Thursday, March 11, 2010

For Love and For Justice / Part 133 / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

B.C.’s Child Protection legislation states, “Children are entitled to be protected from abuse, neglect and harm or threat of harm.”

That is laudable. No argument.

There are inherent themes in our BC system of child protection.
It is acknowledged among us that natural (birth) parents of a child should have full rights over their child. ‘Full rights’ is termed custody or guardianship or parental rights. Custody changes only when by agreement or court order full rights are removed to someone else. Our government can and does intervene to apprehend a child from parents. In such a case all or most of the ‘full’ rights are removed from the natural parents. The Child Protection Ministry then has custody of the child pursuant to the statute which empowers it.

Within B.C.’s Child, Family and Community Service Act, is clearly stated that within our free society there are expectations of natural parents or other caregivers for that matter to provide for necessities of life to children.

Any time a child has been or is likely to be harmed or abused physically, sexually or emotionally or if the child is deprived of necessary health care or when a parent is unwilling or unable to care for the child, then a child is deemed to be in need of protection. And this list of justifications for intervention is unrestricted, that is, the Ministry is authorized to extend this list to accommodate situations where protection seems the safest course of action. For instance here is a quote from the ACT, “A director may, without a court order, remove a child if the director has reasonable grounds to believe that the child needs protection and that the child's health or safety is in immediate danger, or no other less disruptive measure that is available is adequate to protect the child.”

What makes many of us uncomfortable is that extravagant endowment of power over lives of children and parents when coupled with another feature of our child protection legislation. I refer to the mandate, the command that everyone must report any child needing protection. In fact, it is considered an offence not to report. At first glance such good Samaritanism seems appropriate if protection of children is important to us. A second glance through a lens of experience and the flaws are glaring. The B.C. Government helpfully suggests examples of such reporting scenarios which in my mind can easily be interpreted as meddlesome and intrusive and dangerous. The examples include (1) a school teacher noticing bruises on a child which the child and family cannot explain; (2) a person notices that a child is often ill or unclean or falls asleep.

A child can be apprehended on the basis of such a report. Then a court hearing called the Presentation Hearing is required speedily. Parents and families and friends are distressed with this step because the parent's essential and comprehensive challenge of the evidence is deferred to a later Protection Hearing. Parents are virtually helpless here. Their children’s lives are significantly interrupted by such an abridged process. How appalling must it be for a parent that a child can be forced to stay with strangers while suspicions, sometimes bogus, and anonymous allegations of abuse are investigated.

Do I think that apprehension decisions by the Ministry are made lightly? No, I don’t. I believe that as a society, as individuals, as policy makers and as social workers we concur that there must be exceedingly strong grounds for surrendering ‘full rights’ or removing ‘full rights’ of natural parents. I honestly believe that in most cases a judge does seek to make an unbiased and careful decision. Yet I also observe that we have certified a system that reduces the stringency of these ideals when it comes to apprehending children based upon suspicion. The worst scenario but not uncommon is that children engaged in a cycle of protection hearings may remain in the Director’s custody for a long time, in some cases this has been to the age of majority. Of course many parents become exhausted, disconnected from help, hopeless and impoverished by legal service bills. They give up. They become embittered. In desperation and anger they unite in online support and advocacy groups to raise awareness of abusive treatment. And an uninformed constituency and a self protective Ministry enterprise can write them all off as flakes.

I am more convinced each day that there is room for improvement if not comprehensive reform of our Child Protection training, policies, accountability structures, methodology and procedures.


  1. Does anyone get the impression that MCFD has been given "god status"?? I remember the great fanfare when this legislation was being developed and then changed because too many children were "falling through the cracks." However, this legislation must be revised. The imbalance of power is outrageous and after reading this blog, it is easy to see that a single social worker has nearly endless power to abuse families and children.

  2. Please forgive my abruptness, I disagree with your remark that MCFD does not make a child removal decision lightly. This is what MCFD would like the public to believe. Reality is not quite the same.

    I have seen children removed because a red rash is misconstrued as a sign of abuse, children appeared to be unhappy in school is interpreted as abuse, parents taking innocent nude photos of their children when taking a bath is considered sexual abuse, unclean home is ground for removal, ... etc. I have also witnessed "child protection" social worker blackmailing a parent to go to court to admit abuse 3 hours after removing his children and his wife was threatened by social workers to divorce her husband if she wants her children back. Parents can be charged with kidnapping of their own children if they try taking them back without a court order after removal. Some parents and children receiving "services" from MCFD committed suicide. Most Canadians do not know these realities and find it unbelievable that a government who ardently speaks of human rights and family development will create atrocities like these.

    Since biblical time, children have been used as pawns by those in power for various reasons. In modern time, children are used to create a lucrative "child protection" industry perverted by special interests. MCFD social workers enhance their job security and a larger budget if they have more open files on their desk.

    Child removal authority has been abused by various parties, most notably estranged spouse, police, Crown prosecutors and malicious parties. This statutory authority is oppressive and redundant (as law also has other due process to separate abusive parents and vulnerable children if there is good evidence).

    The Bayne's trauma is not an isolated incident. Atrocities like this will continue as long as government has the power to remove children. This problem pertains in most English speaking nations where government has this power. This also enabled the notorious "residential school" in our past when the First Nation was oppressed by a very racist cultural assimilation policy.

    Modern "child protection" is a disguised derivative of residential school characterized by the same notion of cultural assimilation (now expressed as government dictated culture of child upbringing and standard of care). Incidentally, the First Nation remains the biggest victim (about 50% of removed children are from Native families).

    There is structural corruption in the "child protection" industry and is irreparable. State-sponsored child removal is nothing more than a scheme to transfer wealth from taxpayers to service providers, brokered by bureaucrats in MCFD, in this industry under the pretext of child protection. Of course, this is done at the expense of destroying families and ironically children.

    The Bayne's case clearly confirms the foregoing. Guess how much legal expense will be paid out of taxpayer's pocket at the end of the trial. Follow where the money goes. You will solve the puzzle to explain why MCFD does business this way.

    Child removal authority is inhumane, barbaric and has no place in a civilized society. There are ample empirical evidence confirming that it is destroying the backbone of our nation, namely families and children. It must be revoked at all costs.


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