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Author Topic: Would you approve social workers visiting all families?
LetterRip
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There are a lot of tragic abuse and neglect cases that would be caught early, or even be prevented, if social workers were to briefly visit all families once a year. It might also eliminate the stigma of having a social worker visit.

I'm curious if any countries do this and what effect it has.

Do you think this would be a good idea or a bad idea?

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Pete at Home
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Absolutely not. Too many of them take on a prosecutorial role, and in states like Washington where the social worker gets a $5000 bonus per kid taken from parents and adopted to another family, they positively drool on seizing healthy white babies for the slightest of excuses. Wonder what pretexts they are drumming up now that Marijuana is now legal ...
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Grant
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If you tell me it's okay for these social workers to profile and concentrate their efforts on certain demographics that show greater instance of child abuse, then I will say they can visit everybody.
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Seriati
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Horrid idea if you believe in freedom, wonderfull idea if you're trying to maximize state control of our lives.

Home visits would be the ulitmate in providing opportunities for subjective abuse of power. After all what's more threatening than a governement official with the power to take your children if they see something they don't like. Maybe they're an ideologue and grade more harshly households with guns, maybe they're a closet racist and look the other way in some homes but not others. Hell maybe they're just an abuser and extort payments or sex from family members.

What gain do you get out of this? Do you realize how many of the households with a true abuser, the first reaction of everyone that knew them after it becomes public is shock. Shock because he was always so nice, a friend to everyone. Or little Johnny was such a sweet boy. What's the chance that a visit gets fooled versus a false positive?

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LetterRip
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Pete,

quote:
in states like Washington where the social worker gets a $5000 bonus per kid taken from parents and adopted to another family
Could you link me to a source? Perverse incentives like that are obviously horrific.

Seriati,

quote:
After all what's more threatening than a government official with the power to take your children if they see something they don't like.
This could happen regardless, this suggests that the criteria should be objective and training should be improved. If you don't think they are doing a good enough job, then get the hiring, training, etc. changed.

Either they are doing a good job now, and shouldn't be reformed, and this would not provide a risk, or they should be reformed regardless.

quote:
What gain do you get out of this?
It was stated in the original post - it would catch most cases of gross neglect before they became a tragedy. Gross neglect isn't a rare outburst thing, it is default state, and thus would be caught by random checks.

Domestic violence isn't something that can be detected with random visits.

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Seneca
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No it would not happen regardless since social workers right now would need to be accompanied by cops with a warrant or else they'd be criminally trespassed from a property.

It's hard to have corruption if someone can't physically get into your house.

and Pete, knock off the cheap shots at WA or at least cite a source for your accusations.

[ August 15, 2014, 04:04 PM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Seriati,

quote:
After all what's more threatening than a government official with the power to take your children if they see something they don't like.
This could happen regardless, this suggests that the criteria should be objective and training should be improved. If you don't think they are doing a good enough job, then get the hiring, training, etc. changed.
There is no such thing as an "objective" home visit. It's like any observational scientific study, you can not separate the motivations of the observer from the study. When the observer also has power, it makes for an infinitely corruptible situation.

I don't think the ACS record is that good now. Put them in the position of second guessing every single home situation and you'll have kids removed from homes where they shouldn't be. That creates severe psychological stress on both children and parents. Not to mention fear as those cases get reported.

If you're a parent, you've probably already seen some of the crazy cases that come up today. Parents getting calls from ACS for posting the embarrassing photos of their tolders we all have in the family album on Facebook. ACS actually removing children cause they're playing in the yard while the mother is in the house. Removing the children becuase the mom left her thirteen year old daughter in charge (notwithstanding she's old enough to babysit). Those are often with the government agents trying to act in good faith. Make it a requirement for them to be allowed to intervene and a lot of the proper deference they pay to parental decisions disappears.
quote:
quote:
What gain do you get out of this?
It was stated in the original post - it would catch most cases of gross neglect before they became a tragedy. Gross neglect isn't a rare outburst thing, it is default state, and thus would be caught by random checks.
I don't think it would catch it. People can easily hide what they don't want someone to see.

When a solution has great potential for abuse and limited potential for a good result its a bad idea.

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
No it would not happen regardless since social workers right now would need to be accompanied by cops with a warrant or else they'd be criminally trespassed from a property.

That's a technical/legal barrier. I think the thought experiment focuses on moral/pragmatic objections.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Pete,

quote:
in states like Washington where the social worker gets a $5000 bonus per kid taken from parents and adopted to another family
Could you link me to a source? Perverse incentives like that are obviously horrific.

Happened to three of my wife's nieces in Tacoma. I was in court. I offered to give Seneca the case info privately so he could look it up on his police sources, but he wussied out, and continues to demand that I stop talking about it.
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Seneca
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No it's just absolutely absurd for you to expect us to treat something as proof if you aren't prepared to publicly cite it here. If you aren't comfortable with that case then find another or stop trying to assert it. I'm not going to play private email games with you for a discussion that involves more than just us.

[ August 15, 2014, 04:14 PM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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Grant
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Why would anyone publicly cite a case report with their families involved?
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Seneca
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I'm not saying they should, but if he doesn't want to then he should find a similar case in WA caselaw or stop making these accusations.
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PSRT
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Having a wife who works with young children with severe special needs, and working with teenagers myself, I absolutely think more families need random visits by social workers. I think the prosecutorial nature of a lot of social workers is due to the way social workers currently visit homes, most often after a complaint is filed.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
No it's just absolutely absurd for you to expect us to treat something as proof

I don't expect you to treat it as proof. The OP asks if I approve it, and no I don't, because of my personal experiences. We've already established that you don't accept my experiences. I never demanded that you accept them. Now please piss off and stop telling me I can't tell my own story.
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Seneca
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If you are going to share that story here I'm going to call it a one-off bad decision that warranted appeal, not the general rule of how things go down in this state. Got it?
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Pete at Home
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I have a bad experience in Georgia as well. My second son is in foster care because my ex could not handle him, and I can't afford an apartment right now and am basically homeless. There's no demand for paralegal work here, and I can't pass a background check because of issues related to alcholism in 2010-2011. I was only able to secure a car a few months ago, haven't been able to get a job paying more than a couple hundred dollars a week, and so I can't afford an apartment.

The state is moving towards terminating my parental rights for no other reason than i'm poor and can't afford a place for my kid to live. He's not adoptable; there's no bloody benefit to him to lose my visits and phone calls, but the state just wants to close the case. The judge yelled at me at the last hearing and family services made lots of smug remarks about how the case has been going 15 months (I was in rehab for the first nine months of it) and I still haven't secured a job that lets me have a home and money to pay for child care.

But I can't cite a public case number for that, so I guess Seneca's going to harass me about that story too.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
If you are going to share that story here I'm going to call it a one-off bad decision that warranted appeal, not the general rule of how things go down in this state. Got it?

And that may be right. But for me, having seen how it worked for my brother in WA, having seen how it worked for my clients in NV, and seeing how it's worked for me and my kids here in Georgia, I see these failures as the general rule of how things work with social workers and family courts across the country.
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NobleHunter
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Like Seriati, I think the number of erroneous interventions might outweigh the benefits. It would also increase the number of failures to intervene, which would let the accused claim that the social worker didn't find any as a defense. It'd be easier to miss things without a specific complaint to investigate.
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Seneca
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We'd be completely repealing the 4th Amendment to make this work which has a number of costs associated with it. Those costs worth it?
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LetterRip
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Pete,

there are definitely issues with how foster care and social workers work now. We have both the problem of inappropriate actions being taken - removing custody, etc. for good parents; and appropriate action not being taken such as failure to remove custody from some abusive parents.

I wonder if the US has particularly poorly skilled/trained social workers - or if other developed nations have similar issues.

So I guess I'm with the consensus that it would be a 'bad idea now'.

Seriati,

it doesn't have to be inherently subjective, or at least not enough to matter. Also random checks you can't 'hide' neglect.

PSRT,

quote:
I think the prosecutorial nature of a lot of social workers is due to the way social workers currently visit homes, most often after a complaint is filed.
Interesting and a good point.

[ August 15, 2014, 07:18 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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Pete at Home
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But as in my case, the social workers go into both parents' homes even though the complaint may have been against the other parent. I never had a complaint against me, but I'm the one being persecuted for being poor, for no other reason that when family services get involved, it's a full fledged fishing expedition against everyone.
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PSRT
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Yes. Because the way we structure social work is to ensure that social workers have already been told that the child is in danger every time they go to a parents house. If that expectation is completely flipped by the way we structure social work, then social workers are going to want to get in, get out, and get on with their job, unless there is something obvious in the first few minutes.
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Seneca
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What would the social workers be there for? To have coffee? A round of poker? They are there to check on the children and ensure that the state approves of how the children are being raised. That fundamentally destroys a huge aspect of American freedom.
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LetterRip
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Seneca,

quote:
They are there to check on the children and ensure that the state approves of how the children are being raised. That fundamentally destroys a huge aspect of American freedom.
They are there to check to see if the children are being neglected and abused. There is no right to abuse or neglect children, it is not a fundamental 'American freedom'. What in particular do you think would qualify as neglect and abuse legally that is in fact a fundamental American freedom?
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Seneca
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Who argued there is a freedom to abuse children? No one. Nice straw man you made there.

The freedom we're discussing is the 4th Amendment and probable cause. If you get rid of needing probable cause to disturb people who are secure in their homes that is a huge loss of freedom that makes living in America worth much less than it is now. The founding fathers in part rebelled against the British for their use of General Warrants that allowed them to search whole neighborhoods or whole cities at a time to see if they liked how people were living. Your proposal is the same. That fact that you propose it in the sheep's clothing of "being for the CHILDREN" makes it even worse. How many terrible laws are passed because they are named the "protect the children act of X"?

In my opinion the bigger abuse of children comes from using them as political pawns to push totalitarian policies because them all children will suffer at growing up into a less free society. What's the point of making America safer for children or anyone else if we destroy the reasons that make living here worthwhile?

[ August 17, 2014, 11:45 AM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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Pete at Home
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I agree wihh Seneca, and say further that social.workers.are already in violation of the 4th amendment. If antiterrorism investigators had as few.checks and as low.a.burden of evidence as family case workers have, the left.would.be.screaming. LR, that last "right to abuse" argument is like saying that preventing warrantless.phone taps creates a right to commit terrorism.
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Pete at Home
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Just 10 miles from me, a North Augusta South Carolina woman is arrested for swearing in front of her kids in a grocery store.
This will give social services free rein to (among other things) blood test both parents for pot, with a positive test meaning kids get taken away.

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LetterRip
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Seneca,

quote:
Who argued there is a freedom to abuse children? No one. Nice straw man you made there.
Your phrasing was such that I thought that is what you were implying. You had said.

quote:
They are there to check on the children and ensure that the state approves of how the children are being raised. That fundamentally destroys a huge aspect of American freedom.
The only 'approval' was 'not neglecting and abusing' - thus your second sentence implies that the 'fundamental aspect of freedom' is the ability to 'neglect and abuse'.

My interpretation was that you thought some forms of behavior (corporal punishment perhaps) that a social worker might view as abusive you were arguing was a fundamental freedom of the parent in raising their children.

If you wanted to say it was a violation of unreasonable search, then you should have said that.

So no, it was not a strawman, it was a reasonable inference from your writing. If you wanted me to know that you were talking about the 4th amendment you could have simply said so.

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Pete at Home
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"The only 'approval' was 'not neglecting and abusing"

LR, given the dismally low standard of proof required in family court (taking a kid away requires no more proof than getting a warrant), "abuse" in the family court system essentially means doing anything that someone in the system frowns on, while "neglect" means not doing something that someone in the system thinks should be done. Interference with a 15 year old's sex life will be construed as abuse by one court while failure to so interfere will be construed as neglect by another. That's not enough to get the workers into your house in the first place, but once they are in, like vampires, you can't get them out, and they end up screwing with your family over every little thing like that, or for basically failing to sufficiently suck up.

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OpsanusTau
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It seems like most of the objections focus on how the CPS we have is problematic and needs reform. I agree with that - social workers are overworked and underpaid. They are also expected to carry huge emotional burdens and are given inadequate opportunity for self-care, leading to a high incidence of compassion fatigue and burnout, which doesn't improve job performance.

I have a kiwi friend who described the Home Visitor from her childhood (I think that was the title at least) - some sort of pediatrics nurse who came by every so often for a health and development checkup. I don't know for how long. In that implementation, it seems like a good thing; potential health problems caught early and referred in for follow-up.

I also think that if the home inspection criteria were sufficiently well-defined, there should be no real problem for any reasonable parent. I am imagining a checklist: child has clothing. Child does not have fecal or urine staining body. Child is free of unexplained injuries. Child is not inappropriately confined.

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Pete at Home
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I dont think greater pay would.make.the god.complex.go away. The judges are.well paid, but in.the social services scenatio, but.in vegas ans Washington, i saw judges in family services dependency demonstrate.far.bigger.god.complexes.than the worst social workera. OPS, the main problem is not to pay, it's the law. Again the standard of proof for taking a child away is lower, much lower than the standard of proof for civil.let alone.criminal court. Put juries in and then.let's talk. Right now the system is a runaway train with no.oversight whatsoever. Expand the disaster? No bloody way.
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LetterRip
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Ops,

a pediatrics nurse doing home visits seems much more along the lines of what I was thinking and yes the fairly narrow criteria you outline seem similar to what I was thinking.

Pete,

Good points regarding standard of proof and lack of oversite. In Alaska the lack of oversite is definitely an issue.

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Mormegil
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I don't even let my relatives into my home. Why? Doesn't matter. It's my home. The one place on earth I am supposed to be free and secure.

If a social worker is allowed to enter my home against my will to "check on things" with no reason to suspect anything bad is going on, then I'm no longer free.

Yes, privacy is frequently used to hide wrongdoing.

That is not the purpose of privacy though.

Because some people abuse their privacy is not sufficient cause to take mine away.

Would you support social workers reading your diary while they are in your home? Just in case you wrote down something incriminating?

"Think of the children" is a great way to get people to agree to give up their fundamental freedoms.

I'll go so far as so say that anyone who votes in favor of compulsory government in-home inspections is EVIL. I don't know what else to call it when you decide to enter my home by force, not because I'm doing anything wrong, but just because you feel you know better and you are stronger and can inflict your will on me.

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JoshuaD
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quote:
LR: Would you approve social workers visiting all families?
Absolutely not. This would be a huge leap in terms of invasion of privacy and government power, and I would oppose it strongly.
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Pete at Home
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To me, the question seems to be, do you think that an opaque overworked unelected.bureacracy that lacks any.sort of oversight, should have power to second-guess every parent in America about the well-being of their.kids?

Bear in mind that the court and social services here still havent caught on to the fact that Thing Two has limbic encephalopathy rather than Autism despite the fact that i've told.them and forwarded the medical opinions and.cat scans that prove it ... maybe because autism requires fewer medical expenses since the courts here have determined.that autism is a mere "learning.disorder" and autistic.kids should.be "mainstreamed" rather than treated.

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KidTokyo
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I would oppose this myself, but if a locality wants to try it I would have to admit I'd be curious to know the results. There is less danger if the investigating agency is accountable and transparent. So I guess for me this depends on the nature of the agency than a bright-line privacy issue.
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JoshuaD
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quote:
Kid:I would oppose this myself, but if a locality wants to try it I would have to admit I'd be curious to know the results
The problem with things like this is you can't even really measure the results. There's no baseline to compare to, because these "experiments" aren't repeatable. In addition, what changes in that society are caused by this new idea, and which aren't?

This idea is bad for the reasons Pete outlined already. It's a huge invasion which undermines one of the most important relationships humans have: that of a parent and a child.

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KidTokyo
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If a particular community feels it has a problem with child abuse and/or neglect, and it democratically decides that the best way to address it is to have social workers visit homes, then they can determine for themselves if there is an improvement as a result. It comes down to whether the social agency is accountable or at a remove from those it serves.

In the "real world" I do oppose this because most of the time such agencies run a high risk of being scary and abusive. But I contend that is a structural problem which engenders a paternalistic, over-confident attitude.

The parent/child bond is indeed one of the most important relationships so there is reason to take an interest where the relationship is abusive and destructive.

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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by KidTokyo:
If a particular community feels it has a problem with child abuse and/or neglect, and it democratically decides that the best way to address it is to have social workers visit homes, then they can determine for themselves if there is an improvement as a result. It comes down to whether the social agency is accountable or at a remove from those it serves.

A majority can't "elect" to take fundemental rights from a minority. It would have to be unanimous to have a shot.

But the bigger problem is that model programs engender model behaviour, which biases the results in a way that makes it look better than it is.

How many social workers extorting single mothers for sex with a threat to take away their kids does it take before you agree to cancel such a program?
quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Seriati,

it doesn't have to be inherently subjective, or at least not enough to matter. Also random checks you can't 'hide' neglect.

LR, I'm going to say this again, you can not have home visits that are looking for something as nebulous as signs of neglect that are not subjective. The whole point of training is to teach the people involved to pick up on cues that require context to interpret (ie subjectiveness). If this was something that was objectively possible the catch rate of public school teachers for abused/neglected children would be higher (actually it would be high enough that the merits of this program would be dubious).

And as a matter of fact you can hide such signs, even with random visits. There are plenty of public accounts of children who were abused or neglected in the homes of people where ACS had been involved for years, or where the person involved was on parole and subject to regular visits.

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KidTokyo
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quote:
A majority can't "elect" to take fundamental rights from a minority.
I agree that this is beyond the power of a majority, and I also agree that institutions can be abusive. But they are not necessarily so, they become so due to problems of scale and accountability. Also, I don't think brief annual visits to someone's home constitutes the violation of a fundamental right. It may become that if the agency's power to act on what it finds becomes too sweeping or arbitrary -- but the concept of visiting and briefly interviewing need not violate a fundamental right.
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