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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

People that cannot – or will not – provide even the most basic of care, do not deserve to have children left with them for even 5 minutes

On Tuesday I heard a news story where a young child, on Vancouver Island, was put at SERIOUS risk by … a drug-related explosion that rocked an apartment building in Nanaimo.  “These types of incidents place all occupants within the apartment building at risk, along with attending first responders and people walking past”, Cpl. Jon Stuart said

That led me to question and wonder what is really being done to protect young vulnerable children in the care of parents unable, or unwilling, to provide a safe environment from children to grow, learn, and thrive.

I feel very certain that I am going to raise the hackles and ire, of many, however, I am going to make the following comments any way. 

I believe the civil liberties industry has been at the forefront of pushing the rights of parents well past any reasonable, or logical, point that makes any sense.  Several years ago I found out that the care of children, and what constitutes acceptable parenting, is based on the standards of the community-- this from a Social Worker.

My question is, who determines what those parenting standards should be? 

Where they are now is NOT what I, and probably the vast majority of people, would consider to be acceptable.  And if that indeed is true, then why are everyday people NOT having input in to what acceptable community standards should be?

The only reason I can determine for that, is because they DON’T want the input of everyday people … especially those who are in the civil rights industry.

The rights of irresponsible parents / caregivers, trumps those of children.  Why Do I say that? Read on:

Alcohol (wine, beer, or liquor) is the leading known preventable cause of
developmental and physical birth defects in the United States.  When a woman drinks alcohol during pregnancy, she risks giving birth to a child who will pay the price — in mental and physical deficiencies — for his or her entire life.  Yet many pregnant women do drink alcohol. It's estimated that each year in the United States, 1 in every 750 infants is born with a pattern of physical, developmental, and functional problems referred to as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), while another 40,000 are born with fetal alcohol effects (FAE).

* Mental Health Problems, the most prevalent secondary disability, experienced by 94% of the full sample.  During childhood, 60% of children with FASD have ADHD.  During adulthood, most adults with FASD have clinical depression.  The study revealed that 23% of the adults had attempted suicide, and 43% had threatened to commit suicide.

* Disrupted School Experience (suspension or expulsion or drop out), was experienced by 43% of children of school age.  By the time students with FAE reach adulthood, the rate of disrupted school experience peaks at 70%.  Common school problems include: not paying attention; incomplete homework; can't get along with peers; disruptive in class; disobeying school rules; talking back to the teacher; fighting; and truancy.

* Trouble with the Law (involvement with police, charged or convicted of crime), was experienced by 42% of those in the study, and by about 60% of those age 12 and over.  The most common first criminal behavior reported was shoplifting.  The most common crimes committed (by almost half of individuals with FASD age 12-20) were crimes against persons (theft, burglary, assault, murder, domestic violence, child molestation, running away), followed by property damage; possession/selling; sexual assault; and vehicular crimes.

* Confinement (inpatient treatment for mental health, alcohol/drug problems, or incarceration for crime), experienced by 60% of those age 12 and over.  Over 40% of adults with FASD had been incarcerated; about 30% of adults with FASD were confined to a mental institution; and about 20% had been confined for substance abuse treatment.

* Inappropriate Sexual Behavior was reported in 45% of the those age 12 and over, and 65% of adult males with FAE.  This includes only sexual behaviors that had been repeatedly problematic or for which the individual had been incarcerated or treated.  It is thought that the actual incidence of inappropriate sexual behavior is much higher, and not always reported by the individual or the family due to embarrassment or fear of being reported to authorities.  Problem sexual behaviors most common with FASD include: sexual advances; sexual touching; promiscuity; exposure; compulsions; voyeurism; masturbation in public; incest; sex with animals; and obscene phone calls.

* Alcohol/Drug Problems were experienced by 30% of individuals age 12 and over.  Of the adults with FAE, 53% of males and 70% of females experienced substance abuse problems.  This is more than 5 times that of the general population.

“It’s all about the framing,” says Susan Boyd, a professor of law and drug policy at the University of Victoria. “Here’s this vulnerable fetus or baby who’s being threatened by the mother’s selfish actions. If we think about it that way, we don’t need to figure out why the women are using drugs in the first place, and helping them get treatment, because it’s their fault.”

Mounties have launched a criminal probe into a drug-related explosion that rocked an apartment building in Nanaimo Tuesday, sending a man to hospital with severe burns.  A 19-year-old woman suffered minor burns while a child in the apartment was unharmed, according to Nanaimo RCMP. The 31-year-old man remains in hospital for treatment.  Nanaimo Fire Rescue and police were called to the blast in the 3200-block of Rock City Road at around 9:30 p.m., and investigators quickly deemed it suspicious.  The explosion was later determined to be caused by the production of a controlled substance, RCMP said.

Two areas of concern are the harm caused by prenatal drug exposure and the harm caused to children of any age by exposure to illegal drug activity in their homes or environment.  There is increasing concern about the negative effects on children when parents or other members of their households abuse alcohol or drugs or engage in other illegal drug-related activity, such as the manufacture of methamphetamines in home-based laboratories. Many States have responded to this problem by expanding the civil definition of child abuse or neglect to include this concern.

Specific circumstances that are considered child abuse or neglect in some States include:
• Manufacturing a controlled substance in the presence of a child or on premises occupied by a child
• Exposing a child to, or allowing a child to be present where, chemicals or equipment for the manufacture of controlled substances are used or stored
• Selling, distributing, or giving drugs or alcohol to a child
• Using a controlled substance that impairs the caregiver’s ability to adequately care for the child
• Exposing a child to the criminal sale or distribution of drugs

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a group of problems that occur in a newborn who was exposed to addictive opiate drugs while in the mother’s womb.  Neonatal abstinence syndrome occurs because a pregnant woman takes opiate or narcotic drugs such as heroin, codeine, oxycodone (Oxycontin) methadone or buprenorphine.  These and other substances pass through the placenta that connects the baby to its mother in the womb. The baby becomes addicted along with the mother.  At birth, the baby is still dependent on the drug. Because the baby is no longer getting the drug after birth, symptoms of withdrawal may occur.  Alcohol and other drugs used during pregnancy can also cause problems in the baby. Babies of mothers who use other addictive drugs (nicotine, amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, marijuana,) may have long-term problems. However, there is no clear evidence of a neonatal abstinence syndrome for these drugs.

Being born into suffering is becoming ever more common as research shows a continuing surge in drug-dependent infants amid a national epidemic of pain pill and now heroin abuse, with no end in sight.
Infants (such as Leopoldo) cry piercingly and often. They suffer vomiting, diarrhea, feeding difficulties, low-grade fevers, seizures — and even respiratory distress if they're born prematurely. They're extra-sensitive to noise and light, so NICUs must be kept dark and quiet. Treatment includes declining doses of morphine and comfort measures like swaddling and rocking to calm them. For these babies, the slow withdrawal from drugs is their first experience of the world

Over the next decade, she gave birth to a disabled son, lived in a car and was jailed five times for theft, credit-card fraud and other crimes she said she committed for drug money. Released from jail last September, she was using heroin again by the end of the month. In October, she discovered she was pregnant with Makenzee.  But Kennedy kept using, eventually injecting 30 five-dollar bags of heroin a day. When she wasn’t shooting heroin, she was out searching for it.  “Stay high all day. Wake up and do the whole process over again because I wouldn’t have nothing left in the morning,” she said.  After a month of painful withdrawal that bunched her body into a tight ball, after tremors and diarrhea and sleeplessness and difficulty eating, Makenzee Kennedy went home to her bed in a drug rehab facility to celebrate a milestone: turning 2 months old.

Like I stated at the start of this commentary, “My question is, who determines what those parenting standards should be?  Where they are now are NOT what I, and I believe the vast majority of people, would consider to be acceptable.  And if that indeed is true, then why are everyday people NOT having input in to acceptable community standards?

If our children are our number one priority, then it’s well past the time we demanded changes to what the government and civil rights lawyers have decided is acceptable.  What is now considered acceptable community standards is WRONG!  VERY wrong! 

People that cannot – or will not – provide even the most basic of care, do not deserve to have children left with them for even 5 minutes, never mind being given the opportunity to have their children returned to them over and over again … after being removed for stupid and blatant reckless behaviors.  What I, and many others, would call reckless endangerment.

I am NOT advocating that we give license to hyper-active social workers to take kids away from their parents for perceived violations which shouldn’t be violations at all.  Those would include everything from simple (and legitimate) punishment ... or giving children simple chores when they are young, and then given increasing responsibilities as they grow older ... having the responsibility to walk to a park or school by themselves ... up to and including the right to be home schooled and not be slagged by teaching professionals and so-called enlightened liberals.

I asked a friend to take a look at what I was planning to post, he concluded by stating:
"I understand where you want to go with this, and I don’t disagree that we need stronger sanctions against bad and unsafe parenting.  But I’m at a loss as to how to do that without giving the State far, far too much authority in the realm of family autonomy.   A tough dilemma, to be sure."

Well, here it is now for all the world to see and read … care to share your thoughts on this topic?

I’m Alan Forseth in Kamloops


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