Do Black Lives Matter? What about the lives of black children?
Federal data released this week showed that 504 black children died from abuse in 2020, up 73 from 2019. Black children were three times more likely to die from abuse or neglect than white children. Given that the total number of child deaths in New York State rose from 69 to 105 that year, it’s likely that much of this problem is happening in our own backyards.
Responding to the report, JooYeun Chang, the Administration’s deputy secretary for children and families, said that “there is still work to be done.” No kidding. Where is the outrage? Are there demonstrations in the streets?
For several years, child welfare agencies, family courts and various activists have sought to correct racial disparities in the system. These advocates focus on the fact that black families are more likely to be investigated than their white peers, investigations involving black children are more likely to be founded, and black children are more likely to be investigated. be removed from their families in the foster care system. Some advocates have even argued for the abolition of foster care entirely in order to eliminate these disparities.
Indeed, Chang, former executive director of public policy at Casey Family Programs, argued that the foster care system “traumatizes[s] children by removing them from the only communities they have known” and placing them in living situations that “are no better than prisons. The reason so many children, especially minority children, are removed from their homes, she said, is that “our system was built on centuries of racism, classism and xenophobia.”
But Chang and activists don’t want to talk about what’s causing these disparities. Besides their higher death rate, black children are almost twice as likely as whites to be abused or neglected – a rate of 13.2 per 100,000 children compared to 7.4 for white children. (Native Americans suffer the most: 15.5 victims per 100,000 children.)
Proponents claim this is the result of racism, but then how do you explain the rate of victimization of Hispanic children, which is almost exactly the same as that of white children? Or that, especially in cities like New York, the vast majority of investigators are black or Hispanic professionals? And how do you explain all these black children dying at the hands of their own family members or other dangerous people living in their homes?
Nevertheless, in an effort to combat the structural racism of the “family policing system”, a movement to abolish the child welfare system has emerged. Using the “Defund the Police” movement as a model, its leaders demand the elimination of foster care and group care, mandatory reporting of abuse (by teachers and doctors, for example) and drug testing for infants and new mothers. They also want the police to be less involved in domestic violence (as this leads to more reports of child abuse).
Some of these requests have already been met. Public hospitals in Gotham can no longer test new mothers or pregnant women for drug use without explicit permission. The judges are use racial disparities as a reason not to remove black children from homes where they would never leave white children. And more children are being left in unsafe homes by agencies across the country like ACS.
Last year, baby Legacy Beauford was allegedly murdered at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend, a violent criminal who had previously come to the attention of authorities. Jaycee Eubanks, 4, was allegedly beaten to death by her stepfather after her daycare center reported signs of abuse to ACS. And Julissia Batties, 7, was allegedly killed by her half-brother, a young man whom ACS allegedly interviewed before the fatal incident.
As in the defund the police movement, the effect of tying the hands of child protective services will hurt minority communities the most. Instead of asking questions about which children are most at risk and how we can protect them from their abusers, authorities are looking at their skin color and making decisions based on a flawed idea of social justice. The results are nothing short of deadly.
Naomi Schaefer Riley is the author of “No Way to Treat a Child: How the Foster Care System, Family Courts and Racial Activists Are Destroying Young Lives”.