Posts tagged as:

Child Protective Services

July 29 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 29, 2014

  • Say nay, laddie: Unsettling new Scotland law will assign each child state interest guardian (“named person”) [BBC, Scottish government, Josie Appleton/Spiked Online, opposition group and another] More: Skenazy.
  • Why Judge Alex Kozinski doesn’t like jury nullification [Reason interview last year]
  • “Asbestos Ruling Boosts Transparency —- and Threatens Plaintiffs’ Attorneys” [Paul Barrett, Business Week, on Garlock ruling]
  • Winona, Minn. town cap on rental conversions violates property owners’ rights [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]
  • Challenger claims Ohio attorney general’s hiring of debt collection firms amounts to pay to play [Columbus Dispatch]
  • Mixed verdict in Philadelphia traffic court prosecutions [Inquirer, ABA Journal, earlier]
  • Save the date! Cato’s annual Constitution Day returns Wed., Sept. 17, with panelists and speakers like P.J. O’Rourke, Nadine Strossen, Tom Goldstein, Judge Diane Sykes, Roger Pilon, and a host of others [details]

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Father’s Day special

by Walter Olson on June 15, 2014

“Dad Gets 1 Year Probation for Making Son Walk a Mile” [Hawaii; Free-Range Kids]

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May 30 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 30, 2014


Lenore Skenazy’s incredibly funny talk last Thursday, with me commenting and moderating (and even at one point giving my impression of a 3-year-old losing a cookie), is now online. Several people have told me this was one of the most entertaining and illuminating Cato talks they’ve seen.

Lenore’s blog is Free-Range Kids and you can buy her book of the same name here. Some links on topics that came up in my remarks: Harvard researchers call for yanking obese kids out of their homes; authorities in Queensland, Australia, plan use of satellite data to spy out noncompliance with pool safety rules; courts reward helicopter parents in custody battles; charges dropped against mom who left toddler sleeping in car while she dropped coins in Salvation Army bucket; proposals to cut kids’ food into small bits and discontinue things like peanuts and marshmallows entirely; authorities snatch kids from homes after parents busted with small quantities of pot.

P.S. Direct video link here (h/t comments).

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“In [a New Jersey] appeals court decision last week, three judges ruled that a mother who left her toddler sleeping in his car seat while she went into a store for five to 10 minutes was indeed guilty of abuse or neglect for taking insufficient care to protect him from harm.” The child was unharmed. [Lenore Skenazy, New York Post and Free-Range Kids] Author Lenore Skenazy, who has written about hundreds of instances of questionable legal protectiveness or overprotectiveness at her Free-Range Kids blog, will be speaking at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, with me commenting; the event is free and open to the public, but you need to register here. (Update: postponed due to weather)

And: Scott Greenfield has more thoughts on the impulse to bring brief episodes of unattended back-seat child solitude into the criminal, therapeutic or supervisory orbit. Like so many others of my generation, I was left in the car during brief shopping errands by my own decidedly conscientious and non-abusive mother.

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January 3 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 3, 2014

  • Taxpayers on hook: “N.J. boy left blind and brain-damaged after being beaten by father awarded $166M by jury” [Newark Star-Ledger]
  • “Psychic Love Spell Center stole my money, lawyer alleges in lawsuit” [Houston; ABA Journal]
  • “You can’t win these suits… Move on with your life.” Good advice for someone falsely accused of rape? [Roxanne Jones, CNN]
  • Critical look at California judge’s lead paint ruling [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, earlier here, here]
  • $6 check and apology over “F-word”: “Pub owner’s sarcastic response to Starbucks cease-and-desist letter goes viral” [ABA Journal]
  • Suburb doesn’t want to accept public transit, but feds force its hand by use of controversial disparate impact theory [Dayton Daily News]
  • Randy Barnett: libertarianism as a vehicle for moderation, toleration and social peace [Chapman Law Review/SSRN; one of my favorite academic papers from last year]

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September 23 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 23, 2013

  • Drunk driver leaves road, hits power pole, Washington high court allows suit against property owner to proceed [Lowman v. Wilbur, PDF]
  • State attorneys general pressure clothing maker to drop t-shirts with drug names [ABA Journal, related earlier]
  • More transparency needed in Child Protective Services [Reason TV] One lawyer’s critique of CPS [Laurel Dietz, Straight (Vancouver)]
  • While aspiring to nudge us into more farsighted financial practices, government has trouble staying out of dumb bond deals itself [Coyote, and more (Detroit)]
  • You can care about safety but still think some speed limits are set too low [Canadian video on Jalopnik]
  • Trial lawyers aim to extend to Indiana their Idaho victory over “Baseball Rule” on spectator liability [NWIT, earlier here, here, here, etc.]
  • New “fair-housing” assessment and planning process propels federal government into social engineering [IBD editorial via AEI Ideas, HUD]

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Some folks think that by posting so many stories of public agencies doing horrible things, I’m improperly undermining confidence in the government we must all depend on. Every time I try to taper off, however, I seem to run into a story like this. [Eugene Volokh]

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“State Seizes Two-Year-Old Child From Parents Because They Smoked Pot, Child Dies in Foster Care” [Rockdale, Texas; Ed Krajewski, Reason] On the propensity of some local authorities to seize kids in marijuana cases, see this report last year on one California county.

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They were seeking a second opinion on whether the baby needed heart surgery, and didn’t trust the care they were getting from Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento, so parents Anna and Alex Nikolayev went over to Kaiser Permanente to get a second opinion. Police and Child Protective Services then showed up at their house to seize five-month-old Sammy. “A judge ordered Monday that the child be moved to Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, a decision which the Nikolayevs consider a win,” and also ordered that they obey all medical advice. [KSL, Today, Good Morning America (auto-plays)]

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Someone needs to organize one pronto, to judge by stories like this one from Ohio, where parents say they need pro bono help against a Child Protective Services attempt to seize custody of their six year old daughter for “neglect” that appears to include letting her walk around the neighborhood [Free-Range Kids, Shackford]

P.S.: Another story from Australia last year; and a happier one from Canada.

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Floating staircases, indoor rock formations, open firepits, moss-slicked ledges: if you try to raise a family in a Mid-Century Modern home, don’t be surprised if someone calls Child Protective Services on you. [Projectophile]

Lenore Skenazy of Free-Range Kids is the guest essayist at Cato Unbound. Excerpt:

..any time a politician, principal, or bureaucrat wants to score points, he or she lets us know that kids are even more precious—and endangered—than we thought….

How far has society gone in dreaming up new dangers to protect our children from? Until you take a step back and look at all the new laws and regulations, you probably have no idea….

Over the summer, according to the Manchester, Connnecticut Patch, a local mom was charged with “risk of injury to a minor and failure to appear after police say she allowed her seven-year and 11-year old children to walk down to Spruce Street to buy pizza unsupervised.” This was a walk of half a mile….

…in the “real world,” stranger abductions are so rare that if for some reason you actually WANTED your child to be kidnapped by a stranger, do you know how long you’d have to keep your child outside, unattended, so that statistically the abduction would be likely to happen?

The answer is about 750,000 years, according to author Warwick Cairns. And after the first 100,000 years or so, your kid isn’t even cute anymore. …

At the same time, there is a parallel process going on the regulatory world, with bureaucrats looking ever more intently for ever less likely dangers, on the grounds that kids can never be safe enough. This explains things like the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall of a line of children’s jackets last year because the elastic waistbands had toggles on it “that could become snagged or caught in small spaces or doorways, which poses an entrapment hazard to children.”

Yes, it’s true: Those toggles could snag. Does that make them inherently more dangerous than, say, pigtails that could get caught in a door, or a charm bracelet that could get snagged on an electric window? I’m just free-associating products and problems here, because that’s what it feels like the CPSC does, too.

In the discussion, Skenazy is joined by Anthony Green, James A. Swartz and Joel Best.

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In Rockville, Maryland, a ten-year-old kid is riding the city bus [Free-Range Kids]

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Asset forfeiture roundup

by Walter Olson on September 5, 2012

  • Press accounts have exposed a pattern of police stops of out of state motorists in rural Tennessee, in which police search motorists’ cars and then confiscate large sums of money they find on the presumption that it is criminal-related. Now, in Henry, Tennessee — named after Patrick Henry, of “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” fame — the police chief has told the town he needs a police dog because “the city is missing out on possible revenues” [dog testimonials; more Tennessee, via Eapen Thampy of Americans for Forfeiture Reform, guestblogging last month at Radley Balko's Agitator site]
  • Also via Thampy, economically hard-hit Butte County, California, north of Sacramento, has been filling its budget hole through pot-grower busts accompanied by aggressive forfeitures; in a perhaps not unrelated phenomenon, the county snatches kids from parents at an exceedingly high rate. More on child protective services in Butte County at the Chico News & Review (& more: Angela Bacca, SKUNK).
  • Via Ilya Somin, this from a Steven Greenhut column:

    Few groups of “sinners” were singled out in biblical accounts more than “tax collectors,” who were not merely state agents collecting revenues that taxpayers rightfully owed to the government. They were the source of particular loathing because they were extortionists, who profited personally by shaking down as much money from citizens as possible…

    The Gospel accounts provide an early lesson in the danger of marrying the profit motive with governmental power. The possibility for abuse is great. Yet throughout the United States, government agencies increasingly rely on “civil forfeiture” to bolster their strained budgets. The more assets these modern-day tax collectors seize, the more money they have for new equipment and other things….

  • From reader John Brewer, on an Ohio gardening-equipment seizure: “Structurally, it seems even worse to have the judge who originally signed the search warrant have a say in what gets done with the confiscated stuff than it does for the cops/DA to get it, despite the cute-and-cuddly outcome here.”
  • Tomorrow’s abuses today: the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms [BATF] has just been given a major enhancement to its forfeiture powers. [David Kopel/Volokh]
  • For more information on this subject, check out the many online resources offered by the Cato Institute; Cato scholars took an early interest in exposing the problems of civil and criminal asset forfeiture, and our focus on the issue continues to this day. More: Scott Greenfield. (& Tim Lynch, PoliceMisconduct.net)

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“Parents who transport a youngster without a car seat and lose the child in a fatal traffic accident may have their surviving children removed by social welfare authorities, the California Supreme Court decided unanimously.” [Maura Dolan, L.A. Times via Ann Althouse, whose commentary is borrowed for the headline]

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