August 15 2016
We're definitely in favor of protecting kids, but this story (as recounted by Reason) strikes us as zero tolerance gone mad:
It was the first day of day care and Tamara O'Haire, a fitness trainer in Bozeman, Montana, had just dropped off her child. The phone rang. No, the child wasn't behaving:
[O'Haire] and her husband were suspected of child abuse. The daycare center had called CPS to report a bruise on the baby's chest.
But it wasn't a bruise. It was a birthmark.
According to O'Haire, the daycare—Roots Nature School, which offers "nature-based childcare and preschool"—made no attempt to contact her about the alleged bruise. The school, "went straight to the state, assuming we are beating our child," O'Haire wrote on Facebook.
The daycare provider later told O'Haire that she thought the mark on the child was either a bruise or a rash. But there's a pretty huge difference between a bruise and a rash (although bruises, like . rashes are often innocent—kids bump into things).
. . .
Tammy made an appointment for her and her husband to meet with CPS on August 10. But first thing that morning, she took her son to the pediatrician."She examined him—she's been his pediatrician since he was six days old," said O'Haire in an interview. "She confirmed it was a birthmark and not a bruise." The doctor even wrote a note.
What's more, O'Haire has posted Facebook photos of her son every month on his birthday. The birthmark showed up at around five months. She had four time-stamped photos of this "bruise."
At her CPS appointment, they were joined by a sheriff. O'Haire showed them the photos and the doctor's note. The sheriff's response?
"The sheriff told us that he thought the birthmark looked like a handprint," O'Haire recalled.
The parents nevertheless have an open case and an appointment to appear before the sheriff and CPS again in three weeks.
When O'Haire told her story on Facebook, a lot of other mothers came forward and described similar stories.
Several mothers had stories similar to the birthmark saga and one was called in to be interviewed by CPS after her child missed a checkup appointment.
It's like zero tolerance for the Pop Tart chewed into the shape of a gun. The school didn't have to take it seriously, because anyone with two brain cells knows the difference between a weapon and a pastry, just as anyone knows the difference between a confirmed birthmark and a bruise from child abuse.. .
These stories illustrate the fact that we must kill off the notion that overreacting to nearly non-existent threats is prudent. As one parent wrote in support of the day care provider on the provider's page, "I would rather see 1 million reports that end up not being an issue than see even one go unreported and lead to serious injury or the death of a child." We have to stop framing the issue like that. If the system is reporting one million unfounded cases, that is a million distraught families. This is not something we have to just shrug off in the name of child safety. We cannot allow hysteria to trigger government involvement.
And finally, if the sheriff has so little to do that he is hallucinating handprints, he needs a furlough. Starting now.