I've been writing and speaking extensively about the growing crisis in this country (the U.S.) of a broken child protective services system that takes children away from loving parents on the basis of false accusations of child abuse and/or poor investigations for some time now.
I'm not happy to find out that it's not just American CPS agencies breaking up families.
It's happening in the United Kingdom, too.
This article from the Telegraph authored by Christopher Booker, who's apparently covered these issues in England as well, tells the tragic story. Unsurprisingly, the epidemic of children ripped from parents' custody on less-than-compelling evidence hits foreigners there much more often.
Immigrants are among the most at-risk populations for rights abuses anywhere in the world. Disadvantaged by language, lack of familiarity with laws and procedures, and cultural differences all combine to make it difficult for immigrants to cope. Immigrant populations need assistance to meet the political machinery of a country's CPS bureaucracy.
In the CPS procedural context, as with other allegations of criminal activity, that assistance is supposed to come from the embassies of their home countries. But apparently U.K. CPS workers aren't exactly complying with the legal requirements to keep those embassies in the loop on such cases impacting their fellow citizens in the U.K.:
Another concern of the meeting was the consistent failure of our social workers to notify the embassies that their nationals had been taken into care (as Mr Hemming explained, this is illegal), or then to allow them to have any contact with the children. Yet the social workers are quite happy to make last-minute demands of the embassies that they provide detailed information on the families. “Between us and the British authorities,” said one speaker, “there is only one-way traffic.” A further common complaint was that the lawyers provided by local authorities to represent the families in court seem all too often to be hand in glove with “the system”, colluding to have the seized children kept in care.
Strong words to be sure. And I'm very glad that MP John Hemming is seriously investigating this crisis and that Mr. Brooker is reporting on it. Another quote from Brooker's article is chilling:
I have reported here more than a dozen such stories of foreign children being removed from their parents for what appeared to be quite bizarre reasons, such as the French mother whose children were snatched from her when she was only visiting London for a brief holiday. Another case involved a German mother, who only escaped with her son back to Germany in the nick of time after she had admitted that she was a bit depressed to a stranger, who promptly reported her to social services. On Friday I heard from a Russian mother, who has worked here for years, that although social workers had at last allowed her 16-year-old daughter to return to live with her after two years in foster care, the foster carer is still being paid £500 a week for looking after the girl.
Can you imagine taking your children on a much-anticipated trip to Canada, for instance, and on your second day in Toronto having your children forcibly removed from your custody by the Canadian government? What if it happened in Mexico? And you didn't speak Spanish? The terror and outrage these actions must generate in the parents can only be imagined.
I'm not happy, not by a long shot, that it's not just the U.S. struggling with this problem. But the fact that we have company doesn't relieve us of our responsibility to fix the problem at home.