Nov 27, 2011 at 6:17 pm #1282474
An 8-year-old elementary school student who weighs more than 200 pounds (90 kilograms) has been taken from his family and placed into foster care after county social workers said his mother wasn't doing enough to control his weight.
The Plain Dealer newspaper reports that the Cleveland 8-year-old is considered severely obese and at risk for such diseases as diabetes and hypertension.
The case is the first state officials can recall of a child being put in foster care strictly for a weight-related issue.
Lawyers for the mother say the county overreached when authorities took the boy last week. They say the medical problems he is at risk for do not yet pose an imminent danger.
A spokeswoman says the county removed the child because caseworkers saw his mother's inability to reduce his weight as medical neglect.Nov 27, 2011 at 7:56 pm #1806111
The link won't show the article, at least for me.
I know there will be a lot of people that think that removing the child is completely in violation of so many rights and privacies. But, good for the smack down on ridiculously naive, lazy, uncaring parents (at least in regards to the child's eating habits). Of course, this is assuming that there is nothing medically wrong with the kid.
"Lawyers for the mother say the county overreached when authorities took the boy last week. They say the medical problems he is at risk for do not yet pose an imminent danger."
I could not think of a more irresponsible pattern of rationale.Nov 27, 2011 at 8:12 pm #1806120
@thefatboyLocale: St. Louis
This is a slippery slope… Last year they drew the line at kids with actual medical problems. Now it's kids who are at high risk of actual medical problems. What's next? Take kids away from smokers because those kids may get sick/develop asthma/start smoking? Take kids whose parents don't make them wear helmets when biking the neighborhood? Take kids whose parents let them participate in potentially dangerous activities (football, white-water rafting)? Take kids whose parents leave them home before some approved age (and I don't know what that is)? Take kids who are perfectly healthy and safe from parents who are not because those parents MAY not be able to take care of the kids?
As a tub whose weight HAS caused health issues, I really feel for this kid. I just hope the state exhausted all other options before resorting to taking custody. And I hope this isn't the start of a trend.Nov 27, 2011 at 8:30 pm #1806128
My thoughts exactly.
If the justification is that parent's behavior "might" cause feature problems that opens all kinds possiblities for selective enforcement of overly vague laws.
I'm not insensitive to the plight of kids with lousy parents. I've worked with abused kids and seen some trully horrible parents.
I personally think from what I've heard its possible these parents were being neglectful and they need to either shape up or lose their kid. On the other hand I think there should be a more concrete reason for it.Nov 27, 2011 at 8:47 pm #1806136
Joe ClementBPL Member
Hey, the government is always right, and more of it is better. I read that on here all the time.Nov 27, 2011 at 9:34 pm #1806157
I understand the caution of the slippery slope, but I don't think the slope is that slippery.
"Take kids away from smokers because those kids may get sick/develop asthma/start smoking? Take kids whose parents don't make them wear helmets when biking the neighborhood? Take kids whose parents let them participate in potentially dangerous activities (football, white-water rafting)? Take kids whose parents leave them home before some approved age (and I don't know what that is)? Take kids who are perfectly healthy and safe from parents who are not because those parents MAY not be able to take care of the kids?"
The smoking issue is tough, but everything else is pretty much a straw-man argument. There aren't any patterns of "abuse" or documented issues with playing football, or leaving kids of a *possible* unapproved age home alone, etc. There's risk in everything we do, and that's a fact of being alive. Do we continue the slope to argue that if you let your kids out of the house to go to school that they might get hit by a car, or be abducted from a mall when you've turned your back to them for a second? Don't have kids because something might happen to them.
My point is, people KNOW what unhealthy eating habits can become. People KNOW that 200 freaking pounds for an 8 year old is *already* a medical problem. People KNOW that eating patterns learned as a child will be incredibly difficult to overcome as an adult. People KNOW that a child is easily impressed upon, meaning that how they're treated as a child will most likely have some effect on their future. People KNOW that obesity is an issue that needs addressing. When more than 65% of the US population is either overweight or obese, there's a problem.
The following was taken from an online news article some time back in regards to Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign.
"[Sarah Palin] later also criticized Michelle Obama saying that '(w)hat she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat.'
I know that what Sarah Palin says is an echoing the concerns of many parents in this country. These are your children and ultimately you make the choices, not the government. I can empathize with that view, even if I am admittedly not a big fan of Sarah Palin’s politics.
But what most gives me pause with Sarah Palin’s point of view is that for the past 30 years we have let parents make all these decisions with minimal government input and we can see how it has gone. So now that we’ve reaching a point where obesity in children truly is an epidemic in this country, is it time to try something different for our children?"
I agree.Nov 27, 2011 at 10:48 pm #1806180
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> Lawyers for the mother say … the medical problems he is at risk for do not yet pose an imminent danger.
Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?
Me, I don't think there is a 'possible risk' here; I think there is already a severe medical problem right now.
The mother is already being grossly negligent with someone else's health. A 90 kg 8-year old? Parenthood implies a responsibility: she was not showing any.
CheersNov 28, 2011 at 4:57 am #1806213
The problem with this is not that social services got involved but their justification for getting involved was so poorly stated. You'd think you could get a doctors note or something to the effect that "This kid is virtually guranteed to have a number of health problems in the near future unless something is done." The problem is that their justification was so fuzzy. This means they have less chance of winning a court challenge but if they do they set a horrible precedent.
In my experience the state does a horrible job helping kids who legitamitly need it, even kids who are actually being physically abused. I worked with troubled kids I know. The number of kids who "slipped through the cracks" was heart breaking.
I also know from experience that social services has been used to basically harrass parents with false claims of abuse. When I was in school parents who homeschooled their kids lived in fear of social services. School officials who didn't like the competition would try to intimidate parents and if that didn't work they'd send in social services based on annonymous tips of abuse. A lot of parents had their kid forcably removed from their home on false charges and spent a lot of time in court proving their innocence (during which time the kids would be scattered around in varies homes getting tramatized).
When the government decides whats safe you get some funny rules. In New York last summer days camps were told that freeze tag was a "dangerous" game that should not be played. Also kids had to have a lifeguard present if they stepped into a puddle of water over their ankle. I was required to put on surgical gloves to pass a pitcher of lemonade around to kids at my table. If a kid got hurt playing a game the health inspector would ban that game even if it was no worse than games kids play at home and school all the time. We were told that basically accidents didn't happen as far as the law was concerned, someone was always to blame.
Before the state gets involved in homes I suggest we start by improving the diet in schools. Kids eat a lot of their meals in schools and spend most of the day there. You'd think if we really wanted to solve the problem that would be the best place to start (bringing back recess and more PE wouldn't be a horrible idea either).Nov 28, 2011 at 8:11 am #1806251
Katharina LångstrumpBPL Member
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
Slippery slope indeed. That should say it all, really.
In my opinion not enough people realize how they may end up slipping some day, in that same slope.
I personally know holier than thou, busy body mothers who would welcome this action as well as kids being taken from their parents for a number of other reasons. What they are not thinking about is how their own "perfect" parenting may one day be scrutinized ( not vaccinating, for example) and they then may become subject to the same actions.
Be careful out there; one day your own choices may not be popular or may be condemned by this very educated and thoughtful society, and then it'd be too late to invoke your rights.
Ok, done preaching :)Nov 28, 2011 at 8:28 am #1806256
@maynard76Locale: New England
if I were their lawyer I would sue the government for making my kids fat. After all it is government subsidies that make junk food possible. Government licenses that allow businesses to advertize junk food to children. Government lunch programs that sell processed food and call pizza a vegetable. Even if the parents actively sought out what a healthy diet should be the government and media collude to confuse the public for economic reasons.Nov 28, 2011 at 9:07 am #1806270
Funny you should mention the government Brian. Last I checked government subsidies were proping up inefficient farming and irriagtion practices which wastes our money and pollutes the envirnment. That may be one issue the envirnmentalist and republicans could agree on.
Back to the original kid it sounds like his mom actually tried, couple new facts I noticed
-His mom had him in a weight loss program and he was actually losing weight for a while
-His mom got him a bike and tried to get him to be more active
-Both his parents are a bit overweight so genetics could play a role
-He has a 16 year old brother who's skinny so diet may not be the only thing
-His mom tried to keep him off of sweats but felt like siblings and other kids might have given him sweets.
-He's been out of his home for a month now with a hearing scheduled.
-He's lost a "few pounds" but there are problems with his foster mom getting him to doctors appoinments. In other words the states' "solution" is not much more effective than the mom's (remember she had him losing small amounts of weight too).
So basically the kid was taken out of his mom because social services didn't think he was losing weight fast enough but they don't have an effective plan to fix the problem either. Sounds like either stupidity or an attempt to make and example out of someone.Nov 28, 2011 at 11:03 am #1806318
certain asian societies are very harsh again fat people … in japan for example they go around measuring yr waist size at companies i believe and treat it as a medical issue … i know korean families that start calling their kids fat at the first signs of, well, fatness
i used to think it was stupid … but the reality is that those families i know and people from those societies seem to be much thinner and generally more healthy .. even compared to the same asians who have been here for more than a generation
the pressure or lack there of can be good or bad … the only reason i lost weight is because my friends started jokingly calling me fat … which i simply wasNov 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm #1806397
Miguel ArboledaBPL Member
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Why get so permanently drastic? Why not take the kid away for a time, both to get him back to health and to give the parents' time to evaluate their actions, and then give the parents a trial period? If they pass, the kid can go back home. Breaking up families can be just as damaging as obesity.
And there better not have been any obese people among those who conducted the investigation and legal action.Nov 28, 2011 at 3:25 pm #1806412
Well Miguel I think its way to drastic to but I think you misread one thing. Apparently the mom will get a second chance which is the one positive fact about the whole sorry storry.
Here's my understanding of how the system works in the US. If social services has grounds to think a home situation is unsafe (normally this means evidence of drugs or abuse) they take the kid out and them him in a foster home or group home temporarily. After that there is a court hearing to investigate the matter. Often the kid ends up going back to the home. This happened to a young boy in my neighborhood even though there was plenty or reason to believe he was being both abused and neglected. Thats apparently where this situation is. Once they get around to a hearing the mom will have a chance to prove that she can take care of her kid and get him back.
Personally I think someone's on a crusade to scare parents into keeping their kids skinny but I've already stated my opinions.Nov 29, 2011 at 8:37 am #1806696
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
"A couple convicted last year of starving their then-infant daughter because they feared the baby would become too fat have lost permanent custody of their three young children after a nine-day dependency court trial."Nov 29, 2011 at 1:03 pm #1806797
my question would be about neglect, not direct starvation
what about a case where the parents could not or would not stop a kid from not eating, ie starving themselves, for whatever reason
i suspect that this has happened somewhere before …Nov 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm #1806845
You mean anorexie? Thats a tough one to deal with and I doubt it shows up on the social service radar as often. A girl may be anorexic for years before anyone realized theres a problem and by that time you may be racing the clock to sovle it before she's 18. Its easy for an outsider to look at a family and say they should have done things differently but the reality is its incredibly hard to help someone like that because it really is like an addiction.Nov 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm #1806864
@gregfLocale: Canadian Rockies
To me this is terrible. An huge over reach by the government. The problems with this are numerous.
I think my biggest issue is that even if you agree that fat kids should be removed from parents homes why would you remove the kid prior to the hearing to see if she was a fit mother. There is no immenent danger to the child. If the child spends another 3 months in this situation he would gain another 5lbs. This would only be marginally worse than the case now. Compare this to the loss of liberty that the state is taking away from the parent by taking the kid plus the emotional damage by removing the kid and placing him in a strange home. Which does more harm? To me ripping the kid out of his home is far more damaging. Now if you had the hearing first you could at least have a fairly arbitrated ruling and not someones opinion at child services making the decision.
Beyond that taking fat kids out of homes is really another attack on being poor. One of the most correlating statistics to Childhood Obisity is poverty. If you look at food in terms of Calories per dollar the cheapest food is the worst for you. All comes back to the corn subsidies.
I also think that even if the parent fed the get terrible food all the time and the kid gained a lot of weight the state still shouldn't step in under any circumstance. To me it doesn't meet the standard of abuse. It is bad parenting but all kinds of bad parenting isn't abuse.
Essentailly what the state is saying is that parents are responsible for the future outcomes of their children and if the probabilities of good outcomes becomes to low the state will take the child. So should the state take kids if they are failing in school, If the child can't pass a certain standardized test the child is removed from the home. Are you a bad parent if your kid fails, YES, but should you lose your kid, Absolutely not.
For me the state needs to meet a very high burden in order to intervene and being fat and getting diabetes does not meet that burden.Nov 29, 2011 at 5:11 pm #1806919
@maynard76Locale: New England
"Beyond that taking fat kids out of homes is really another attack on being poor. One of the most correlating statistics to Childhood Obisity is poverty. If you look at food in terms of Calories per dollar the cheapest food is the worst for you. All comes back to the corn subsidies."
This is a fact. When people try to tell everyone obesity is caused by wealth and easy access to food, you only need to look at the numbers. The wealthy in this country are by far more lean and healthy on average because they eat a better quality of food.Nov 29, 2011 at 7:52 pm #1806970
How about a little personal accountability. If your kid is fat and there is no medical reason for being overweight, then it is your fault. If your kid gets lunch from school and it is garbage, pack their lunch at home. If the school doesn't have enough physical activity for your kid, don't let them sit on the couch when they get home. Quit shifting the blame and making excuses.
I grew up very much less than wealthy, and we ate well. I now have four kids of my own and I am on a budget as well. We eat healthy, it just takes a little effort to combine economy and healthy. It can be done and is really not that difficult.
I am so tired of people expecting someone else to dictate to them what is acceptable for their kids. Why do my kids have to be subject to these imposed values. I cannot even send my kids to school with cupcakes on their birthday anymore. No candy on Halloween. Sorry can't even call it Halloween anymore.
I don't know about anyone else, but I don't need government assistance in raising my kids. I can manage.Nov 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm #1806980
>There is no immenent danger to the child. If the child spends another 3 months in this situation he would gain another 5lbs.
Um, 200 lbs at 8 years of age is beyond "imminent" danger and has become a clear and present danger. And yeah, letting the kid gain a few more lbs is ok. He's already huge so what's 5 more pounds, right? Nice logic.Nov 30, 2011 at 7:02 am #1807078
Laurie Ann MarchMember
@laurie_annLocale: Ontario, Canada
Okay… I didn't read the replies, however I will after I write this.
Obesity is a serious medical problem and puts the person (in this case a child) at risk. Morbid obesity is just that and this child could end up having heart disease, diabetes, higher risk of certain cancers, etc. I feel a parent that allows their child to become so obese is neglectful and it does border on abuse. That said… I have a totally different perspective than many of you who were not obese as children.
While not quite as big as this child I was seriously obese as a child. It wasn't until I got into backpacking (at a whopping 370+ pounds) that I learned how to balance food (fuel) and exercise and go under the 200 pound mark for the first time since the age of 12. My parents were partially to blame, after all, they were my source of meals… however, in their defense, there were extenuating circumstances. Mom turned to making all kinds of sweet and fatty things, like donuts on Saturday morning, after my brother died when I was 8. In hindsight, I think it was her way of keeping busy and feeding the rest of us… seeing us enjoy it made her happy. Mom and Dad were good parents, loving and kind, and being placed in foster care wouldn't have been the answer but some supervision could certainly have helped. They were horrible role models on what proper eating was. Sauces, gravies, deep-fried, full of sugar, was the criteria for food in our house. Roast beef, mashed taters, gravy, Yorkshire pudding, dessert was the norm for a meal. There is a part of me that feels that some intervention from authorities is necessary to ensure that families of morbidly obese children receive nutritional counselling and medical intervention as well as supervision.
Obesity is epidemic in both our countries. Because of this Type 2 diabetes rates have risen significantly. It is a serious disease. Heart disease rates are on the rise as well as many other issues related to being morbidly obese. The cost of obesity related illness is also crippling health-care systems.
In many ways, I feel that the authorities have done the right thing here. This child was 8 and 200 pounds if I remember correctly? My son is 10 and is only 80-some pounds and he's pretty average among most of his peers. We watch what he eats and keep a balance. Sure, he gets the odd bit of junk, but he's active and busy. I also model proper eating habits and the importance of exercise. I'm not a perfect parent – no one is but I do my best to ensure that he won't have some of the same battles I had. Maybe it is controlling but it sure is a heck of a lot better than the thought of my son having to inject himself with insulin 4 times a day as I had to… or being like my nephew who had a heart bypass when he was 39.
Obesity is a serious issue.Nov 30, 2011 at 7:31 am #1807090
Laurie–I can imagine that the poor eating habits you had growing up were difficult to change?
Many people are not able to break the habits they learn as children.Nov 30, 2011 at 7:45 am #1807097
Laurie Ann MarchMember
@laurie_annLocale: Ontario, Canada
Hard is an understatement… the biggest challenge of my life. Backpacking and the passion to do it was monumental in my transformation (which is still underway). I had to change the mindset and the activity and the eating and self-esteem. When I read about this child I wanted to throw my arms around him and tell him it will be okay. The emotional part was by far the worst side of it and continued even when I was doing something about my weight. I had people tell me I had no business on the trail – and maybe I didn't because of the risk but it was the most motivational way for me to change things. I owe a lot to backpacking.
My heart breaks for this child and for his family. I'm sure that they didn't do this to be cruel – but I feel they don't have the tools/knowledge to do what he needs. Now in Canada, this would generally be a temporary removal and they'd work with the parents to help them. Family and Children's Services do not want to make kids Crown Wards (which means foster care moving toward adoption) and will do everything they can to help the family. I am hoping it is the same where this child is. It's going to be a tough road for the little guy both physically and emotionally.Nov 30, 2011 at 8:35 am #1807113
@gregfLocale: Canadian Rockies
Um, 200 lbs at 8 years of age is beyond "imminent" danger and has become a clear and present danger. And yeah, letting the kid gain a few more lbs is ok. He's already huge so what's 5 more pounds, right? Nice logic.
We know that pulling him out of his home and taking him away from his parents will due emotional harm. Does leaving him in the home 3 months longer while it is evaluated by an impartial judge rather than a child services employee due more harm than the emotional damage of removing him (possibly without cause)?
Well he could safely lose about a 1lb a week so in 12 weeks while you go though an official hearing we could do some good. Now if we find out as in this case that the foster family has done no better then the orignal mother at getting the kid to lose weight have we really done any good. The answer is no. To take a child away without hearing needs to meet a significant burden. In this case the incremental risk of leaving him in the home for an addtional 3 months does not outweigh the damage of removing him from the home if that is deemed to be without cause.
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