02/07/12 — Missed chance: One wonders if system should have been able to save children

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Missed chance: One wonders if system should have been able to save children

You can't blame the deaths of Josh Powell's two young sons on the social worker who dropped them off that fateful day.

She could not have known the depth of the evil she was dealing with. She could not have known a father was lying in wait with a plan to murder his children in a horrific fire.

But you have to wonder about this case -- and others -- and how many times an overworked system has missed the chance to save lives.

Talk to those in the field and they will tell you -- it is not easy dealing with parents who seem to have little interest in caring for their children or who show tendencies that suggest they might harm them.

Truth is the system is geared toward keeping families intact and to give parents every opportunity to keep their children in their home.

That means second and sometimes third chances to make things right -- even when it is obvious that the home is the problem.

But sometimes there are signs that are missed -- and chances that are taken -- because the system simply cannot deal with the volume of problems that are reported.

And sometimes, people simply do not want to get involved.

That is the price we pay for the society we have created.

Abuse and neglect are not always consequences of poverty. Bad parents come in all socioeconomic levels. But when the family is stressed financially, or when there is not proper parenting going on, there is more likelihood that the story will end badly.

And we as a society have to figure out what to do about that.

There should be a better way to get children away from vile parents -- and a much steeper hill to get them back once there has been a problem identified.

And that means really putting the children first -- no matter what.

Published in Editorials on February 7, 2012 11:05 AM