a political forum hosted by a few of our state representatives and senators on March 29th in Derby [Kansas] was troubling to me, I had addressed an issue with them about the removal of children from their homes and how Kansas law allows law enforcement to take a child into custody on probable cause. When I addressed this issue, not one of the legislators responded on the issue, instead they danced around it side stepped it and totally ignored it. I was very troubled by one state representative in paticular who insulted parents and placed all the blame on the parents, this one state representative who represents our state should not be in Topeka making decisions that will affect our children's future and the future of families.

Kansas state statutes have loopholes that allow law enforcement free reign of our children. We have a monster lurking within our state and it is the Kansas Statute that allows law enforcement to place your child into custody on "probable cause" without any court orders, no legal document. Law enforcement can go to your child's school and remove your child from your custody and place them in the custody of the police department and hold them up to 72 hrs without a hearing, they can use force to remove your child from your home. Imagine being a child and your at school and you are called to the office and the next thing you know you are in a police car with a detective and social worker and you are being taken to strangers and you have no idea why. We must have laws that truly protect children but we also need laws that have some teeth that will not allow a law enforcement officer to remove your child from your care because they can.

We must bring awareness to these issues so children are better protected from abuse and abuse by the system. When a child is removed from a protective parent then the system has abused and has caused secondary abuse. When a child discloses that they are being abused at a parents house during visitiation then all visitation should be stopped, the abuse investigated and the abuser held accountable. Instead we have system that law enforcement uses their power to remove a child from the protective parents home and place the child with strangers (not grandparents or any other family members) and then the child is in a out of home placement for over a year just so the judge within the courts can give the abuser sole custody. Then the protective parent is given supervised visits once a week and is treated like the criminal. We have just taught every child who discloses abuse NOT TO TELL, they will be punished by a system that was designed to protect them. What are we doing to our children? It is time that the citizens of Kansas stand together and say enough is enough and protect our children and help keep families strong.

Lowenstein, S. R. (1991). Child sexual abuse in custody and visitation litigation:
Representation for the benefit of victims. UMKC Law Review, 60, 227-82.Sharon Lowenstein examined 96 custody and visitation disputes involving allegations of child sexual abuse from 33 states. Visitation was the principal issues in 36 cases. The father was alleged to have sexually molested their child in each of these 36 cases. Yet in two-thirds (24) of these cases fathers were granted unsupervised visitation.Custody was the principle issue in 56 cases. In 27 of the 56 cases (48%) mothers lost custody. In 17 of these cases (63%) the mother lost custody to a father alleged to be a perpetrator. In two cases (3.6%) fathers lost custody. No father lost custody to a mother whose household included an alleged perpetrator (either the mother, a stepfather, the mother's boyfriend, or one of mother's relatives).

Faller, K. C., & DeVoe, E. (1995). Allegations of sexual abuse in divorce, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 4(4), 1-25.
The authors examined 214 allegations of sexual abuse in divorce cases that were evaluated by a multidisciplinary team at a university-based clinic. 72.6% were determined likely, 20% unlikely, and 7.4% uncertain. The temporal relationship between allegations and divorce were analyzed and results revealed that in cases where CSA was judged to be likely or uncertain, in 18% of these cases divorce followed discovery of sexual abuse, in 32% cases discovery of sexual abuse followed divorce, in 34% of cases sexual abuse followed divorce, and 16% of allegations were found to be unrelated to divorce. Of the 20% of cases that were judged to be false or possibly false cases, only approximately a quarter (n = 10) were determined to have been consciously made. The remainder were classified as misinterpretations.

Faller and DeVoe found that 40 concerned parents experienced negative sanctions associated with raising the issue of sexual abuse. These sanctions included being jailed, losing custody to the alleged offender, a relative, or foster case, limitation or loss of visitation, admonitions not to report alleged abuse again to the court, Protective Services or the police, and prohibitions against taking the child to a physician or therapist because of concerns about sexual abuse in the future. None of the parents experiencing these sanctions were ones who were judged to have made calculated false allegations. In fact, sanctioned cases tended to score higher on a composite scale of likelihood of sexual abuse, and were more likely to have medical evidence than cases without sanctions.

Donna Roberts, ACRA-A Child's Rights Association, Derby Kansas

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Donna, you have been a very strong voice for the rights of Children and protective parents here in Kansas. We appreciate your calls for legislative reform, and we look forward to working with you in the coming legislative sessions to make these needed changes...

~Kevin




2 Click HERE to POST or READ the latest comments!!!:

The Real News April 5, 2008 at 5:15 PM  

You've missed the purpose of Family Court. Sadly, as www.FamilyLawCourts.com has long demonstrated, it's to allow those who work in the system, to continue preying on families who simply want to divorce and move on with their lives.

MSLGW April 5, 2008 at 5:55 PM  

This really ticks me off. These draconian laws are doing "More Harm Than Good."http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/09/06/usdom16819.htm

http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/09/06/usdom16819.htm

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