Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.

Dr. Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D,B.C.S.A.,DAPA.
e-mail: batushkad@yahoo.com

Monday, January 12, 2009


When parents are not adequate often Child Protective Services steps in. But is the State to be deemed a better parent? Who do we report to when the State is abusive, possibly more so than the natural parents of the child? We see youth placed in detention facilities and residential facilities. In these settings, they are placed often under conditions that lead them to further emotional distress. It appears that this is the game. The decisions to place children is often not based on a genuine interest in the child's best interests, but what will be profitable and the easiest way out of having to actually rehabilitate a youth and meet their emotional needs. It is no wonder that the socio-economically disadvantaged youth are the ones that are so frequently seen in this system. Some of these children have been taught through their family dynamics to be aggressive and to seek to dominate others. How does placing a child into a detention center or residential facility which often is geared towards the concept of staff forcing conformity through rewards and punishments and often by deprivation teach a child who seeks to use power inappropriately that this is wrong? How does a militaristic system teach anything but that the child must submit to someone stronger than themselves? It only reinforces wrong ideas about power and domination. These facilities are bound to create new emotional problems for these children. But the system profits here as well, because then they are able to label and drug the children and make money in the process of billing for this injustice. These settings set youth up for failure, but that is part of the game as well. A youth is removed from the home, programmed, and when they conform to the expectations, released back to the setting that led to their madness and misbehavior to begin with. It becomes a vicious cycle. But there is money to be made. $70,000 a year for these type of placements, and if things go badly and they must return, well, here is more money to be made. If we spent $70,000 towards providing to the real needs of children and their families, we would be in a much better situation. We need to shift our focus to true rehabilitation and to addressing actual social problems, not locking our children away, drugging them into submission, and ignoring their needs. This may be a dream as long as money and greed remain the focus of those controlling this sick system.
In October 2008, I wrote to Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania sharing some of the concerns I have outlined above as well as a specific situation. It was not until the end of November that I received a response from the Office of Children and Families which expressed "niceties" of how concerned they are for the welfare of the children of the Commonwealth and how the issue related would be looked into. It appears that because this family had a history of challenges, was disadvantaged (thus lacking representation and a real voice in the system), that Child Protective Services and others were able to push forward an agenda. To date, absolutely no action has been taken. This came to me as no surprise as it has been apparent that there are too many vested interests for any reforms to occur in the near future. However, I believe it is necessary for citizens and organizations committed to social justice and children to continue to fight the good fight. I believe that detention and residential centers should become a rarity if non-existent as it has been seen that there do exist community based programming that is far more effective and far more humane. Sadly, I have witnessed how disadvantaged children and particularly minority children are the ones more frequently subjected to these abuses I have mentioned. It is a travesty. We must look at juvenile offenders not merely as 'monsters' or 'troublemakers" but we must look at the underlying roots of why they become anti-social. Anti-social behavior arises as a result of the social, political, and familial processs at work. If society was not as ill as it is, if there existed equality, human rights, etc., it would be obvious that we would see a vast decline in emotional problems, crime, anti-social behaviors, etc.
We must re-examine our priorities. But as long as greed is at work and the desire to take the so-called 'easy way out', these abuses of our children will continue.
It is almost as if the system creates perpetually distressed or anti-social individuals as to keep everyone in their place. Rehabilitation is sadly far from the focus. The State officials can write all the niceties they want about how concerned they are for the children, but the words are empty without real action. And are we to assume that any of these high paid bureaucrats actualy are losing any sleep over the conditions that youth are subjected to? Definitely not.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

-Dan L. Edmunds, Ed.D.

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