Challenging the Parenting Skills of the State
Now here’s a curious thing. When the government takes a child from a home that isn’t Aboriginal, a White home or an Asian home, for instance, most of the time it’s because of abuse. Abused children, unsurprisingly, tend not to be psychologically healthy when entering the care of the state.
On the other hand, the most common reason for Aboriginal children to be taken from their home is a breakdown of babysitting services. This breakdown is classified by the law as equivalent to neglect, and the children so seized tend to be psychologically healthy.
When entering the care of the state, that is.
Aboriginal children who enter the care of the state psychologically healthy tend to leave it psychologically unhealthy. Statistically, the life-chances of Aboriginal child raised by the state are approximately equal to that of children who have actually been abused. Think homelessness, petty crime, prostitution, drug addiction, shortened life-span, etc.
In other words, because of the intervention of the state, a mere breakdown of babysitting services is somehow transformed into the sociological equivalent of, for instance, sexual abuse. Social workers grabbing Aboriginal children, ironically, have been just as important as child abusers in terms of supplying customers to the crack dealers of Canada’s inner cities.
Do I really have to say that such outcomes are inappropriate? They raise a serious question that I have yet to see any part of the system address seriously: Is the state a fit parent for Aboriginal children?
Aboriginal children, like other children in the foster system, are not offered stable homes. Characteristically, they move from place to place. They have no idea where they might be staying from year to year, what schools they might be attending.
And they have no one to share their experience with. At least, if they were wandering in a similarly unstable environment with their parents and siblings, they would not have to do it alone among an ever-varying cast of strangers.
I remember being a foster child for two years. Foster parents really were mostly strangers. I don’t remember the names of any of them, although I could tell you the first and last names of particular foster children I lived with. Neither can I picture any one of my social workers. They were just generic white ladies in offices and cars.
I didn’t know them. They didn’t know me.
But these same workers were supposed to represent the state. In legal fiction they shared the role of parent to me. But the most clueless accidental teenage mother would have known me better than those social workers knew me. The legal fiction is a dangerous fantasy.
No court would accept a flesh and blood parent which consistently did as bad a job with Aboriginal children as child welfare authorities do.
But the courts are blind to the incompetencies of the system because they are part of the system. Welfare workers are blind to it because they are part of the system. Politicians are blind to it because they created the system.
And politicians will never be motivated to change the system because its victims define political powerlessness.
Unless someone somewhere within the system gets the guts and maturity to admit that the state has failed. The failure of another “good idea,” the residential schools, should provide a moral example, an inclination to rethink.
But Aboriginal children continue to be grabbed up and turned from healthy children into unhealthy adults in numbers that have not abated at all since the infamous “60s Scoop”.
The 60s Scoop became the 70s Scoop became the 80s Scoop became the 90s Scoop became the Millenium Scoop—half a century of Aboriginal child apprehension with no sign of slowing down.
The state is a disastrously bad parent that ruins the lives of Aboriginal people, and has done for generations. But it refuses to admit it. A classic case of self-serving denial.
Amounting to child neglect and child abuse.