King George 28, State of Texas 23
21. The children seem to be suffering significant health issues since entering state care. As of 28 April, nine of the children had been hospitalized. One of the children was hospitalized for dehydration. A report written by one of the mental health workers who helped at the shelters in San Angelo gives a possible clue for the cause of the dehydration:
The mothers complained about the food and snacks provided for them. One mother told me that her children were accustomed to nuts and fruits for snacks, not commercial fried pies…. Vegetables were scarce and everything was highly processed – very different from the women and children’s typical diet of homegrown organic and unprocessed foods. Very quickly, many of the children developed diarrhea and gastrointestinal problems.
Both the diarrhea problems reported by the mental health worker and the hospitalization for dehydration (which may well have been tied to a case of diarrhea) raise serious questions about the care the children have been receiving and whether they would not have been safer remaining in their own homes.
Another disturbing health incident occurred when a two year-old who had still been nursing until separated from her mother suffered a significant weight loss while in state custody. As of 26 April, the child was reported as having been “in shock and lethargic.”
In addition to the other medical problems, at least 23 cases of chicken pox have been documented among the children. When I initially read about this I had wondered if the outbreak would have been as severe if the children had remained in their family environments. Once again, a report from one of the mental health workers sheds some light on this case:
All of the children were healthy when they were taken from their home, but when herded into extremely crowded quarters with an artificial environment (lighting on 24 hours a day, no fresh air, no sunlight, strange food, uncomfortable beds, surrounded by strangers watching their every move) they became ill. Chicken Pox ran rampant through the children, diarrhea, respiratory conditions and other illnesses created greater discomfort and even hospitalization.
So much for the “P” in CPS.
Note: The reports written by the mental health workers have all been posted by the Salt Lake Tribune, and they make extremely compelling reading. If you read only one set of documents to gain insight into this situation, this set is the strongest nominee I have seen for being awarded a spot in the “required reading” category. And while I’m nominating award-winners, I’d have to say that the Salt Lake Tribune is the newspaper that has impressed me the most so far in their coverage of the FLDS. When many others were dutifully reporting the stories as presented by government officials, the Trib was one of the first to actually ask and report on the difficult questions. It does seem that – as events have unfolded and more facts have become available – more news outlets have begun asking tough questions. For the sake of our constitutional system of government, one can only hope the tough questions continue to be asked…
22. Comments made by a CPS spokeswoman the day after the FLDS children aged five and over were separated from their mothers grossly oversimplifies the grieving and recovery process in the wake of the children being separated from their parents:
There was some sadness among the children, there were some tears…. We explained to the children that we really believe that families should be together, if at all possible, but unfortunately sometimes that’s not possible. And when we go to court on Thursday, we’ll be talking to a judge…. We will be talking to that judge about possible supervision with family members, and the children understand this. [ed: especially the five year-olds, I presume?] I can tell you that today the children at the shelter are doing well, they’re happy, they’re smiling, they’re playing, they’re interacting with staff. I just interrupted a game of kickball between the troopers and some of the boys…. There’s not any chaos at all. (for her complete comments, see video clip linked to CNN article).
Based on the reports of the court hearings, it’s not clear to me that CPS followed through on the promise to the children to talk to the judge about family visits in a bona fide manner. It appears that most of the discussion in the court centered on making sure that CPS would get control of the children. Also, it appears to me that a lawyer’s description of her 7 year-old FLDS client was more balanced than the portrait presented by the CPS spokeswoman: “I thought she was a real trooper. It took a while for her to get relaxed…. She’s hanging on her mother the whole time, and she’s scared. She’s afraid that she’s going to be taken away from her mom, and that’s a logical fear.”
23. CPS appears to be having a hard time keeping track of all the children. An 11 year-old boy and a 16 month-old boy were reported missing as of 27 April, but “child welfare workers in Texas say they’re not worried.” Also, the attorney representing a two-year old who was hospitalized and placed in intensive care was not able to locate the child at the hospital.
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