My response to “Child Protective Services Key to Lower Incarceration Rates” and the opinion of the best way to lower incarcerations includes the need to be empathetic, pervasive and comprehensive. In an effort to be as brief as possible, let’s first consider the need for lowering incarcerations to be top priority, as it directly affects the individuals who are the future of our community.
We must consider the fact that child abuse has evolved tremendously from the 1980s to the present. The child protection agency of the 1980s had to deal with situations that were deplorable and unheard of as it proceeded to protect our children. As we take a microscopic view of the situation decades later, we find the problems have not only intensified in number but in scope and sequence, as well.
Child abuse is no longer limited to the home but has filtered into other agencies and organizations intended to rectify or lessen the number of abuse cases. In many instances, victimized children and youths are provided refuge from the initial environment of abuse and/or neglect only to become placed into a newly assigned environment of the same or, in some cases, worse.
Already at the lower extreme of rankings, according to the Kids Count Survey, Louisiana most recently fell one spot to 47th in an annual national ranking of child well-being that looks at poverty, education and health access. Offenses against our children and youth now stem far beyond the home and have filtered into other areas formerly known as “safe havens” or “safety nets.”
Let us take under consideration that the failure to address the needs of vulnerable children and youth during numerous years has led us to, as indicated in the research, a threatening loss of the productive future of our communities and state.
In essence, the term “child protection” must be clearly defined as we move forward. Once we have concluded what the 21st century definition of child protection is, we then should and must work together to conclude what measures we must take to develop a systemic resolve. Most importantly, however, we must not limit the responsibility to one specific agency but to all entities actively reflecting a “heart” for our future.
Cynthia C. McClintock