A Song of Praise for Child Protective Services

child abuse poster


by Laura Castle

Radio demagogue Michael Savage recently spewed some hatred toward “the vermin in Child Protective Services” on his show (September 21, 2009.)  Responding to an unfortunate incident in which little girls were temporarily removed from their home because of innocent bathtub photos, Savage blasted the “demented perverts in America who work at CPS whose entire goal is to take children away from normal families and give them to perverts.”

For decades the incidence of children in emergency rooms who have been beaten by their parents was merely whispered about by worried doctors who had no recourse, no legal right to intervene and nowhere to turn.

In 1962, the term “battered child syndrome” was introduced to describe the injuries seen so often by physicians that did not appear to be accidental.

In the beautiful, shining year of 1974, Child Protective Services (CPS) was established nationwide to investigate reports of child  abuse. It was designed not only to protect children from abuse, but to encourage family stability.

Today the process of investigation includes interviewing, observing, and information gathering in order to determine the validity of the report  and determine whether or not intervention is necessary for the child’s safety.

When CPS workers find problems in the home that do not warrant removal, they will encourage the family to take child parenting classes. An example might be a child who is spanked too hard and too often, but does not have the injuries that would warrant immediate removal from the home. Contrary to the hysterical rants of those who think being hit is good for a child, CPS does not forbid parents to spank children although it will help parents learn more effective methods of discipline.

Some Statistics:  In 2004, approximately 3.5 million U.S. children were involved in investigations of alleged abuse or neglect  and 87,000 children were determined to have been abused or neglected. Would the hate mongerers prefer that these children just quietly die because many other homes that were investigated were found to not be abusive? Or would their rants against CPS be less hysterical if they knew that 1490 children died in 2004 of abuse or neglect?
These were the children that CPS did not discover in time. When Mr. Savage spews fear and resentment towards an organization that saves as many children as CPS does, he makes it less likely that a worried neighbor will report the family next door whose child’s cries of pain pierce the night.

I take personal offense at Mr. Savage’s attack on CPS as I grew up before the United States had this agency, an agency  to which teachers, doctors and neighbors are legally required to report suspected child abuse with guaranteed anonymity.

Would Mr. Savage and his ilk like to see a return to the days when a little girl could lie in bed night after night, terrified with blood pouring from her nose, with blistered buttocks and legs from a beating with a belt, hearing her mother and her brothers and sisters scream in pain as her father attacked them?

Would Mr. Savage want the teacher the next day to look at the bruised and cut, badly dressed, dirty little girl and be helpless to intervene? 

I was that little girl and I would not sentence today’s children to the isolation and terror of a battered child in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Today this is what would happen: At the age of five, when I entered kindergarten, my teacher would observe that I was bruised, cut and dirty and that I seemed unusually terrified of adults. Knowing that she was legally required to report her concerns, she would make an anonymous call to CPS and express her worries about my home situation. Within 3 to 24 hours, a CPS worker would arrive at my home. Stunned by the incredible filth and stench that would greet him  at the door (dirty diapers, layers of dust, clothing strewn everywhere, filthy, unwashed dishes, big Florida cockroaches swarming), he would urge immediate removal of me and my brothers and sisters.

I sometimes wonder how my life would be different if CPS had existed in the 1950’s and I had been rescued at the age of 5 instead of running away at thirteen.

What difference would eight years less of beatings, emotional abuse and neglect have made on my ability to handle stress? How much less anxiety would I experience today?

I will never know, but I send songs of praise and love to the organization that works so hard to rescue today’s battered children. Thank you CPS!

Yes CPS makes mistakes and we must work to make it more efficient and less prone to error.

Ranting against an organization that saves so many lives not only hurts children, but it can also place CPS workers in danger of retaliation.

We must choose to focus on the good that CPS does. I send a heartfelt and long overdue thank you to Child Protective Services on behalf of all the lives they save.


Laura Castle lives in Florida and she writes (among other things) about violence against women and children. She is a frequent contributor to POTB.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

0 thoughts on “A Song of Praise for Child Protective Services”

  1. Laura,
    It is most often such a horribly difficult situation when a government agency is called upon to investigate potential parental child abuse or neglect. The abusing parent rarely readily admits, or even recognizes, abuse, no matter how severe the abuse may be. And, yes, abuse acusations can be false, as when parents separate and use abuse accusations as a tool to gain custody. Once a child is removed locating safe haven for the child sometimes can be difficult, if not impossibe. And so saying, it just seems like even people like Scott, with all their rage at laws that curb private activities, would have to see some value in having some sort of social safety net to protect children who are in situations like yours. Would he truly want people to stand helplessly by as a child is tortured by a parent? Children are not property; they are human beings with basic rights that need to be protected.
    Because you relay your actual experiences, you are perhaps the most powerful voice for continued intervention. But you will never convince everyone. Is Scott coming from that place that thinks you used the system to escape appropriate discipline? If he is, as you say, he needs to re-read your account, again and again and again until it sinks in that, unfortunately, parents do not always act in the best interests of their children. And when they don’t, thank goodness that we live in a society that will step in to help the abused child.
    Thank you for having the courage to speak up.


  2. My heartfelt thanks to you, Leslie B. Scott’s comments have led me to wonder if there is any point in trying to show people through my experiences the need for CPS. As a much more careful reader than Scott, you observed that I wrote that, “CPS makes mistakes and we must work to make it more efficient and less prone to error.” I have to think that Scott is a good, decent person who needs to improve his reading skills, rather than a monster who thinks parents should be allowed to beat their children, punch them, bite them and pull them out of bed by their hair, all of which happened to me throughout my childhood. Thanks again, Leslie for showing me there are people who understand my message!


  3. Hi Scott,
    It’s unbelievable to me that you can read Ms Castle’s account of her childhood, and see no use for CPS agencies, although you are most correct that CPS agencies need to be guided by concrete evidence, rather than heresay, to be sure that they work in the best interests of the child that they are trying to protect.
    Your hateful use of the word “faggot” is alarming to me. If you had a chance to live near the people that I know who are involved in same-sex relationships, perhaps you would re-consider. They are compassionate, caring and responsible people.
    Perhaps this topic is the primary area where this extreme level of anger is active in your life. However, if your anger is preventing you from having loving relationships with the people around you, seek help from someone, somewhere that you can trust. You owe this to yourself.


  4. cps needs to be destroyed me and my wife and 2 girls have been going through hell on earth. because these idiots decided to kidnap our 2 girls all based on alie. and our younger daughter is in foster care on all kinds of antipschotic drugs she doesnt need. she was never on any kind of meds till these fing freaks got involved.its benn 9 yrs these idiots have been in our lives. and another 4 long yrs. before our daughter can return home. dont believe any of these freaks on here that say cps is alway and only good. what udder bs!! all they want to do is come into your home and snatch your kids. and they get $4000 to $6000 each kid its called title 4 funding from the fd up fedral gov. i just wish some of these freaks would get there kids taken away for no reason. and lets force them to take all kinds of drugs with lots of bad side effects just like they do to all foster kids. burn in hell cps burn in hell!!@@#$%^&* you faggots!!!


  5. I forgot to mention that my son was only 14 months old when this happened, and was still mastering climbing and walking. All children have accidents, but CPS forgot about that. That’s why they are called accidents, nobody meant for it to happen, and nobody did it to them. The system needs to be reformed.
    Another thing that I want to say is that even though the system may not be perfect, IT NEEDS TO BE. I still want children to be protected, don’t get me wrong, but when the system is wrong, IT RUINS FAMILIES AND LIVES. The workers get to go home to their spouses and say “Oops, I messed up today” but the families, the VICTIMS of CPS, have to try to put their families back together, and a piece of the puzzle is always going to be missing. It traumatized children for the rest of their lives when they get ripped from their parents. It’s not a simple mistake the workers make, it’s a life long trauma, and that’s what you fail to realize. I wish you guys could taste your own medicine and experience the heart break you bring to so many families! Especially when the family didn’t deserve it in the first place!!!


  6. This is absolutely absurd!!! CPS isn’t trying to keep families unified in any way at ALL!!! I have had my own children removed from my home because my son fell off of my couch onto the coffee table, WHILE I WAS AT WORK!!! I got the call, took him to the hospital, and the hospital called cps because of how severe the bruising was, and there were some scratches. When I tried to explain to them that I have a stone table, they told me they would come to investigate, but my children were to stay with my sister until they could… They never did. I’m still going to court over this bull!!! I had proof I was at work and everything, and all they had to do was come to my house. Now my life and my kids’ lives are ruined over this!
    VISIT http://www.fightcps.com


  7. THank you so much for trying to tell both sides of the story. I am employed by Texas CPS and was previously an investigator. It seems CPS is always the villan on the news. If we take kids from the home we are “Vermin”selling babies and if we cannot (due to legal constraints) we are horrible for leaving the children there. Trust me, no one worries more about these kids than the worker assigned to their case. It’s hard to protect other children, it’s hard enough to protect your own. I know…I do both. Although I am still employed with CPS, I am now training and assisting foster parents, who are yet another unsung hero who is often seen as villans. I believe STRONGLY in child protection and agree the system may not be perfect. But we do the best we can!! Kudos to you for speaking up. Contact me anytime, I would love to read and reply to questions and comments


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