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In this world, there will always be something refreshing about children: innocent, wholesome, naïve and with whole lives filled with journeys and memories ahead of them. However, not all children are so fortunate.
Hence, the 2009 case of the 18-month-old girl who died in a car accident on the way to the emergency room after she fell out of her bed. Rather than having her in her car seat, she was sitting on her aunt’s lap when another vehicle ran the stop sign, hitting the car and killing the toddler. After social workers looked further into the case, it was revealed there was neglect in the toddler’s home and her two other brothers were placed in foster care for a year.
The case has brought to light several considerations that the child welfare system should be acting upon. Finally, the California Supreme Court has decided to do just that.
According to the Associated Press’ statement last week, “The California Supreme Court ruled that a “breach of ordinary care” with fatal results is enough reason for child welfare agencies to act because it poses an inherent concern for the safety of siblings, and that Welfare officials can take children from parents who negligently cause the death of a son or daughter, such as failing to place them in a car seat, even if there was no criminal harm.”
Regarding the 2009 case, Assistant County Counsel James M. Owens, who represented the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services stated, “It’s a big case for us, and it is a big case for the child welfare community.”
However, several parents and residents of the state of California are upset about this ruling and are speaking out about it. In the past few days, the California Supreme Court has received countless letters regarding the ruling, including that of one Beverly Hills resident, Stella Resnick:
“I am appalled at the misguided ruling of the California Supreme Court to allow social workers to place children in foster care after a car accident in which a sibling died as a result of not being restrained by a car seat or seat belt. The measures taken by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services have nothing to do with child welfare or protection. This is state-sanctioned child abuse with life-altering consequences. Removing a child from parents who have no history of neglect or abuse and placing them in foster care compounds their tragedy. Case workers put children at greater risk by seizing them from parents who love and fight for them, only to place them in the care of strangers.”
While residents are outraged at the ruling, statistics for child abuse speak another tune. According to childhelp.org, five children die a day as a result of some form of abuse while every 13 seconds a child is abused in America alone. And of those that die as a result of abuse, 80% of them are under the age of four. So when we think of children, their innocence, naivety, and futures, we need to think about their safety and well-being before anything else.