When They See Us Showcases Major Obstacles That Still Exist.

I wish I could tell you that cases like the Central Park 5 no longer exist. I wish I could tell you that all investigations are done with fairness, but I won’t insult your intelligence today. The movie When They See Us is a painful reminder that not everyone with a badge or a title can be trusted to work for the betterment of their community.

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I’m sure if you have been following my blog, you know my story. I turned in my badge over a year ago after I saw railroading techniques being used to trap minorities. It takes a strong person to go against their livelihood. In my situation, I transferred from another region because I wanted to move my family to a smaller town. I thought a smaller town would offer better people and a better foundation for my girls.

After I got here, I immediately started seeing issues. I came from a big city and investigations there weren’t easy. I was nearly raped, threatened by a weapon, and was even surrounded by racist at one point. Yet, I loved my job and I could see the good in helping out my community. I had a supervisor who clearly looked out for her community, she cared about trying to help children, and she cared about helping their families learn to rehabilitate in difficult situations.

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I came here with background in removing children from parents using cocaine and meth. I also had the removals that resulted in removals from people who no longer wanted to be parents. After I got here, my very first case was a case involving an African American mother from another state. She had relatives here and a mother hours away. Not only did she have a mother hours away, the children had a father who was trying to see how he could get in route to pick up his children.

While I was trying to work with the family on finding a solution my supervisor was trying to push a removal on the mother due to her getting arrested. Keep in mind, there was an aunt living in the household and people who could have been here within hours. The policemen looked at me and asked me if I was really going to let that happen, and I reaffirmed them that I would do everything in my power to stop it.

After going back and forward with my boss I was able to get her to work with the family until we were able to get the father or grandmother headed in our direction. The thing about removals is that they often do not get overturned. They last for at least a year and children are forced to stay in foster care. So, if there is a family member, we were taught to do everything within our power to unite that child with their family, but in this unit they didn’t do that. Even after this case was ready for closure, and the female had her children back in another state my supervisor was trying to get the state to take action against the mom. The state politely let us know that the mother was doing good and to bud out at this point.

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I have always been very careful about removals due to the stress that it places on the children. I removed only when I needed to and questioned anything that looked fishy even when it wasn’t my removal. A few cases later I came across a female who had just gotten out of the hospital. She tested positive for marijuana. Marijuana is not something that we remove for in the state of Texas. People get a quitting marijuana packet due to it not being crack or meth.

When I gave her an oral swab her medications that she had been given at surgery showed up. Keep in mind she had just been released from the hospital and her urine didn’t have any traces of those drugs nor the baby’s prior to or while giving birth. I still went on and confirmed with the nurses as to the type of medication that this lady was given. My supervisor wanted me to remove once again due to her results coming back positive even though she knew she had just had a c-section.

She swore up and down that a positive meant she had used something. I told her to google the medication and see what positives would show up and she did, but she still didn’t want to believe me or the medical professionals. I informed her that I wouldn’t be doing a removal because this mother wasn’t doing anything that warranted a removal. I even gave her another drug test which came back negative two days later.

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I have always had issues with investigators who removed and placed kids into foster care without trying to locate family members. She and others stated that it took too long. The process could take hours, but it was still worth it if you could keep the family together and maintain safety. She talked about how she would talk only to PDs who would lean towards removals because she didn’t want to do family placements. Again this is killing the families, but she didn’t care. Once she joked about being the Removal Queen. All I could hear was I’m messed up so many families due to not wanting to put in extra time on family placements.

We already knew that in most cases that minorities were targeted by false calls. Did you know that only 15 percent of CPS cases are real abuse? That means that 85 percent are lies and anyone can call in on people. While we have had some cases that were real, we have had so many more that were nothing more than vendettas.

Here’s the cold hard truth about cases in the black community and Spanish communities. When people look to remove often times these families will not be able to get their children back. If they have any sort of record dealing from old cases, criminal cases or people in the house with any central registry case they will be voided out as a potential caregiver. There are so many minorities with charges on them due to possession of marijuana, criminal trespass or failure to identify. Then if that doesn’t get them there’s a case on them for being victims of domestic violence.

They changed the regulation on domestic violence about 1 yr or 2 yrs ago. Prior to that if you were involved in a domestic violence relationship and were a victim they could put a reason to believe on you. So, the victim would get victimized twice. In some states they still do this, they still charge the victim with a reason to believe which knocks them out for any job dealing with children, or elderly. It also prevents them from taking family members if children are ever removed in the future.

I finally quit my job because of a case that should have been a removal, but my boss didn’t want to believe the children who were the victims in the case. I worked the case with at least three other law officials from two other states. The parent was a runner and drug abuser. She was grooming her children to be sexually abused while their father was looking for them. The father spent time in prison for manslaughter only because the state didn’t have a law on the books for self defense. I found out everything about the dad. He was a good hardworking citizen, paid his dues, took parenting classes, and even earned certificates. He had held down a job, his only true crime was being black and trying to stop a white man from killing him.

I found out that he had been looking for his children for years while the mother was letting them get beaten and molested. So, I let him take his children and my boss knew this, but you better believe she lied to the program manager about it. The program manager who was just as crazy as she was wanted us to get the kids back. Here’s the issue, because they didn’t want to remove those kids, they would have went back to the mom and the abuser. So, there was no way in hell I was going to do that. I called the dad told him to get a lawyer. Needless to say, anything else would have been just as crazy as the prior cases, so I quit soon after that case.

This father wasn’t going to be able to protect his children because of a conviction he got due to him trying to defend himself. He was already victimized by the system once and then we were going to let his children become victims of the system again. If you are poor, black or mentally ill the system will not work for you as it would for someone with a different stack of cards. Your only hope is to get a person who cares. When They See Us might be about the Central Park 5, but the issue is that, the stain of racism has soaked so deep into the fabric of what and who we are. It is in outcomes of child abuse cases, criminal cases and even family courts in some arenas. We have to understand that the fight isn’t over. There’s still work to be done.

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Knowing How To Spot Munchausen Syndrome

Many of you have probably seen the show on Hulu called The Act. As an ex child abuse investigator, I have been pretty vocal on knowing what and when to report child abuse. This morning we are going to talk about learning how to report abuse and when normal isn’t normal.

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One of my most emotional cases dealt with a young mother who nearly mastered the art of deception. The case was centered around a toddler who was subject to multiple surgeries and needless test. By the time I entered the picture the mother had started keeping a visual log of photos detailing her abuse. I still remember seeing the enormous stack of photos and having a chill of sudden fear run down my spine.

I’ll never know why she kept so many photos of her son detailing every sick moment. My gut tells me that she was going to use those photos as a reason to assign death at a later date. We are talking about hundreds of photos with nothing but sickness and a detailed walk down torture lane. She knew the right words, she knew the right people, but she got a little too overconfident in the end.

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In the end I got my butt chewed off by our lawyers and the judge because I did something most investigators would never do, I went against the hospital by forcing their hand in learning the truth. When I got the case this child was slowly dying, he wasn’t gaining weight, and he was on a pure liquid diet. I had to threaten hospital social workers in order to keep him safe, but by the end of three weeks, I had all medical proof I needed.

His vitals rebounded, he gained well into the 50th percentile and he was now starting to eat by mouth. The child I saw weeks ago couldn’t sit up and he couldn’t wave at me. Now he was now able to walk around the hospital room and give me his toy trucks. We were awarded custody of him, but we couldn’t get the DA to sign off on charges of child abuse due to them not knowing much about the Munchausen Syndrome.

Two things could have saved this kid a lot of pain and heartache. The first thing is having a medical professional call in a case prior to him being nearly 4 or 5. By the time I stepped in, he had already been to quite a few hospitals. All of the doctors said they suspected something was off. They were taking notes, but the mother moved from place to place.

Correspondence is key when you are dealing with someone who suffers from this syndrome. If these hospitals would have linked up a year ago, this child would have been removed a lot sooner. Another provider stated that she felt like they were being forced into performing surgeries by the parent. The parent knew just enough medical terminology to fake symptoms and syndromes.

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This child was surrounded by medical personnel but it took years for someone to call in the abuse. Remember you work for the child. If you are an investigator , be diligent. I know the department presses you to close cases due to numbers, but life surpasses any number system. If you feel like something feels wrong, investigate it. Do not close that case until YOU are sure that child is safe.

Lastly, never assume that certain people can’t be abusers. If you saw little Todd walking and eating three months ago and now every time you see him he has a sippy cup in hand, ask why. If you babysit this child and he eats for you, but the mother swears that he can’t eat, ask why. If you still feel like something is off, call CPS. You just might be saving a life.

The Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Impact On Poor People

We live in a nation that offers great promise to those people who are willing to work hard. Ask any self made millionaire or billionaire and they will tell you, nothing short of hard work helped to enhance their lifestyle. My parents grew up working in the potato fields with their parents until they grew of age. They were able to save enough money working in those fields to buy the land we now call home.

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I never thought about the meaning of hard work growing up because it was just part of our life. My father would get off of his job and come home and farm the land. It was normal for me to help with picking greens, peas, and even snapping beans because it was our way of living. As an adult, I now understand that my parents were doing what any other hard working person was doing, they were trying to make sure we were able to survive.

As I would grow older, I would start to listen to music aimed at bringing awareness to poverty and different lifestyles. After I got married, I found out for the first time what it felt like to live on a budget. Budgets weren’t fun, but being hungry wasn’t either. I soon learned that college was our only way to securing a better life. We were determined to make it work for our children just as our parents were determined to make it work for us.

In both instances hard work was the only way to make a difference. After my husband got out of the Army, I started working for the shelter system. I was able to see women take as little as 30 percent of their incomes and buy condos for stability. It was enlightening and encouraging to see how people wanted to rise from the ashes of poverty and forge a new future.

While working in investigations I ran into many kinds of people. I ran into those who were trying to make a difference and those who had given up.

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I saw apartment complexes full of drugs, prostitution, abuse, and other criminal activity. I witnessed complexes who had seen mass removals of children that once frequented the area. Many of these people lived like they were in third world countries. The apartments were run down, pee soaked the sidewalks and the walls. People could be seen walking from complex to complex with beers in hand, all before noon. These people lived in free housing.

Sometimes, when we give free housing to those who can do better, we help to increase the likelihood of drug usage. I’m not telling you a stat, I am telling you the tale of two complexes. Many of the removals that came out of those areas dealt with families, living in free housing. I once had a manager come out and ask me if we could just bring a bus and round up all the kids! I looked at her and frowned, but after I got inside the area, I understood the reason. The drug problem had gotten so out of control that it had started to roll over into other properties.

We couldn’t even get policemen to come with us in those areas. I once had to enter an apartment with another investigator that was riddled with drugs and weapons. Two hours after I made it home, police officers called and asked if I made it out okay. I know Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might be telling the world that she wants this wonderful idea of utopia to exist for all people, but the fact is, people need work. I’m sure Ms. Cortez went to college because she wanted to work. I find it a little hypocritical to tell others to be lazy when you know working is the key to a healthy future.

If you want to help people, you tell them how they can rise above their current situation. You give them hope by bringing in new programs to help assist with personal growth. We should be helping our neighborhoods to do better and we should be talking about the need for HIV tents that pop up like flowers. It’s time to get real about helping those who need help, or politely get out of the way of those of us who are trying to help people do better in life.

Summer School My Way

My children can’t go to summer school, so I will bring it to them this year. It appears that both of my children have inherited my husband’s disdain for history. I happen to love history, life science, social science, and even managed to take extra classes in those areas in college. So, it is safe to say we will start today with a lesson on how it all started.

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This morning we will start off talking about Pangaea, Continental Drift theory, Southern/Northern Hemisphere and how we all started. If you are wondering how and why we decided that our children needed this lesson, it is because one of our lovely children thought California was in Texas. It really was a wtf moment. We have helped with history homework in the past, but for some reason that lack of knowledge never came to surface.

After we made it to the store, my husband politely asked me if I would teach our children this summer exclusively over the subjects they seem to be low in, and of course, I was delighted. This morning I will work on my lesson plan, and try to help the girls better understand the world as we know it. I knew those classes would matter one day!

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I have science and history covered. However, I need help with drama. Both girls are in theater and both are on the fence about their drama classes. I would like to do something for them to help them gain more confidence in reading plays and memorizing them. Does anyone know of a good method for studying drama?

The Dangers Of Keeping A Child In A Volatile Situation

Often times we divorce our spouses if the situation becomes too volatile. However, how many of us move our children away from bullying situations when they become volatile? As a mother of a child who suffered from extreme bullying, I would warn you about keeping that child in the same school. Right after my daughter’s attack we moved her away from the school, but when she started middle school the next school year the girls all filtered into that school. The counselors at the school were a complete joke. They told me that my daughter was no longer getting bothered and that they even called the children into the office to see if anyone was talking to her.

One morning I watched Ariana from the corner of my eye silently cry as we drove her to school. Something just told me to not go home so I waited. After a few minutes I drove around and then I found her hiding in between two buildings with her books pressed up against her chest. She was in a tight spot crying and scared to move. I got her attention and told her to come here. She walked to the car with tears still running down her cheek and talked about being sorry. She said she just couldn’t face anyone it was too much. I nodded and told her to get back into the car and we drove around the school and then I enrolled her out. I enrolled her in a private school a few miles down the street. She was loved at the school and did really well. She was a favorite in her French class and was well liked by many of her teachers, but there was the issue of interacting with children that still needed to be dealt with.

We still lived in Garland, so running into those children was an issue. Every time we thought we were doing better an encounter with one of them would send her crashing once more. Soon her Freshman year of high school was calling. She wanted to go to her home high school which meant she would be around those girls again. I wasn’t for it, but I finally decided if she felt ready, I would let her try once more. She was scared out of her mind her first day of school. She had started second guessing the idea of going to the high school, but she wanted to try it out.

She came home that day with this corky smile on her face. She had discovered she was a magnet for boys. She also said one of the girls that used to bully her, came up and said hi. She talked about being blown away and she didn’t know how to take it at first. In the common weeks she would talk to numerous people and even stand up to bullying against others, she was no longer the target. She was still known as the one who was attacked, but it wasn’t something that the children often talked about. She didn’t get invited anywhere so her nights were pretty much always lonely. She was still having a really hard time making friends, so we all decided that perhaps we just needed a new beginning.

We moved two maybe three hours away from that area. She was finally able to do things like go to games with people, go to eateries, and even to the movies. Ariana was able to have a life because we got her out of that broken environment. You see bullying is very mental and I think keeping the children in the environment hurts them more than we know. We still deal with social interaction issues, but she’s no longer constantly by herself. We have to make sure our children aren’t isolating. In many of the incidents with bullied children turning to violence or committing suicide they often isolate and target certain children. We have to make sure that we are doing all we can to repair the damage that has been done by the bullying. As parents, we can’t take the position that it will make them stronger to make them stay.

In Ariana’s medical record it had chest contusion, aggravated assault, leg injury, but it never had a broken spirit. We were ready for the physical stuff, but it was the mental stuff that nearly shattered my daughter into pieces. Talk about it with your children and truly ask how they are doing. Take notice of behaviors that could be problematic and above all else, tell them you love them.

Do You Know What Your Children Do When You Aren’t Around?

My daughter and her friend went to a movie over the weekend. I like to snoop around and found this. She and her friend are hanging out in the theater playing cops and robbers! It’s safe to say no more movies will be in her near future. At least she was honest, I would have denied it! Because she can hardly been recognized, but we know our children. Thanks to Instagram for being the kid police. We are talking about this little one!

Another Episode of Momville

Yesterday my daughter came in with another script from her theater class. She has loved theater for a long time and I really think it has helped her work through some of her issues. However, she still gets the occasional blues in regards to being social. She talks about not fitting in and hating the fact that nobody wants to do anything with her. In her mind she’s ugly and stupid because of her ADHD. We can tell her a million times that that isn’t the case and that she’s wonderful, but she just doesn’t see it.

Anyway, back to Tuesday. As her teacher was handing out scripts, she also assigned parts for the kids to read and Ariana’s partner decided he would publicly voice his discomfort in being paired with my daughter. So, after she came home and put her bag on the table, she walked into the computer room. I asked about her school day and that’s when she told me about the little creep who pretty much stated he wouldn’t work with her.

I don’t know if I handled the situation right, but I told her not to worry and informed her that I would help her learn both lines. I know nothing about theater. I stayed away from it, but I read lines with her last night. I played the part of the guy and she mostly corrected me, because I sucked! However, she sounded great and we are going to do it again tonight. I guess my question is, should I be making her learn both lines? I mean, I just don’t want her to get a bad grade if he doesn’t want to learn his part. What do you do in this situation? Can she even benefit from learning both lines?