Patterico's Pontifications

6/12/2015

Story: Parents Dragged Through Hell Because Their Son Was in the Back Yard for an Hour and a Half

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:50 am



This story, if true, is another illustration of why we have given government too much power over our lives:

One afternoon this past April, a Florida mom and dad I’ll call Cindy and Fred could not get home in time to let their 11-year-old son into the house. The boy didn’t have a key, so he played basketball in the yard. He was alone for 90 minutes. A neighbor called the cops, and when the parents arrived—having been delayed by traffic and rain—they were arrested for negligence.

They were put in handcuffs, strip searched, fingerprinted, and held overnight in jail.

It would be a month before their sons—the 11-year-old and his 4-year-old brother—were allowed home again. Only after the eldest spoke up and begged a judge to give him back to his parents did the situation improve.

I’m always on my guard about stories like this. It’s written by a “free range kids” activist and published on Reason.com, so any facts that might be inconvenient to the narrative are almost certainly airbrushed out. But if the true facts are anything close to what is described, the family has faced an Orwellian nightmare.

I can’t really imagine not giving government the power to protect children in extreme circumstances of abuse. I suspect the problem is the incentive structure, which is arranged such that only lenient treatment of parents has downsides. Every bureaucrat wants to avoid the scenario where they were too lenient to parent x, and then parent x killed their kids. So they throw common sense out the window in a situation like this.

Perhaps it’s time that the judge, social workers, and neighbors are named and shamed. Flip the incentive structure around a bit, so that people are worried about the public appearance of dragging parents through hell because their kid was in the back yard for a while.

Assuming there are no bad facts to hide, why not?

46 Responses to “Story: Parents Dragged Through Hell Because Their Son Was in the Back Yard for an Hour and a Half”

  1. Strip-searched? Really?

    Patterico (3cc0c1)

  2. Why didn’t the kid have a key ? I grew up with many “House-key kids” and it was no big deal. The ones I knew in the 50s were mostly the children of WWII KIAs. Later, many were children of divorce. It was not good and some got into trouble but this stuff is just crazy.

    Mike K (90dfdc)

  3. I was that kid, once. Rather than call the cops, the neighbors watched me for a while.

    So is the problem here the bureaucrat, or is the problem the neighbors who called the cops?

    aphrael (69b4f7)

  4. Power-hungry ‘crats with a desire to screw over other people with impunity and go home and..laugh are a given. It’s to be expected, like the weather only more predictable. The neighbors are the ones who need to be shamed. We cannot expect to be free of the ‘crats in anybody’s lifetime, so the issue is how to stay shut of them. That means neighbors like this need to be sanctioned in some legal manner. Nobody gives them a hand when they need a ride, have a flat tire, are out of town and need somebody to water the flowers or let the dog out, kids need a ride to sports practice, nobody speaks to them or makes eye contact. Either they are evil,in which case they deserve sanction, or they think they were doing the right thing in which case they are so stupid nothing can be done to educate them.

    Richard Aubrey (f6d8de)

  5. … the issue is Public Officials rarely suffer their irresponsible and reckless behavior.

    Rodney King's Spirit (b31520)

  6. I had to shake my head as I read this, as it had me thinking about the eulogy I gave for my sister last Saturday… an excerpt:

    “…I have memories of us all as pre-teens riding our Stingray banana seat equipped bikes all around the eastside of Anaheim, we even took some bike rides from our home to a “country club” that was all the way out in Carbon Canyon across the LA County line… and thought nothing of it… let alone did we tell tell our mother or father about the excursions until an opportune time, or well after the statute of limitations ran out, whichever came first, usually the latter. Kids roamed the streets… and we liked it! It was a different time.”

    Different times…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  7. I was that kid once too, aphrael. But unless I was getting into trouble or getting into harm everyone minded their own business. The only time an adult stepped in was if there was some sort of problem. What makes it necessary for them to stick their noses in somebody else’s business nowadays?

    Hoagie (f4eb27)

  8. Maybe it is easier, and less open to litigation, to call the police, instead of saying hello and asking if everything is Ok.

    Just think, if the child had been taught to not trust the police, it was a real problem.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  9. I mean, if the neighbors had invited the child in, they may have been accused of being predators,
    it’s a mess.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  10. “I’m always on my guard about stories like this. It’s written by a “free range kids” activist and published on Reason.com, so any facts that might be inconvenient to the narrative are almost certainly airbrushed out.”

    Me too.

    And, it looks like, with good reason:
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/forgetting-lesson-uvarolling-stone-hoax_969898.html

    The Reason writer looks like she did basically zero investigation into the claim – just took the story on faith. So who knows what really happened.

    A.S. (23bc66)

  11. Hoagie – that’s exactly my point.

    aphrael (69b4f7)

  12. i agree with the hesitation to accept this story as it presently exists.
    The neighbors didn’t talk to the kid, just called the police straight away?
    some huge gaps seem to be in the telling, if not straight out falsity. Why the stripsearch?

    seeRpea (0cf003)

  13. After 90 minutes of hearing that basketball going “boing, boing,” they had to do something.

    AZ Bob (7d2a2c)

  14. In other news ‘Karma is Shiva’s bitch':

    minx.cc:1080/?post=357280

    Ted Cruz is not nearly conservative enough.

    DNF (208255)

  15. Maybe the kid is a really bad basketball player and his lack of game offended the neighbors.

    JVW (8278a3)

  16. I don’t believe stories like this from Reason anymore than I would from Alex Jones. Facts inconvenient to the narrative air-brushed out is putting it very charitably.

    nk (dbc370)

  17. aphrael (69b4f7) — 6/12/2015 @ 8:00 am

    Absolutely right, Aphrael. When I was a kid, our neighbors were always watching out for us. Both in good ways – “oh my, you fell off your bike! Let me disinfect that for you! ” And not-so-good – “hey, kid, get off my lawn!”

    felipe (56556d)

  18. Why didn’t the kid have a key ?

    Risk diversity. Better to lose just the kid than the kid and your house key.

    Do you know how expensive it is to change locks?

    egd (1ad898)

  19. If the facts are as presented, then shame on the cop, shame on the neighbor, shame on the judge who waited a month.

    That said, the mere fact that the cops felt it worthwhile to arrest, and the juvenile system judges thought it worth while to keep the kids in state custody, suggests to me that there is much more to the story than what the Reason article gives.

    kishnevi (870883)

  20. One certainly hopes that there was more to the story. Or that the tar, feathers, and rails are being prepared.

    htom (4ca1fa)

  21. The degree of alleged despicable conduct by the authorities here does warrant caution and a degree of healthy skepticism, but the idea that the authorities in many states have been drifting into disturbingly authoritarian areas regarding parents who allow things that anyone born before 1980 would have viewed as routine in their upbringing is very much real. Sadly, it also seems to enjoy broad bipartisan support. This is a real problem.

    M. Scott Eiland (a742b7)

  22. the neighbor should be famous

    in a just whirl the neighbor would be famous

    like caitlyn jenner famous

    happyfeet (831175)

  23. In most states, you cannot blame the cops. Once a complaint of child abuse or neglect is made, they are required to act to remove the child or children from the situation, and it is up to CPS to investigate and resolve the issues before the children can be returned to the home.

    It is the same type of overreaction that led to automatic arrests on domestic violence calls, which are not needed in the vast majority of calls, but are ensconced in statute now, removing all discretion.

    “Zero tolerance” nearly always means “zero intelligence” will be applied.

    Estragon (ada867)

  24. Patterico,

    I have asked here and not seen a reply–Is what Slate publishing (not that I trust them any farther than I can toss them) anywhere near what is happening here:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2015/05/orange_county_prosecutor_misconduct_judge_goethals_takes_district_attorney.html

    Prosecutorial and police misconduct are often dismissed as just a few bad apples doing a few bad apple-ish things. But what happens when it’s entrenched and systemic and goes unchecked for years? That looks to be the case in Orange County, California, where the situation got so completely out of hand this spring that Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals issued an order disqualifying the entire Orange County District Attorney’s Office (that’s all 250 prosecutors) from continuing to prosecute a major death penalty case.

    After literally years of alleged misconduct involving jailhouse informants, as well as prosecutors’ repeated failures to turn over exculpatory material, Judge Goethals determined in March that the office can simply no longer work on the case of mass murderer Scott Dekraai, who pleaded guilty last year to killing his ex-wife and seven others at a beauty salon in 2011.

    Seems to be big news that I have not read about elsewhere.

    There appears to have been a lot of institutional lying going on there, again if Slate has the basic facts correct.

    BfC (8661e2)

  25. “… too lenient to parent x, and then parent x killed their kids …”

    But, that seems to be the outlier.
    The “new normal” is that the kids are taken away from the parents – for whatever reason, or sometimes an imaginary one – and put into Foster Care, and the real damage occurs.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  26. I agree aphrael, what’s with the neighbors? Couldn’t they just call out, hey, you kids okay? Must be a back story there.

    Also cities now encourage informing on neighbors for such crimes as over watering or watering at the wrong time. Our little burg even supplies a confidential phone line. We never learn, do we?

    http://www.reidsitaly.com/destinations/veneto/venice/sights/palazzo_ducale.html#lions_mouth

    patricia (5fc097)

  27. I can’t really imagine not giving government the power to protect children in extreme circumstances of abuse.

    I can. Government simply cannot be trusted with that power. Forcibly removing a child from its parents is inherently wrong and harmful, and can only be justified if the alternative is worse; not only is government incapable of making that judgment, the record shows that the places it puts the children it removes are almost always worse than what it removed them from in the first place.

    So even if the result of taking this power away from the government is that some children stay in situations they really need to be removed from, that harm would be overwelmingly outweighed by the good it would do. But that needn’t be the result. We can go back to how things worked before governments started doing this: if neighbours saw an intolerable situation, they gave the child shelter, without the authority of the law, and indeed sometimes against the law, but they did what needed to be done and the government didn’t interfere. If things got better at home, the child could go back with no harm done. Of course this didn’t always work, but what does? I’ll bet it worked more often than the current system does.

    Milhouse (a0cc5c)

  28. “I’m always on my guard about stories like this

    Me too.

    And, it looks like, with good reason:

    What good reason? The Weekly Standard doesn’t give any reason to doubt the story, it just says it wasn’t independently verified. So the writer shares your skepticism, but that doesn’t make it more valid.

    The writer compares this to the infamous Rolling Stone story. But that story was 1) inherently implausible, and 2) presented as if it were thoroughly researched. This story is 1) inherently plausible; these things happen routinely; and 2) it’s an initial news report, not a piece of investigative journalism.

    In any case, if you’re relying on the Weekly Standard to justify your skepticism, see the update. The verification process has begun and so far it seems to check out.

    Milhouse (a0cc5c)

  29. 27.

    I can’t really imagine not giving government the power to protect children in extreme circumstances of abuse.

    I can. Government simply cannot be trusted with that power…

    Milhouse (a0cc5c) — 6/12/2015 @ 2:13 pm

    Concur.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/malika-saada-saar/stopping-the-foster-care-_b_4170483.html

    Stopping the Foster Care to Child Trafficking Pipeline

    The crisis of child trafficking and exploitation in the U.S. is finally capturing our attention. But a critical part of the story has not been told. Most of the children who are being bought and sold for sex in our nation are foster care children. In the states that are tracking these children the following, devastating numbers reveal that:

    • In 2013, 60 percent of the child sex trafficking victims recovered as part of a FBI nationwide raid from over 70 cities were children from foster care or group homes.

    • In 2012, Connecticut reported 88 child victims of sex trafficking. Eighty-six were child welfare involved, and most reported abuse while in foster care or residential placement…

    I have my beefs with Big L Libertarians, but there’s one mistake they almost never make, conservatives sometimes make, and liberals always make.

    Believing that government is compassionate and caring.

    Steve57 (48418e)

  30. Maybe one or two of those children are better off than they were with their parents. But all the rest of them are far worse off. Ideally, in the absence of government interference those one or two would be rescued by neighbours, relatives, or friends. But if they weren’t, and their parents ended up killing them, that would still be a far better outcome than the current system.

    Milhouse (a0cc5c)

  31. re #23:

    “Zero tolerance” nearly always means “zero intelligence” will be applied.

    Great Line!

    re #24: i had read about it online in my regular sojourn, so that would indicate that it wasn’t being swept under the rug. At first i was disappointed Patterico did not address it, but it occured to me he may actually be working with this office.

    seeRpea (0cf003)

  32. People, who penalize US families for allowing children free to range alone in their neighborhood, must demand that thousands of central american parents that entrust their young children with “coyotes” through drug infested Mexico to cross the US border illegally to be charged as well with child neglect and endangerment.

    james hudson (934972)

  33. It may be selection bias, the fact that newsworthy events are by definition rare. But it seems that CPS bends over backward to keep poor and minority children with their parents, even when their parents end up killing them. But if middle-class white people do anything that prompts one phone call from a “concerned neighbor”, they get the full panoply of government force unleashed.

    It’s like how in Britain the criminals are too dangerous for the cops to mess with, so middle-class white people get to take the ride for any little thing.

    Gabriel Hanna (64d4e1)

  34. but katemiddleton keeps poppin out them royal piglets

    best sow that island ever had

    happyfeet (831175)

  35. The only justification for this action would be if a liberal had been discovered talking to them in the absence of an adult.

    in_awe (7c859a)

  36. That looks to be the case in Orange County, California, where the situation got so completely out of hand this spring that Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals issued an order disqualifying the entire Orange County District Attorney’s Office (that’s all 250 prosecutors) from continuing to prosecute a major death penalty case.

    Orange County has this terrible problem called “Not enough crime to keep the cops and DA busy.” There are petty politics around here but it is largely due to the peaceful nature of most of this county. There are a couple of ghetto-like areas with lots of illegals but nothing like the big blue cities. At one point we had a really serious guy as acting Sheriff after the previous guy for into big trouble with rich donors but the Supervisors hired the obligatory inexperienced female and the problem vanished from the newspapers.

    Mike K (90dfdc)

  37. If you’re going to stick your nose in at least do it all the way. Talk to the boy.
    What’s your name and such.
    Of course my mom would have left a key with the neighbor.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  38. Thank you Mike K. about Orange County.

    BfC (8661e2)

  39. — As a young boy, was your mom very strict?
    — Let’s get something straight, doctor. My mom was never a young boy.

    nk (dbc370)

  40. I was that kid, once. Rather than call the cops, the neighbors watched me for a while.

    So is the problem here the bureaucrat, or is the problem the neighbors who called the cops?

    aphrael (69b4f7) — 6/12/2015 @ 8:00 am

    Both

    Tanny O'Haley (c674c7)

  41. I think part of the problem is that many people don’t know their neighbors, I barely know my neighbors.

    Tanny O'Haley (c674c7)

  42. Unfortunately I can believe bad stories about CPS because of my personal experience.

    When I was divorced in 1996, I was given primary physical custody of our 3 children. My ex-wife got with some quack doctor who determined that my 9 year old son needed to be put on Ritalin because he was:

    1. Overly friendly.
    2. Cleared his throat a lot because of allergies.
    3. Though he received straight A’s in math, missed one math sequencing question.

    I took him to see a family psychologist, the school psychologist, the school psychiatrist, and 2 medical doctors, all of whom said my son did not need Ritalin. Yet the family services representative called me at work after I had taken my son off Ritalin. She screamed at me over the phone and told me that if I didn’t put him back on Ritalin, she would take my 3 children from me.

    She would not listen to me, she would not listen to facts, she would not let me speak to her supervisor. I finally told her to call my attorney and in the future all correspondence should go through my attorney. I did not have an attorney, but she fell for it and did not contact me again.

    I believe that a lot of bureaucrats are bullies who have not one shred of common sense.

    While we’re at it, when has a government bureaucracy been successful at anything other than growing government and making our lives miserable?

    Tanny O'Haley (c674c7)

  43. Stipulated that “kid playing in normal way” seems to be the new hotness for CPS kid grabs – but here I suspect there is more.

    There were a number of squirrely flags in the self-told tale of the mother; signs of omission and deflection. There are several that trip a cynics “wait a minute” wire.

    I can believe CPS did wrong, but I do not believe the children were taken because of a 90 minute playtime in the yard resulting from unavoidably detained parents; the lockout policy, defended with reasoning so ludicrous is suggests other reasons really guided it.

    SarahW (6f3980)

  44. Perhaps it’s time that the judge, social workers, and neighbors are named and shamed.

    I might recommend more violent reactions, but, in light of Patterico’s comments (Update), my speech is being suppressed 😀

    All jesting aside, they do need more than mere shaming. Government officials have no shame. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be government officials in this day and age.

    IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (225d0d)

  45. Updated with new info, by the way:

    http://reason.com/blog/2015/06/12/kidnapped-by-the-state-trouble-not-over

    IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (225d0d)

  46. — As a young boy, was your mom very strict?
    — Let’s get something straight, doctor. My mom was never a young boy.

    And today, this is much less likely to be true….

    IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (225d0d)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.5614 secs.