The Ineffectiveness of Child Protective Services

October 18, 2012
By baby_sunshine BRONZE, Crawfordsville, Indiana
baby_sunshine BRONZE, Crawfordsville, Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Child Protective Services was established in 1974 to protect children from abuse and neglect. According to the American Humane Association, over three million cases of child abuse or neglect are reported every year. (American 1) Currently over 300,000 children are in foster care, due to involvement of Child Protective Services. In recent years, neglect and abuse fatalities have been rising because Child Protective Services is no longer able to handle the increasing number of cases which are being reported each year. With budget cuts, not all cases reported, and poorly trained social workers, Child Protective Services is simply unable to thoroughly investigate all cases. With a high turnover rate, Child Protective Services also makes many errors during the investigation and in the placement and protection of children.
Child Protective Services’ overall budget has dropped 10% in the last year. (Burstain 1) This has had a negative impact on the structure and integrity of Child Protective Services. The public sees the impact of the budget cuts in different ways such as failure in school, rise in crime among minors, and increased teen pregnancy. The government does not realize the effect that demographic statistics has on Child Protective Services. 16.5 out of every 1000 children are abused or neglected. Of cases reported, 47.3% are male and 50.7% are female. 49.7% are white, 23.1% African American, 17.4% Hispanic, and 9.8% other. Children with disabilities make up 8% of abused or neglected children. In 40% of cases, the mother is the only offender, and in 18.5% the father is the only offender. In 17.3% of cases, both parents abuse or neglect their children. (American 2) Low income and high crime communities are often the result of poor government spending. Child Protective Services does not have enough money to address causes and prevention, causing such a high neglect and abuse rate that they can no longer handle the outcome. If Child Protective Services had more money to focus on prevention, they would have less reports of abuse and neglect, and ultimately fulfill their purpose better.

Child Protective Services’ ineffectiveness is also the result of something that they cannot control. Many abuse and neglect victims do not report their mistreatment because of years of psychological abuse by parents addicted to drugs or alcohol. 62.8% of the cases reported to Child Protective Services deal with neglect, 16.6% with physical abuse, and medical and emotional abuse add up to 9.2%.(American 1-2) Many of the victims do not have the means to report their abuse, and many believe that help is not available to them. Still, some are told that they will receive worse treatment if they report their abuse. Also, 9.3% of abuse cases reported are of a sexual nature.(American 1-2) With these cases, some victims are embarrassed to report their abuse because of the permanent psychological effects. 2.1% of cases are related to abandonment or threats of harm. Sadly, many cases deal with more than one type of abuse or neglect. (American 1-2)
Most cases reported often have little evidence to back them up. Often, it is only the claims of a young child. This is not considered enough evidence to justify looking further into the report. Without proper evidence, caseworkers are forced to deny the victim help or justice. Too often, victims are turned away because their report does not have adequate evidence or they are not considered a reliable source of information. Social workers have little time, resources, and experience. This means that many social workers must try to decide which cases are worth investigating, though this may mean turning away several victims in need of help. “Agencies following suspected episodes of child abuse were seldom followed by improvement of household risk factors for future abuse- casting doubt on the agencies’ effectiveness, researchers stated” (Campbell 4).

Another major issue that Child Protective Services faces is the lack of well trained social workers. Social workers are often trained minimally and overworked. A high stress level in the workplace also contributes to the to the low success level of Child Protective Services. Social workers have little supervision and guidance on the most complicated and troublesome cases of abuse or neglect. Social workers have to mediate arguments, investigate reports, supervise parent visits, and appear in court to present evidence. They also must “identify the family’s strengths and needs and assess factors contributing to risk of maltreatment” (Salus 99). The low success rate also contributes to victims not reporting their abuse. They see what a low level of successful cases they have and feel that reporting their abuse will cause more harm than good. People can help improve their communities by emphasizing the need for abuse and neglect prevention programs. The best way to deal with the mistreatment of children is to send parents to parenting classes, and abusers to anger management classes. Placement of children in temporary or permanent care, other than their parents, should be a last resort used only when the abusers do not improve or are not willing to improve.

“In households where child abuse was sustained, ‘modifiable risk factors’- such as social support, family functioning, and child behavioral problems remain largely unchanged even after Child Protective Services intervened.” (Salus 106) Child Protective Services is ineffective because of their limited resources, high turnover rates, and poorly trained caseworkers. Child Protective Services will continue to fail unless their procedures and resources are improved upon. Many people believe that Child Protective Services as it exists today needs to be taken out of use, and a new program focusing on prevention put in its place.

The author's comments:
This is a review of CPS. Many do not know how ineffective it is as it exists today.

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