Sunday, February 6, 2011
Of 'Sluts', 'Bastards', 'Abuse' and Money
Totally relevant today, the book was written in response to Newt Gingrich's "exquisite canard of implying that children with an alive-and-kicking mother were orphans" and how orphanages are filled with children who are not parentless but fatherless...the children of mothers who are "Maritally challenged." The cover bears a Gingrich cartoon.
Ah "parentless"! What a wonderful nespeak used by pro-adoption zealots to express their wish that there were parentless children just waiitng for them to pluck up!
Armstrong goes on to state flat out that "child welfare is not and never has been about children."
Single mothers she claims, mincing no words, are in a "socially suspect position" and thus "declared to be social failures...in want of scrutiny, of rehabilitation." Armstrong finds that: "All women who have children outside of wedlock, and then have the nerve to be economically disadvantaged (by this worldview), deserve social contempt, social opprobrium, and a social blind eye." She calls Gingrich's plan "contempt masked as reform, rehabilitation and pity."
Parens patriae, which originated in English law, Armstrong reminds us, gives states the right to act as Big Daddy and caseworkers as police to remove children just as "authoritarian and abusive males often punish women–by threatening to take away, or even harm, the children."
"Both fear and punitiveness underpin the attitude toward poor single mothers" which leads to "surveillance with pity, suspicions and barely concealed contempt."
At the time this book was written: "neglect accounted for twice a many removals (49 percent) as physical abuse (24 percent), three times as many as sexual abuse (14 percent)" with "something called 'other' (other than medical neglect. emotional maltreatment, or unknown!)" accounting for 15 percent.
She speaks at great length of how mothers are blamed for father's sexual abuse of their children. Thus many cases falling under the "neglect" justification of child removal are mothers neglecting to protect their child from sexual abuse of a man and are thus not properly counted under that category.
Armstrong reminds us that "the first system of foster care was indenture."
She calls her collection of stories of mothers and children "in the system" a "what dunnit as opposed to a who dunnit mystery:
"The mystery of what is wrong in the way we are thinking about the problem posed by children who really do need intervention and help, that has allowed such a Byzantine and rudderless industry to develop. And what is wrong with the way we are thinking abut mothers and children in economic peril that has allowed their merged survival interests to be presumed adversarial?" Sure makes me think of us being used as pawns to keep our adopted-out adult children from accessing their own birth certificates, doesn't it?
She quotes Ira Schwartz, professor and director of the Center for Youth Policy at the School of Social Work, Univ. of Michigan:
"The public's been locked out of policy decisions. And I think that we suffered immensely as a result of that. The system has been largely unmonitored and unregulated – and has demonstrated a remarkable inability even to protect children, to guarantee their basic health and safety. So I think the whole thing is just chaos."
Armstrong reminds us that much of our governmental 'solutions" to child welfare 'problems" stem from knee-jerk reactions and throwing funds at the public outcries to "do something" when outrageous cases hit the headlines. It bears stark resemblance to local police, who when faced with a headline grabbing murder case will frame the most convenient suspect, guilty of not, and create a case to prove his guilt to satiate the public. Send innocent men to jail and innocent children to "treatment" because of the alleged (or even sometimes real) failings of their parents.
In the midst of my reading this, highlighter flying furiously over sentences, phrases, paragraphs and pages...with amazing synchronicity, my Canadian colleague Karen Lynn called my attention to an article entitled: The Child Abuse Laws Which Could Destroy Your Reputation. A MUST READ on the topic of social service abuses, CAPTA and how our tax dollars work to destroy families instead of attempting any real help or services.
"Child abuse," article author Dr. Mercola states, "has become a business – an industry of sorts – that actually pays states to legally abduct your children and put them up for adoption!"
In FY 2010 "the federal government is expected to spend at least $7 more on foster care and $4 more on adoption for every dollar spent to prevent foster care or speed reunification....The law also increases incentives for adoption by paying out $1,000 to $8,000 extra for certain types of children who are placed for adoption."