The New York Times ran a story yesterday about a woman who had her son and niece taken away for possessing 10 grams of marijuana. This wasn’t even enough of the drug to be charged with a misdemeanor in New York City, yet it was enough for child welfare to take an decided interest. I was outraged that possession of marijuana alone could be grounds for child neglect. Put aside the dispute about the effects of marijuana and the damage the so-called “war on drugs” has wrought upon our society, there are so many other forms of child neglect that are far more dangerous and yet ignored by our society.
So after my initial rage subsided, I started listing some of the pseudo-scientific practices I thought were more realistic signs of child neglect:
- Choosing prayer over medical attention
- Chelation therapy for autistic children
- Not vaccinating your children
- Treating serious illness with homeopathy
This is by no means a complete list, but notice what all the items have in common, they are actual forms of child neglect/abuse, in the best case they will endanger a child, and in the worst case they will kill him. Courts have a hard time removing children from homes that refuse them medical care, yet all it takes is 10 measly grams of marijuana and the kids are sent packing? What is wrong with this picture?
I submit that a parent who has exposed their children to any of the above practices poses a much greater danger to their children than a parent possessing marijuana. Unfortunately for now, the reality of the law seems contrary to this position.
I admit, most of the time the parents who subject their children to these pseudo-scientific practices are doing what they think is in the best interests of their children, and probably should not be in the same classification as parents who actually neglect or abuse their children. They are simply mistaken and should have our sympathy; it is easy to get taken in. But, unfortunately the results can be just as bad or worse.