Friday, January 25, 2013

Everybody loses

This is about the 11 year old that attempted a car-jacking and robbery with a loaded pistol obtained from his father's truck. The state has removed the children from the parents at least for a year. The next hearing is one year away.  [Father of 11-year-old accused in attempted carjacking with a gun accepts responsibility in court].

There are three children: 11, 7, and 4. Mother is pregnant. Apparently there are no relatives like grandparents willing and capable of taking these children.

Mother "admitted that she maintained unsanitary and unsafe conditions in their home that put the children at risk and failed to maintain a safe environment that allowed their access to a deadly weapon."

One wonders, because the journalists are not going to tell us, what were the "unsanitary and unsafe conditions?" The children were removed from their parents once before for same or similar reasons. And it would appear, again the journalists are not going to tell us, that the state didn't do any follow-ups since the children were returned to the parents.

In an earlier post on this subject I stated: "Don't be surprised that he will be returned to his parents and the parents will receive little more than an admonishment." Well removal of the children is no slap on the wrists. Two times was enough for the  state, although if were not for the 11 year old's criminal behavior the state would not have known or even cared. One can only suspect funding is an issue.

It is not too difficult to see that parents losing custody of their children is a terrible wake-up call. Nobody wins, everyone loses. Arguably these children were not abused in any physical or mental manner, neglected yes.

I was surprised that both parents took the responsibility for their conduct. There was no finger pointing. It seems the 11 year old using the gun was the wake up moment. As the father noted "I don't think anybody would disagree that this could have resulted in a lot worse. I don't disagree with how serious what he did was...that was horrible."

There will be those that can reasonably argue that being in the care of the state for an extended time is not a solution, even a temporary one, beneficial to parents or children.  Neither of the children will understand why they have been taken from their parents.

But, the 11 year old has expressed guilt.  The mother in requesting immediate visitation between him and the father noted that "the 11-year-old boy feels tremendous guilt." It is unlikely that he will be able to grasp the fact that it is his parent's neglect that is responsible for that guilt. At 11 - he is still innocent.

Hopefully, visitation will not be prohibited, but I suspect it will be either non-existent or so circumscribed that it will be of little benefit to the child or parent. A parent in a visitation role rather than a custodial role might well as have no role at all. Even in a typical child custody case, "visitation" essentially eliminates the interaction necessary to the existence of a parent-child relationship.

Too bad that the reader of the news stories didn't have the benefit of more facts and analysis. In addition of not knowing the details of  unsanitary and unsafe conditions, we are not told why the father was a convicted felon. We are not told whether the gun was legal or not. We are not told his drug of choice. It just seems that this case deserves more attention.

The children's loss of their parents' love and care, however we may judge it to be deficient,  is the tragedy. What is truly precious is not realized until it is taken away. But these parents had a warning. It is the children paying the price.

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