Parents who won't discipline their children because they're afraid of CPS

CPS = child protective services, if you don’t know.

Do these people really exist? I keep hearing and reading about them, and can’t think of ANYONE who got CPS called on them for what turned out to be legitimate discipline. I’ve known a few people who worked in the field, and they’ve said that if it happens, they have never seen it. I can think of a few people who were concerned about having a CPS file, and for some very good reasons (moving ex-convicts in with the kids, denying the children medical care, that kind of thing).

I’m talking about things like parents who are hesitant to tell a child no or enforce rules because the child has said, “I’ll call CPS on you!” and they bend. Certainly there has to be more to that story. After all, only OTHER PEOPLE’S kids misbehave, and only OTHER PEOPLE abuse their children in the name of discipline.

And like I’ve said many times here and elsewhere, maybe I lead a really sheltered life, but I rarely see really horribly behaved kids out in public, and when I do, the parents are almost always acting worse than the kids.

ETA: I’m also aware that some people, like my mother when we were growing up, define discipline as “visible injuries”. That’s not what I’m talking about; the word is actually more about guidance than punishment.

A teaching assistant at my kids school got CPS called on her for grabbing an unruly child by the arm and telling her to “Stop IT!”. She didn’t hurt the kid, didn’t scream at her. The principal said she was obligated to report it. Now that TA will never teach again after for some incident that happened 1 month after completing her degree.

A friend got arrested because he gave his kid a swat on the butt (no marks at all) and the kid told the ex-wife he hit her. Cops showed up at his house, asked if he put his hands on the kid, he said he gave her a light swat because she wouldn’t do what she was told, and on went the cuffs.

So yeah, I don’t find it unbelievable at all that someone’s life could get fuck up on an unsubstantiated charge.

I know of a situation where a woman got CPS called on her by a neighbor who didn’t like her, because the neighbor saw her carry her groceries into the house while leaving her baby in the car seat. It cost her and her husband over $3,000 in legal bills to get their name cleared. My reply to this story was, “And meanwhile, there’s a house over on the next block with a meth lab in it, and those kids weren’t able to get help because of crap like this.”

Of course, it’s possible that this isn’t the whole story, just like the stories Zoid told might not be.

I worked in CPS and yes, we were called about what turned out to be legitimate discipline. We were also called about a failure to provide proper clothing and hygiene which turned out to be that grandma thought her granddaughter should have an elaborate hairstyle every day (since mom didn’t work) and that pants rolled up at the cuff did not qualify as adequate clothing. The winner was the call we got about an apartment where no children lived.

But here's the thing- those calls, while causing inconvenience,didn't wreak havoc on anyone's lives. They involved one or two home visits, an interview of the reporting party and possibly with school or medical staff. It didn't cause anyone to spend $3000 to clear their name, no one was handcuffed and no one was banned from teaching. Not based on an unsubstantiated report in my state, and I doubt in any state. In fact, in my state ( and probably most others) unsubstantiated reports are expunged. Those other issues come about when the report is substantiated , which does not always involve a loss of custody, arrest, or even mandatory parenting classes. Sometimes it's just to document that yes, mom left the baby alone in a hot car for 20 minutes while she unloaded groceries so that she can't plead ignorance if it happens again. And you might spend $3000 clearing your name in that case- if for some reason you needed to. Most people don't.

jebus - are you in Ct? One of the jerkier neighbors called CPS on us … and we don’t have kids. I do have a passel of goddaughters, the youngest is now 12 years old, but the time frames in question none of the girls was visiting, the kid in question was a boy and not a blue eyed blond. :rolleyes:

What was the story on your no kid visit? If you can tell us that is… :dubious:

Nope, not in CT. The call was about kids constantly screaming as if they were being beaten, or something like that. It turned out that two mentally disabled adults lived there with their parents and they did scream, but there was no reason to think they were being beaten. The neighbors ( and I’m sure it was neighbors although I’m equally sure it was an anonymous call) may really have thought there were kids being beaten, or they may have hoped calling CPS would end the screaming, or it may have been retaliation for having to hear the screaming…

I don’t recall all the details, but this didn’t happen during the summer, and it probably didn’t take 20 minutes. It was the kind of thing where she carried a load of groceries into the house, maybe taking a couple of trips of a few steps, and then unbuckled the baby. Truthfully, the baby was probably safer in that car than it would have been, crawling around in the house.

What happens when you get called and when you go to inquire the resident tells you to fuck off?

No way in hell I’dtalk to CPS at my door for any reason whatsoever . I don’t even answer my door but if they stopped by when I was outside I would enter the house with no response to them at all. I’m sure the vast majority of CPS employees want to and actually do good work but fuck if I care to find out if the one in front of me isn’t the closeted fascist. I cant think of any benefit to speaking to CPS unless compelled. Is there?

No, they don’t. There’s your answer.

Do CPS get called for stupid reasons? Yes, as people have answered. But are there parents scared of disciplining their kids for fear of CPS? No, it’s bullshit.

So, you keep ‘hearing and reading about them’, but then go on to say you never hear about it or know anybody who it has happened to?

What a load of crock. :rolleyes:

Anyways, if the US CPS people are anything like the Australian version, it’s damned hard to get CPS involved even when horrendous abuse and neglect are right there in front of yer’ eyes. An appeal to commonsense would indicate that devoting time and energy pursuing frivolous complaints would be futile.

What actually happens to you if a report is “substantiated”? I assume it doesn’t count as a criminal conviction. Do “substantiated” reports show up on background checks? How does it affect one’s current or future life? Does having one make it more difficult or impossible to obtain a teaching license, adopt, become a foster parent, become a cop, licensed child care worker, nurse, etc.? Is it like a traffic ticket where it “falls off your record” after X years if you stay out of trouble and/or attend responsible citizen classes and even while it’s still on your record it’s considered no big deal unless you get one every month, or are there octogenarians who live on the edge of society because they got a substantiated CPS report at age 25 and now nobody will hire them or rent to them, dirty child neglecter!

What happened if they told me to fuck off? Depends on the circumstances.If i was sent out on anonymous call,probably nothing.If there was some evidence that there was actual neglect or abuse, I’d go to court and seek a warrant for you to produce your kids. In one case where a parent unsuccessfully tried to hide the existence of some of the kids (the siblings asked where their sisters were).If i had reason to believe kids were in immediate danger, I’d call the police.
People didn’t have to let me in and I was surprised that almost everyone did.

As far as any benefit to letting me in?Not really-I suppose if the case actually got to court it might be helpful to be seen as cooperative.

All of the following is specific to my state.

What happens with a substantiated report depends very much on the specifics? If it appears to be a one-time incident (pills left out,child poisoned,parents will never make that mistake again) then that’s the end of it. Other cases require more services,such as drug treatment or homemaker services or parenting skills classes, Other cases result in foster care placement.

The substantiated report is not a criminal conviction,but there may be a related conviction, It doesn’t show up on a criminal history, but some jobs and becoming a foster parent require a check of the state registry and it will show up there, If i recall correctly Reports are expunged when the youngest child named turns 18

People should treat CPS like they would any police. Never talk to them if they are asking questions unless compelled. And only then with a lawyer. Thee is absolutely no upside. Its even worse because the powers wielded by CPS can be exercised with lower standards than probable cause and the consequences enacted with a lower bar than beyond a reasonable doubt. And if you are on the wrong end of it then you lose your kids. Fuck that shit.

That being said, in response to the OP - I discipline my kids when necessary without giving CPS a thought at all.

doreen, What does a substantiated report entail?

OP, I know of at least one couple who are very fearful of a cps report. They do not often discipline their offspring in public.

A substantiated report is one where there is some credible evidence of neglect or abuse. In my state , corporal punishment or spanking * is not in itself considered neglect.

  • which is what I assume is meant by discipline in this thread. I can’t imagine anyone is afraid of CPS for imposing time-outs or withdrawing privileges

I think the fear is unfounded. My wife works for CPS, and she has far more situations where abuse is happening but because parents are lawyering up its difficult for her to resolve the issue easily. She has told me that parents are permitted to spank there kid as long as it doesn’t leave marks, so I can only assume the anecdote zoid gave was missing information. People getting arrested for simply spanking their kid seems pretty far-fetched.

As for the couple that spent $3,000 to clear their name, why waste the money on lawyers? CPS will interview the parents and come by the house to see if there is any neglect. If there isn’t, they close the case. CPS reports are not open to the public; its not like some nosy person can do some digging and find out that someone reported them allegedly leaving their baby in the carseat.

I have no doubt his wife embellished the story quite a bit to the cops but once they confirmed he did in fact hit the kid their attitude was “fuck it - arrest him and let the court figure it out.”

Most of the more draconian CPS stories I’ve heard have ended up being BS on further examination.

Because their cases necessarily involve children, the CPS itself can’t release information about what what happened. The parents, on the other hand, have every incentive to tell their friends and neighbors how their victims of insane, sociopathic bureaucrats. No one wants to fess-up to abuse/neglect of their own children, often they don’t even admit it to themselves. The end result is you get CPS stories that are insanely one-sided, with Jr. getting taken away because Dad looked at him funny or made him eat all his vegetables or whatever.

My wife’s friend recently had one of her kids wander onto the neighbor’s front lawn and the neighbor called CPS. No long-lasting consequences, but she had to be “monitored” by CPS for a while, which she naturally found extremely stressful.

There is a school of thought which maintains that some CPS workers, especially in certain areas, tend to come from lower class backgrounds in which child abuse is fairly common and they resent the fact that middle class parents do not abuse as frequently, and as a consequence are more apt to find abuse when dealing with middle class parents. I can’t vouch for this, but it’s out there.

What has a higher likelihood of being true, is the notion that CPS hassles middle (and upper) class borderline abusers more because they can. When dealing with lower class people, their options are fewer, so they sort of give up, while with middle and upper class parents you can put them through the ropes and they’ll take it.

This is internally inconsistent.

The fact that CPS has all this power is all the more reason to avoid making them suspicious of you or otherwise alienating them.