Off-Topic: Why I Work for CPS

CPS has been plastered all over the news lately. From headlines about children dying to caseworker turnover, there seems to be no end in sight to the negative media attention that CPS is getting in Texas right now. People have every reason to be outraged, but here is my argument:

I work for CPS because I am a strong enough person to handle it. Every day I talk to children about abuse and neglect, and every now and then I hear some god awful stories. I work for CPS because through the system, I have the power to do something about those horror stories. Through CPS, I can keep families together and have the opportunity to educate parents. I work for CPS because so many other people can’t, and I love the job that I have.

That being said, people have every right to be outraged with the system. It’s flawed, as all systems are. People have every right to be upset about children dying and being beaten. It’s upsetting. We are not wired to find this behavior acceptable. What is unacceptable is people berating the system when they do not, and never will work for it. If you are not a strong enough person to do my job, please do not tell me how to do my job. Child welfare needs some serious attention and revamping, but unless you have some legitimate solutions and the funding to do so, do not tell me how to do my job. I am a human being, not a robot. Caseworkers burn out so quickly because we have incredibly high case loads, and policy changes happen frequently, making our job a little harder to do sometimes. CPS is not perfect by any means. We get a lot of things wrong, but we do a whole lot of things right too. It is impossible to catch everything, and it is difficult to prioritize cases when we have so many that need attention.

Every now and then the public gets a wind of the spirit of raising awareness, and temporarily are passionate about a cause. This is one of those moments. Unless your spirit of raising awareness turns into legitimate advocacy that calls for informed, educated, and researched change in the system, please hop off the bandwagon. Unless you have the political pull or money in your pocket to influence this change, please refrain from telling me how to do my job.

There are a lot of bad caseworkers. There are also a lot of great ones. I am blessed to work with some of the most caring people in the industry, and we do a lot of good for a lot of children. Families involved with CPS may not like us, but I sleep just fine at night knowing that I’ve helped at least 1 child in this world. The public may be demonizing us for things that we cannot always control, but please don’t forget that parents are the ones making terrible decisions, and parents are the reasons why these things are happening. CPS intervenes and we do the best we can, so unless society can once again adopt the mentality of “it takes a village”, and do it right, my job will always be necessary. No matter how much I wish it weren’t. Bringing pitchforks to the CPS party is not going to change anything. The only people that have the power to change things are employees and advocates, and the people with the money. So please, if you’re truly invested in child welfare, call for reform of the system. Not the firing of caseworkers and supervisors. Not the firing of whoever. Call for actual money to be spent to reform the system. Our children need to be kept safe. So please, by all means, help me do it. Maybe then you can tell me how to do my job.

Check Yourself: Planned Parenthood 101

Over the last year or two there have been several attacks on planned parenthood, both violent and smear campaigns. The words ‘Planned Parenthood’ are pretty hot-button, and people don’t usually like to bring it up in casual conversation. But it’s important to know the facts about Planned Parenthood, and here they are:

In a budget allocation that Planned Parenthood released from the 2013-2014 fiscal year, it should be noted that 42% of the services that were given at clinics were in regards to STD/STI testing and treatment. The next largest allocation of services falls under providing contraception, at 34%. 11% of services were described as ‘other’ women’s health services, which can be classified as a mammogram or pap smear. 9% of services were devoted to cancer screenings and prevention. 1% of services fell under a completely separate ‘other’ category. Have you done the math? That leaves 3% of services provided as abortion services. Right, wrong, or indifferent, Planned Parenthood is not solely an abortion clinic, and appears to be doing everything in their power to educate young people and prevent them from needing an abortion in the first place. Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice is not something that I’ll be getting into this evening, but it needs to be known that these are the real allocation of services. A whopping 3% of services nation wide were dedicated to abortion. Hundreds of thousands of women received HIV tests and other STD tests. Over 1 million women received emergency contraception, which resulted in over half a million unintended pregnancies being averted. And still, only 3% of services are abortion related.

You don’t have to agree with abortion. But facts are still facts. Planned Parenthood does a whole lot more good than it does harm, and that is evident in the way that they allocate their services. At Planned Parenthood, men can receive a vasectomy. They don’t discriminate, and are rallied around the cause of making parenthood enjoyable for those who choose to parent, and making sure that it comes at the right time for every individual who comes in their doors.

 

Off-Topic: How Many More Times?

This morning when I woke up, I saw the news about another mass shooting on a college campus. Florida State. First of all, I’d like to say that my thoughts are with the victims and their families and friends. This is a horrendous occurrence, and I’m so sorry for all the tears, and heartbreak that come along with the injury and loss of a loved one.

Now, I’m thoroughly upset about this. How many more times am I going to wake up in the morning, see the news of yet another mass shooting, and feel horribly unsafe attending my classes that day? How many more times are parents going to lose their children far too soon? How many more times are students going to be traumatized by the loss of their friends in a preventable situation? How many more times are we going to sit around and do absolutely NOTHING?

I shouldn’t be waking up in the morning afraid to walk onto campus. I shouldn’t be afraid that a man or woman yielding a gun might kill the people that I love at a place that’s supposed to be safe. I shouldn’t have to worry that a student is going to walk into the office armed. And yet, I am. We let these shooters slip through the cracks. Then they fall, and no one is there to catch them. We let our students wander with these shooters, unknowingly. We cling tighter to our guns. And nothing gets solved.

So now what? We’ve got another shooting. Another tragedy. Yet still we sit and do nothing. When are we going to get upset about this? Are we accepting this? Are we accepting that this fear and tragedy is just a part of our lives? This shouldn’t be happening! People are flocking to schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, etc. and DYING because we can’t get a handle on this problem. Most literally, this is a life or death situation. If we continue the pattern of sitting back and doing nothing, more people will die for absolutely no reason, and more families will be left with broken hearts and shattered hopes.

If the tragedy in Newtown did nothing, I’m hesitant to believe that anything will. Innocent little children were slaughtered, and we still did nothing. Those victims got no justice, and their parents are still living in a country where they could very likely be victimized by the same kind of violence again. We’ve had our talks. Now where is our action?

Let’s Talk #SurvivorPrivilege

I’m a little late on this train, but I’m going to force it to keep rolling for just a few hundred more words.

As I’m sure you may have heard, George F. Will of the Washington Post adamantly believes that victimhood is a “coveted status that confers privileges.” Not only is this the most outlandish thing I have ever read in my entire life, but it strikes a nerve in me. It makes me fume. There is no crime that confers privileges for the victim. With that said, sexual assault is likely the most devastating thing a person can personally experience. In many ways I (personally) feel it can be worse than murder. There are survivors, and they have to live with it in their own personal hell for the rest of their lives. Sexual assault deprives people of their livelihood. It brings about a “damaged goods” stigma that makes personal relationships excruciatingly laborious. The worst part? The estimates on how many women are sexually assaulted vary, but it is widely acknowledged that it is under reported, and only 3% of rapists ever spend a day in jail.

I’m sorry, Mr. Will, what privilege do these young men and women have of remaining sleepless at night, terrified that either their attacker or an enraged citizen will harm them? What privilege do they have when they can’t go into large, public spaces because of the crippling fear of looking their attacker in the eye? What privilege do they have when their own parents don’t believe them? What privilege do they have when they get email and facebook message, prying into their trauma just so they can establish an opinion on whether or not the assault was “legit.”

What a disgusting world you live in, Mr. Will. You live in a misogynistic, spiteful, truly privileged world in which you hold the power. And if that doesn’t sound like hell, I don’t know what does.

My beloved survivors, do not believe this old, white man who is full of crap. Find comfort in that you are not alone. Chances are that among your social circle, there is at least one other young lady who has similar experiences. Take comfort in that conversations are happening. People are standing up where we once remained silent. Action is on the brink of happening, and I wholeheartedly believe that.

You are not damaged because someone committed an unspeakable act of violence towards you. They’re damaged because they do not realize their thirst for power. You are not damaged because of your experiences. Changed? Yes. Certainly we are all changed when we encounter trauma in our lives. Damaged? Never.  No one has the right to strip you of your livelihood.

Survival of sexual assault is difficult. It will be a daily battle. There will be tears. There will be fits of rage, often targeted at those you love the most. There will be doubters. There will be assholes. There will be George Will’s. Every single day will feel like an uphill battle. But if there is one thing I know to be true in this life, it is that things get better. It won’t happen overnight. It won’t happen in a month, or maybe even a year. But one day at a time, you will make it.