family in good handsIn the blink of an eye, parents can be substantiated for neglecting or abusing their children. In a recent case, Matter of Cecile D. (Kassia D.), 189 A.D.3d 1036, the Appellate Division, Second Department, held: “‘Although parents have a right to use reasonable physical force against a child in order to maintain discipline or to promote the child’s welfare, the use of excessive corporal punishment constitutes neglect’ (Matter of Cheryale B. [Michelle B.], 121 AD3d 976, 977, 995 N.Y.S.2d 135; see Matter of Laequise P., 989 N.Y.S.2d 292 [Brian C.], 119 AD3d 801, 802, 989 N.Y.S.2d 292). Even ‘a single incident of excessive corporal punishment is sufficient to support a finding of neglect’ (Matter of Eliora B. [Kennedy B.], 146 AD3d 772, 773, 45 N.Y.S.3d 144).” If such a finding is made, the child may be immediately removed from the home.

Of course, no one is condoning a child being maltreated, but too rarely is the question asked: Is removing the child sometimes more traumatizing than leaving the child at home? In other words, is Child Protective Services (CPS) knowingly, legally—yet ironically—committing an acknowledged act of child maltreatment that is more detrimental than the original act for which the parents were “substantiated”? To use the vernacular, is CPS sometimes taking children out of the frying pan and consciously placing them into the fire? Such removals are not in the best interest of the child. Unspoken, but quietly acknowledged, is that the child may be removed because CPS is concerned about its own liability more than it is concerned about the long-term safety of the child.