Harming or Protecting? You Decide.

Grace Newby

What is CPS? This is a question a lot of people ask when they first hear about it. Some may already know what it is or have had to deal with it personally. Child Protective Services is an agency that investigates the reports of child abuse and maltreatment. Despite assumptions that are made about CPS, it has it’s pros and cons. CPS provides a long list of resources that you can use to improve the situation at hand that may be a saving grace to some, along with being able to save time and money for the potential victim. However, along with the positives also come the negatives of CPS. Oftentimes, CPS neglects to acknowledge the signs of an abusive household which could end in life long health issues and also typically ignore the patient’s wishes. 

The Problems in “Protecting”

To begin, CPS neglecting to acknowledge the signs leads to future health problems such as physical and mental issues including eating disorders, internal issues, and mental disorders. When asked “Do you have any health issues that were caused by being in the foster care system? (mental illness, physical illness, ect)” Tianna Peterson, an 18 year old high school student who spent the majority of her childhood in the Foster Care system states “Yes. I developed depression and anxiety. I developed things like an eating disorder and I have stomach issues. They all still affect me to this day. I have routine blood checks and appointments because of it.” These are not the only issues that can be caused from being in the foster care system. Many mental issues are evident in kids and even in adults that have endured the pain from being in the system and still go through things like PTSD, panic and anxiety disorders, drug and alcohol abuse. 

The Failure to Listen

Secondly, they fail to listen to the kids and neglect to believe in them. During the interview, Tianna added “It [CPS] made me feel like my gripes, tears, and cries were all invalid because they never took the signs and ran with it, they just sat there while the foster parents would tell them a line, and the worst thing is, is that they believed it. They believed that we lived in a loving atmosphere.”. This is a very impactful quote, especially coming from someone who has had to deal with the Foster Care System firsthand.  According to Justice for Children, a child advocacy program, “Children under the age of 6 are routinely held by criminal court judges to be “incompetent” to testify as to the crime committed against them.”. With children being deemed incompetent, they are unable to speak on the things that are happening in their household and what may be happening to them. 

There are many things that people can do to try and urge CPS to pay more attention to the children in need of help and support starting with listening to the children that make complaints of abuse or neglect to prevent deaths of young children and teens. According to Justice for Children, “90% of those children were age 5 or younger. And, 42% of the children who died had been previously reported to CPS as being in danger.” This means that 650 child deaths could have been prevented, if CPS would have intervened sooner. Another solution to this issue is paying attention to children in the homes and doing things like routine doctor’s visits and appointments will ensure the child is staying in a safe environment.  Meaning that the doctor can see and report physical signs of any type of abuse including sexual. Finally, we could take steps in the direction of regular CPS representative involvement that will result in positive forward action in CPS and the Foster Care system. 

In conclusion, we can see that although CPS may have some positives we can see that the negative far outweighs it. I hope that through this article, you, the reader, have a better understanding of the flaws and issues in the Child Protective Services and also the Foster Care System, but also that there are solutions to these issues leaving us not completely doomed.