‘Our primary responsibility or mission in child protection is to identify children and families who are in need of services that will assist families with ensuring the care and well-being of their children.’ So said Michael Patterson, district manager with the Department of Human Services children’s services administration in Wayne County, Detroit with reference to the Maryanne Godboldo case which is causing huge concern in and around Detroit right now.
Maryanne, a well respected member of her community in Wayne County, has a 13-year-old-daughter who was born with a damaged foot which required amputation below the knee. As a result, the child was home schooled although she had a busy and active life which included swimming, dancing, singing and playing the piano. However, as she grew older she wanted to start attending ‘normal’ school so was required to catch up on her immunisations. But, after her immunisations her behaviour disimproved markedly and she developed facial tics. (For more on vaccination see the BSEM conference in March.)
Her mother, concerned, took her to the Children’s Center in Detroit, an organization that helps families with at-risk children, where a medical and mental health treatment plan was developed which included anti-psychotic medication. When her daughter’s symptoms got worse, rather than better, on the medication, Maryanne Godboldo sought a second opinion from a different physician who suggested that she stop the medication and pursue a more holistic, naturopathic regime. She followed this advice and the child’s symptoms started to improve.
However, the Children’s Center did not agree and called in the Child Protective Services who told Godboldo to either follow the Center’s medication plan or to surrender her child – both of which she refused to do. Despite the fact no parent is ever legally required to comply with drug or any other treatments that harm their children, armed Child Protective Service officers arrived at the house and demanded that she hand over the child. A lengthy standoff ensued, during which Godboldo fired a gun inside the house, although not at the officers. Finally she was persuaded to come out on the understanding that she would be able still to look after the child.
Not only was she not allowed to care for her daughter but, even though several relatives offered to look after her, the child has been taken into care. But, meanwhile, a Wayne County judge has ordered that the anti-psychotic medication prescribed by the original physician should be discontinued…
It is of course true that childrens’ services the world over have a duty to protect the best interests of the children – there have been enough horrendous incidents of child abuse here, let alone in the US, for us all to subscribe to that view – but the ‘best interests of the child’ is a very fluid concept.
One report of this story in Health Impact News also quotes the case of Starletta Banks, who filed suit in federal court in 2005 after Child Protective Services snatched her three small children, Darius, Danielle and Darren from her arms in 2000, claiming falsely that X-rays of Danielle showed evidence of old fractures. They go on to suggest that ‘the sole reasons that children are being stolen from their families and homes are the financial incentives associated with each child and circumstance. There is federal grant money given to states and child placement agencies to create situations that do not exist to generate these funds. The state of Michigan is financially broke, thus surviving on the backs of our children.‘
Whether the motive is financial, political or merely misguided, Christina England’s presentation at the BSEM conference mentioned above described a horrendous number of cases in the UK where children had been taken from their parents as a result of ‘mistaken’ diagnoses of parents causing harm to their children – see her website www.profitableharm.com for more details.
‘Harm’ comes in many forms…
I have just picked up a further report on the Godboldo case. Court documents have now been released show that Maryanne Godboldo signed an informed consent form, on behalf of her daughter, which stated:
‘It has been explained to me that I have the right to withdraw this consent at any time and can stop taking the medication at any time.’ The document was also signed by the psychiatrist who prescribed the drug – which brings yet further into question the Child Protective Agency’s actions in seizing the child and continuing to hold her in care. See the Detroit News for more.