Banner Raps CAS
June 8, 2001
In an editorial today the Orangeville Banner has criticized the Children's Aid Society. The criticism is the mildest possible, but it is a first step:
A tough balance
An article in Tuesday's Banner observed that there is an "urgent need" for foster parents. It seems that recent revisions of the Child and Family Services Act have expanded the ability of the Children's Aid Society to intervene on children's behalf, newly including "neglect and witnessing parental violence". Between this and the increase in population here in Dufferin, the number of children in need of care in recent years has increased greatly.
These seem broad spectrums, but our sources at the Society assured us that there are very specific outlines and conditions which must apply before children will be taken from their homes.
Still, we have all heard horror stories of children being swept away from their homes by police-escorted society agents, without what would be considered by most of us sufficient evidence of need.
It is a fine line between unnecessary meddling and real intervention for good. There are always borderline cases where inaction is out of the question but action will lead to mistakes. The problem is the fact of government based interference in private lives. Where does a government's responsibility for our behaviour begin and where does it end? The more governments legislate about our private lives: our domestic affairs, our personal relationships, our parenting, the less we ourselves are responsible for those aspects of our own lives.
Will our children be better off as a result of official interference in their lives? Would as many children as are now in custody really be safer, happier, better balanced adults for being taken away from their parents? If parents can make mistakes in their parenting, surely many mistakes are also made by agents who are placed in a position to judge those parents and effectively bulldoze the their lives and those of their children.
It is a very delicate balance. If there are stringent checks and balances, not only into the cases in hand but also the very people investigating them, well and good. But it would be far better if, as a society, we educated ourselves to care properly and well for our own children, so as not, generally, to need the supervision of government agencies.