Editorial: Be careful before taking children from their parents
Most people don’t want to see any child harmed. Unfortunately, as we saw in California, there are people in our society who will harm children.
State officials have a difficult job trying to find children who are being abused — or tortured or mistreated or exploited — and rescue them. We know that it is a difficult job, and we support them in their noble work.
However, there are times when common sense needs to be considered.
In 2008 a Peoria couple dropped off their photos to be developed at Walmart. When the employees processed the photos, they noticed that some of the photos pictured young girls — ages 5, 4 and 18 months — lying on a towel naked after a bath. The employees notified police.
The photos were taken by the couple of their daughters, and none of the photos portrayed sexual activity. The police asked doctors to examine the children, and doctors found no signs of abuse.
In one of the photos, there was a peek of the child’s genitalia showing. But the couple insisted that these photos were intended as cute, childhood photos for the family, not something to be traded on the dark web by child pornographers.
The girls’ father said of the photos: “So when we look back on ’em years later, look at their cute little butts.”
Why did the government take the girls away from their parents?
Workers for Department of Child Safety thought the images were sexually explicit. After a brief stay in foster care, the girls lived with their grandparents for a month before they were returned to their parents.
This week the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that DCS acted unconstitutionally by removing the children from the care of their parents without a court order.
There may be times when the threat is so great that children should be removed immediately without a court order, and the court’s ruling left that door open. However, the court found that, in this case, that threshold was not met.
And that should have been obvious from the start.
Again, we know this is a difficult decision, and we expect the professionals at DCS to use good judgment. We are relying on them to keep the children of Arizona safe.
In this case, DCS was wrong, and a family had to go through an awful ordeal of having their children taken from them and then live with the idea that people who did not know the full facts were assuming these parents were a danger to their own daughters.
Most people find a photo of a baby’s butt cute and see nothing sexual in the image. Unfortunately, there are others who see something else.
Those are the people DCS must keep away from the children, not their loving parents.